Kevin Valerio is a soon to be graduate from the University of Rhode Island where he is majoring in Mechanical Engineering and German as part of the International Engineering Program. Recently, he was able to I study abroad in Germany! Read about his experience below!
What university do you attend, what is your major/grad year and why did you choose it?
I attend the University of Rhode Island. I am studying Mechanical Engineering and German as part of the International Engineering Program here at URI and will be graduating this year May 2018. I chose mechanical engineering because since high school I was always good at math and physics. I was always interested in applied math and physics in real world applications and engineering is all about that. Now, every time I drive over a bridge, look at a skyscraper, drive a car, get on an airplane, I always think about all the engineering that went into designing them. Secondly, I chose to study German alongside mechanical engineering because I really wanted to learn a new language to better market myself when looking for internships and full time positions.
What are your post-grad plans?
During my undergraduate studies I had the opportunity to complete several internships, two of them with Caterpillar Inc. world’s leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment. They also manufacture diesel and gas engines, and industrial gas turbines. I interned with Caterpillar in South Carolina and also in Germany during my year abroad. With these past experiences I was able to leverage my networks within the company and receive a full time offer of employment. I am currently in the three year rotational Leadership & Technical Development Program Manufacturing Engineering track and am really excited for this opportunity because I will grow as an individual and professional and be able to explore different cities in the U.S.
Are you part of any on-campus groups and why did you join?
I am very active at URI. I am currently the Vice President of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), and National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). Both of these student run organizations focus on empowering minorities and encouraging them to pursue S.T.E.M related fields. I strongly believe in the mission and really wanted to get involved. Also during my first couple weeks of classes I realized that there aren’t many students of color in engineering. I wanted to find a place where I felt that I belonged, and I was able to find that in SHPE and NSBE.
Where did you study abroad and why did you choose it?
I studied abroad at the Technical University of Darmstadt in Germany. I chose Germany because going in to college I could already speak English and Spanish, so I thought it would be great to be able to say I can speak three languages. I always knew I wanted to do Mechanical Engineering and combining a degree in Engineering with studying abroad in Germany was the best choice.
What are some highlights from your trip?
The first half of my study abroad experience consisted of a semester at the Technical University of Darmstadt. There I was enrolled in classes that were taught fully in German, which was very challenging but rewarding. During this time I was able to meet students from all around the world for example Norway, Egypt, Taiwan. I still keep in contact with them and will be able to have a local friend to show me around if I ever travel to their country. The university also organized trips for students to museums, other cities, and tours of manufacturing plants. This was a great opportunity for me to get to know other students and also get and learn more about the German culture.
Secondly, I spent six months working at a German company called “Motoren-Werke Mannheim”. This facility manufactures large gas engines for generators for industrial, residential and many other applications. Working at this facility was truly a dream come true. The first couple of weeks were tough because all of my work was done in German so I had a little difficulty in adjusting. My supervisor was very understanding and helped me grow so much as an individual and professional. Here I worked as a Contamination Control Engineer. My main projects consisted of ensuring that all parts, workstations, and fluid systems were free of any harmful metallic particles.
Thirdly, I had the opportunity to do a lot of traveling. While studying abroad I was able to manage my time effectively so that I can take long weekends and travel to another country. Over the course of my year studying abroad I was able to visit 16 countries. Being located in Germany was ideal because I could take a train and be in Paris, Amsterdam, Zurich, or Prague and be there in a couple hours. Christmas time is taken very seriously in Germany. Every city has a huge Christmas Market called “Weihnachtsmarkt”, where they had a bunch of stalls that sell; food, souvenirs, and of course German beer.
We are super proud of Kevin and cant wait to see the great impact he makes in the field of Mechanical Engineering!