From Stanford to Freiberg: Research internships strengthen international exchange

intern in the lab
Nine students from the USA, Canada, and the UK start research internships at TU Bergakademie Freiberg in the summer months. They support doctoral students in their experimental work and bring new ideas to research.

"It's a great experience to do research in Germany and to gain new perspectives on engineering but also the culture of my new home for the summer", says Juliana Lu-Yang. She studies Chemical Engineering at Stanford University in California and is currently part of the RISE program of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) within which she completes a research internship in Freiberg. "My colleagues at the Institute for Non-Ferrous Metallurgy and Purest Materials have been incredibly patient and helpful so far, and I'm looking forward to learning from them and working with them over the next nine weeks."

The research intern works closely with doctoral candidates Daniel Vogt and Aaron Weigelt as well as Alexander Winguth. "Together we want to investigate experimentally how more sustainable electrolyte systems for copper extraction electrolysis can be further developed in such a way that they lead to a less corrosive environment for the electrodes and lower energy consumption", explains Daniel Vogt. Institute director Prof. Alexandros Charitos adds: “Juliana Lu-Yang not only brings technical knowledge from her work in the Bao Group at the Department of Chemical Engineering at Stanford University but also new perspectives and ideas. Both participating research groups benefit from the exchange and get the chance to build new relationships."

Mastering an online internship despite challenges

screenshot of online meeting At the Institute of Glass and Glass Technology, Jessica Erickson is doing an online research internship in the RISE program due to the pandemic travel restrictions. She is studying Materials Science and Engineering at Washington State University in Pullman in the US state of Washington. For the format to be profitable for both sides, several challenges had to be overcome, says Jun.-Prof. Sindy Fuhrmann: “We have adapted the task so that our intern can also contribute to our research from the USA.” Ph.D. student Lena Bussmann describes the main tasks of Jessica Erickson: “Instead of providing practical support with the experiments, our intern now conducts data, analyzes and evaluates the test results. Jessica Erickson is currently plotting, correcting, and normalizing Raman and ATR infrared spectra that I have obtained from our cooperation partners in mineralogy (Prof. G. Heide) and physics (Prof. J. Kortus). The results are then analyzed and correlated accordingly to find out more about the structure and atomic arrangement in a compressed glass. "

"In the laboratory for materials science of Dr. John McCloy (NOME Materials Laboratory) at my home university, I already have previous experience with data analysis to answer fundamental questions in glass technology. This way, the virtual internship is not only possible but also possible successfully. Even though I regret being in Freiberg in person, I am very grateful for the chance to work with the team in a virtual environment to tackle important research tasks, ” says Jessica Erickson. "Last but not least, research is a global undertaking that can be advanced through international collaborations like this one."

Academic exchange, practical relevance, and broadening of horizons

"The international mobility of students in Europe and North America is changing - the trend is towards short stays abroad, also in combination with online study opportunities," explains Ingrid Lange. With a RISE research internship, academic exchange, research, and scientific practice as well as getting to know another culture can be combined in a short time. “It is great to be able to greet some students from the other side of the Atlantic in Freiberg despite the obstacles of the pandemic. The positive experience with the virtual research internships as part of the program is also very encouraging,” says the director of the International Office. Four students started their internship online or will do so soon. Another five interns are doing their internship on-site at the institutes of TU Bergakademie Freiberg. “By supporting the interns, we hope to strengthen or establish contacts with their home universities, such as McGill University and the University of Toronto in Canada or the Universities Pennsylvania State and Stanford in the USA and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. "

To offer an internship and host a student during the summer 2022 use this form.

Doctoral candidates from the following institutes supervise the interns:

  • Institute for Non-Ferrous Metallurgy and Purest Materials
  • Institute for Thermal Engineering and Thermodynamics (3 interns each)
  • Institute for Glass and Glass Technology
  • Institute for Technical Chemistry
  • Institute for Inorganic Chemistry

About the program

RISE stands for Research Internships in Science and Engineering. RISE Germany arranges two to three-month research internships for North American, British, and Irish Bachelor students at universities and non-university research institutions in Germany. RISE Germany is financed with funds from the Federal Foreign Office and through cooperation. The DAAD supports the interns with a grant.

Fragen beantwortet / Contact: 
Ingrid Lange,