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Study Abroad: Duke in Berlin for Engineers

Berlin, Germany

Description: During the spring of sophomore year, I had the opportunity to travel to Berlin, Germany, and study at Duke’s facilities in Berlin as well as take engineering courses at Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin). During my stay, I lived with a host family and explored Berlin, immersed myself in the German language, and learned more about the German culture. Due to the pandemic, my stay in-country was abbreviated to four months, but the program continued until July, and my engineering classes at TU Berlin continued into September. Despite the change of plans, I stayed in touch with my host family and took several classes (in German) about the German culture, history, and language, in addition to my technical classes (also taught in German).

Relation to GC Focus: Germany is one of the world’s leaders in energy technologies and environmental solutions, and having the opportunity to study in Berlin has allowed me to observe how differences in culture has played a significant role in infrastructural developments. For example, Germany — and most countries in Europe — do not use air conditioning systems in the summers out of environmental consciousness. Even household amenities that are taken for granted in the US, such as laundry dryers, are much less common in Germany for the same reason. Outside of the household, Germany’s cultural environmental awareness has also impacted transportation: most Germans bike to work or to the store, and if the weather is schlimm, most opt for public transportation, such as the subway systems. Most Germans forfeit a car in favor of these environmentally friendlier options, and my experiences abroad have made me aware of how culture influences our infrastructure.

Instructor: Dr. Jochen Wohlfeil

Dates: January 2020 to September 2020

Second only to Berliner donuts, the Berlin Bear is the icon of Berlin.

Total Hours: 500+ hours

Exploring the cultural and historic landmarks around Berlin.








Siatha Pedestrian Footbridge Project

Quality Control Manager

Siatha, Charazani Municipality, Bolivia

Description: Through a joint project with Duke Engineers for International Development (DEID) and Engineers in Action (EIA), I worked with other students from Duke, Virginia Tech, Pennsylvania State University, Rutgers University, and University of Wyoming as well as professional engineers and community members from the Siatha and Marumpampa communities to construct a pedestrian bridge across the Rio Camata. As Quality Control Manager, I analyzed as-built dimensions throughout construction to ensure accuracy and communicated with professional engineers (Bridge Corps members) as well as the Engineer of Records (EOR) when edits to the bridge design were needed.

Relation to GC Focus: The construction of the bridge is directly related to my GCS focus of restoring and improving urban infrastructure. I was able to gain valuable on-site experience while developing infrastructure in a community, and this experience helped me understand the importance of developing culturally-sensitive infrastructure solutions while addressing this Grand Challenge.

Supervisor: Dr. David E. Schaad

Dates: May 2019 to July 2019

Total Hours: 324 hours


The completed bridge!
Having fun while collecting rocks for the ramp.
Met a beautiful butterfly bud during excavation.