Summer 2015 Background

Catalyst: DCI Travel Scholarship

It all started when I won a travel scholarship to Europe from DCI Engineers & HDG Architects in Seattle, Washington. The scholarship provided funds for traveling to Berlin, Prague, and Amsterdam, one week each, to appreciate civil engineering and architectural feats from historic cities.

The application for this scholarship consisted of solely a video and a form with personal and academic information. The video was supposed to show your passion, personality, and portfolio, and show why you should be picked for this scholarship. I thought I would apply for two reasons:

  • It was limited to PNW (Pacific Northwest) and Wyoming students, so this it wasn’t a complete shot in the dark.
  • I like video editing and thought this would be a fun chance to use my learned skills for something that mattered.

I worked on the video for an hour or two in the weeks leading up to the due date but mostly completed it on the night before it was due with motivational help from Tara. About half way through the night, after a few hours of trying a few things with the video, I became suddenly frustrated with my progress, declaring that there was no way my video was going to be any good and that the whole thing was absurd. Tara then wrote up a short outline on some scrap paper and I refocused, continued working, and finished the video at five in the morning the day it was due.

Here is the video:

At this point in my life I was interested in applying to scholarships because I had not done it as much when I was in undergrad, and I had been successful a few times when I did apply to them. I did not have high hopes at all for winning this scholarship; I just wanted to submit my video. For some reason, I thought that the decision would be made in mid-February so I had not even been thinking about it when I was told on February 1st that I needed to be at a meeting the next day at 12:55. I was actually worried I was in trouble for something and they wouldn’t tell me what it was. Nevertheless, I went to the meeting the next day and about 60 seconds before the FaceTime call was supposed to start I realized what all the commotion was about. Stephanie and Josh Aden, principals of DCI Engineers, proceeded to congratulate me over the phone and express their excitement for the trip. Over spring break, in mid-march, I was invited up to Seattle to visit DCI, get a tour of their company and employees, go out to lunch with some of them, and go over details of the trip. It was an exciting trip and everyone at DCI was friendly and welcoming!

Seattle Docks

Seattle Docks

Alpine Europe

Before even applying to the travel scholarship, I heard about the Alpine Europe trip that two professors from the OSU College of Forestry were hosting. I was interested in attending the trip but, after figuring out that it would have cost more than $4000, I realized it most likely would not be possible. In comes the scholarship paying my way to Europe. Alpine Europe trip was then realizable.

There are a group of ten OSU College of Forestry students and a group of five students from the University of Primorska in Slovenia, also studying topics in the field of wood products. All of the students are undergraduates except for three master’s students and one Ph.D. There are also three professors, two from OSU and one from Slovenia.

The objective of the trip is to increase student knowledge regarding the following topics:

  • Principles of forest management in middle Europe.
  • Factors influencing residential community planning and design and recent developments in sustainable communities.
  • Forest products manufacturing and how the industry responds to regional resources and consumer demand.
  • Recent developments in the design of wood products for residential use, including the use of wood in high efficiency residential systems.
  • Interaction between culture and natural resource management decisions

The following are pictures that were taken when the professors did a pre-tour of this trip in 2014:

To see some other blogs/facebook pages that are publicizing posts and pictures on this trip, see the following links:

  1. Discovering Alpine Europe (blog) written by Kendall Conroy, Anyssa French, and Madi Duff (three undergraduate students at OSU)
  2. Renewable Materials at Oregon State University (facebook page) run by Chris Knowles (professor at OSU)

Merk Timber Internship in Germany

After going to one of the interview/orientations for the Alpine Europe trip, I learned that one of the students who was going had acquired an internship in Amsterdam. I hadn’t even thought about the possibility of an internship in Europe. I was 100% set on getting a position at CH2M Hill, an international engineering firm that originated in Corvallis, Oregon. Good thing I explored other options because I didn’t get an offer from them.

I decided to reach out to the faculty in the wood science department and the civil engineering department at OSU to see if they had contacts in Europe that I could get in touch with in hopes of acquiring an internship at a cross-laminated timber (CLT) manufacturer.

CLT is the area of my research at OSU. I will be testing connections between CLT floor panels. CLT is an engineered wood product that can be used as structural walls or floors of a building and can effectively replace concrete or steel as the main structural material of a building. The excitement surrounding CLT is due to the fact that it is the future of taller wood buildings (>6 stories). Here is a link to my poster for more details.

Sullivan SWST Poster

Sullivan SWST Poster

After spending about two to three weeks making contacts and expressing interest in an internship in Europe to different parties, there was a period of about three to four weeks where I didn’t hear anything from anybody. I thought that the idea of the internship was dead at this point, that it wasn’t going to happen. Then, I heard back from someone at Merk Timber, that they were interested in having me work for them. Over the next few weeks, the international coordinator at the College of Forestry, Merk Timber, and I figured out work permits and other technical things and realized that it was going to work out. I was in thorough disbelief that any of this was actually happening. I had gone into this endeavor with relatively low expectations. I’m still in disbelief that it happened.

Merk Timber is located in Aichach, Germany, an hour northwest of Munich. They are a manufacturer of engineered wood products (including CLT), designer, and construction firm, and are partners with the large contracting company, Zueblin (LINK). I will be working there for 8 weeks, doing different things including assisting in preparing marketing and technical documents targeted at the U.S. companies, spending a day or two working in the field installing CLT panels, and hopefully working on a project doing structural design/analysis with CLT.

I’m really excited for the internship and I think it will be very rewarding.

Aichach, Germany

Aichach, Germany


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