Why did you decide to come to the U.S. to pursue your degree and, specifically, how did you decide to come to Philly, Drexel, and MSE?
I had spent some time in Berkeley, CA, where I did research on porous biomaterials and wrote my Master’s thesis. While there, I had a chance to meet my advisor, Dr. Wegst, who had been a visiting scientist at Berkeley and had just become a tenure-track professor at Drexel. After finishing my mechanical engineering diploma in Germany, I was offered to come to Philadelphia and continue research on the field of bone replacement scaffolds in her new group. The two main reasons to come to Drexel were the chance to work on an exciting project, which I really liked, and the opportunity to build up a new lab. Furthermore, Drexel’s reputation, facilities, and location right in the heart of Philadelphia were important arguments for my decision.
What are your favorite things about Philly?
During my time at Drexel, I lived in the Art Museum area. I loved the balance between a metropolitan city, small neighborhoods, and being out in nature, which is possible through Fairmount Park. Unlike many other American cities, Philadelphia always gave me the feeling of being a “grown” city with a lot of past and ongoing development, which has a history that goes back to the foundation of the U.S. Also, I think I would not have been able to live in Philly without my daily egg and cheese sandwich…
What was your typical schedule like during the week and weekend?
I would say, on average, I worked 10 hour days, but having 12 hour days or even more was not exceptional at all. Many weekends I came in to get some work done or to start or finish time-sensitive experiments, but sometimes I also managed to just stay out, relax, and try not to deal with work at all for a day.
What do you find are the biggest differences between your home country and the U.S.?
One of the major differences is the amount of small talk and communication in everyday situations like shopping or at work. In the beginning, it really bothered me that I had to talk so much. Now, when I go back to Germany, I am shocked that I can run errands and return home without having spoken a single word.
What have you been doing post-graduation?
After graduation, I worked as a post doc for almost a year, mainly to bridge the time until I found a job in industry, but also to gain further experience in a project different from my Ph.D. topic. After this, I accepted an offer in industry, where I have since been working as a senior research engineer in a large ceramics company, building on the expertise I acquired during my academic education.
How do you feel your Drexel materials degree has prepare you for your post-graduation career?
My time at Drexel prepared me very well for my post-graduation career. During my time at Drexel, besides my research activity, I taught a lot, which was a great way of learning to explain technical concepts to people who are new to a certain field. Also, I organized, ran, and evaluated many projects where I had to interact with collaborators or had to supervise undergraduate and graduate students, which provided me with a lot of experience needed in industry. These skills of interaction with others, working in a team and explaining or presenting my research results are essential parts of my daily work now.
Do you have any advice for international students looking to study in the U.S.?
As an international student, you should start looking into the educational system in the U.S. rather early. Even though, through the Bologna process, the EU tries to make it easier to transfer between research institutions in different countries, it can still be complicated to switch. When planning to study in the U.S., I would definitely contact professors directly and ask them for advice and hints about whom to contact. The necessary information can also be found on the webpages of different research institutions, but can be rather confusing, especially when you are not familiar with the educational system. Make sure you know exactly what you have to do for a successful application, which most likely includes a TOEFL test and a GRE score.