A Life-Changing Experience
In the summer of 2018, Zachariah Wargel applied what he’s learned in his mechanical engineering classes to a real life project, got a taste of what graduate school might be like, traveled overseas, and learned how to navigate by himself in a foreign country. This unique opportunity came about through the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program, funded by the National Science Foundation. REU connects undergraduates with research projects at national and international institutions.
Zachariah was assigned to the Technical University of Darmstadt, in Germany, where he worked on an undergraduate research project involving automotive engineering. A group of 10 worked on the project, which included development and execution of a design plan, team coordination, research, and design development.
Prepared for the Challenge
Zachariah said that he felt prepared for the tasks he was given as a member of the team.
“I found that my education can be used in the real world,” said Zachariah. “Also, UE’s mechanical engineering department has a team project oriented curriculum and it prepared me well to work with others on this project.”
A Taste of Graduate School
Zachariah noted that the REU program is designed to expose undergraduates to the kind of work that can be expected in graduate studies.
“This has definitely driven me toward pursuing my education above the undergraduate level. Having this experience on grad school applications helps my chances of being accepted.”
Out into the World
An Evansville native, Zachariah had only been outside of the Midwest once and had never been on a plane before he flew to Germany.
The people on his project team were from the east and west coasts, the Midwest, and Puerto Rico. Many were experienced travelers.
“One weekend I traveled to Madrid with three girls from the group, I was amazed at how simple it was for them to find flights, hostels, and plan our days there with museums, parks, and activities. By the end of it, however, I had gained confidence and spent a weekend on my own in Amsterdam.”