Barrett senior Alia Gilbert advances her interest in engineering through DAAD RISE program in Germany

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September 19, 2019

Barrett senior Alia Gilbert advances her interest in engineering through DAAD RISE program in Germany

Like most of her peers in Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University, Alia Gilbert is a busy student looking for opportunities to solidify her academic and career goals.

Gilbert, a senior majoring in engineering (robotics) and minoring in physics at the ASU Polytechnic campus, found an opportunity to enhance her academic and professional skills over the summer when she participated in the DAAD (German Academic Exchange or Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst) Research Internships in Science and Engineering (RISE) program.

RISE, which is sponsored by the German government, allows North American, British, and Irish undergraduate students to participate in summer internships in Germany at universities and research institutes. Undergraduate students in the RISE program receive stipends for housing and expenses. They are paired with doctoral students at German research institutes to be mentored and assist with graduate-level research.

Three hundred DAAD RISE internships are available each year. Gilbert was among 1,900 students who applied to the program in 2019. She was the only Barrett Polytechnic student to be chosen for DAAD RISE. Four Barrett Tempe students also were awarded DAAD RISE internships for summer 2019: Emily Apel, a chemistry major; Claire Block, a materials science and engineering major; Alex Hocken, a chemical engineering major; and Joelle Johnson, a chemistry and biochemistry major.

DAAD RISE is an annual summer program. The deadline to apply for summer 2020 is mid-January. Information about the program is available from the Office of National Scholarship Advisement. Information sessions about DAAD RISE will be held at the Barrett Tempe campus on October 29 and October 30.

Gilbert heard about RISE through the Honors Digest, an email sent out daily listing opportunities available for honors students.

Gilbert was a good candidate for the DAAD RISE program because, during the summer of 2018, she participated in research at Georgia Tech through the Research Exchange for Undergraduates program, another opportunity she learned about from the Honors Digest.

Gilbert was assisted with her DAAD RISE application by staff in the Office of National Scholarship Advisement (ONSA), housed in Honors Hall at the Barrett Tempe campus.

She worked with ONSA on her application, letters of interest and qualifications sent to each of the three labs and the doctoral students she applied to work with.

Gilbert said ONSA helped her highlight her qualifications and increase the likelihood of a positive response, as well as interview opportunities.

Gilbert stayed in Germany for approximately 3 1/2 months. She spent the first two weeks in Cologne, taking a German language course.

Upon completion of the language course, Gilbert immediately started her internship in Wessling, a city just outside of Munich, at the Oberpfaffenhofen location of the German Aerospace Center (DLR). She worked in an industrial research lab, focusing on different branches of engineering, including space exploration and control systems, and interacted with her PhD student mentor.

Gilbert said her DAAD RISE experience exposed her to different branches of engineering and helped her form her academic and career goals.

She is working on an engineering paper for publication. This year, she will apply for PhD programs domestically and a few master’s degree programs abroad. After completing graduate studies, she wants to work in a research lab at someplace like the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) or the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and ultimately start her own company.

Story by Deborah Eisenberg, a Barrett Honors Student majoring in engineering at the ASU Polytechnic campus. 

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