"I got to learn something new every day"

yip daad rise

Florence Yip, center, with other DAAD-Rise scholars in Germany this summer.

Florence Yip ’17 of Mechanical Engineering thought research was all about spending time in a lab.

Now she knows there’s a lot more involved, after spending this summer as a DAAD-RISE scholar at Friedrich Schiller University’s Otto Schott Institute of Materials Research in Jena, Germany. The program pairs up undergraduate students from the US, Canada, and UK with German doctoral students to work on a research project for 8–12 weeks during the summer.

“I got to learn something new every day,” Florence said.

Florence studied the mechanical properties of carbon fiber reinforced composites, which involved preparing different test samples, carrying out finite element (FEM) simulations, and programming.

“It was a subject completely new to me,” she explained.  “Therefore, in the beginning of my internship, I spent about a week reading different literature (there were more than fifteen pieces of reading material!) all day. These reading materials helped me a lot in getting a better understanding of the subject.”

Her work in the lab mainly involved producing various types of composites using carbon fibers and chemicals, and taking microscopic pictures of the samples.

“You might think I spend most of my working hours in the lab, but that’s not true at all,” she wrote in a blog for the Office of Admissions while she was in Germany. “Laboratory work takes time, and I usually work on other stuff in the office while waiting for different processes to be completed. I think I spend at most a third of the time in lab, and during the rest of the time I’m working in the office, writing codes for analyzing data and doing simulations on the computer. “

“The one thing that struck me most about researchers is how self-motivated they all are. They do not have very strict schedules and deadlines to adhere to, nor do they receive much instruction from their supervisors. It amazes me how their interests in one subject drive them to working tirelessly, and how their passion keeps them from giving up, even when experiments fail or when analysis results are not satisfactory.”

Florence traveled  to Berlin, Munich, Dresden, as well as Prague and Zurich. “I had a lot of fun meeting new friends at hostels and on trains, wandering and getting lost in cities, and simply experiencing new cultures.”

“Moving to a completely new country, not knowing anyone or the language, might seem intimidating at first, but it surely did push me out of my comfort zone and made me grow as a person.”

Read more in Florence’s blog posts for the Office of Admissions.