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Reflections on a Summer Internship in Warsaw, Poland

By Jesse Marquisee, ISE, 2018

 

My internship this past summer was an incredible experience and I never could have imagined how much I would love it. Myself and three other students from Ohio State, Jacob Cantin, Dmitriy Dorfman and Luke Burgett all worked at the Institute of Aviation in Warsaw, Poland. The Institute is in the process of developing a Dual Ph.D. program with The Ohio State University College of Engineering that is intended to strengthen an already dynamic partnership.

Currently, this partnership involves sending undergraduates from OSU to Warsaw, Poland to live at the Institute and spend a summer interning there.  We were each placed in a different research lab at the Institute. Between the four of us we worked on three different projects. Luke’s goal was to help his team find an equation to model dynamic helicopter rotor blade stall, Jacob and Dmitriy worked on optimizing a satellite thruster, and I designed an engine model for part of a European Defense Agency project to create an autonomous taxiing service for ultra-lightweight aircraft.

This internship helped me learn so much. From networking at international conferences to making friends with people from all over the world I was placed in brand new situations that I could never have imagined. I got first-hand experience seeing how truly diverse our world is. The project I was working on involved collaboration with other institutes from all over Europe. It was amazing to see people from different countries, who grew up in different worlds, work together to complete a project.

Working in a foreign environment was also eye-opening. There were many little things that I learned about Polish customs that I never would have thought about. For example, every time I saw a friend, an acquaintance or even met a new person it was expected to give them a handshake. When I returned to the United States I realized that I was shaking everyone's hand and not even thinking about it.

I enjoyed my project, it was interesting and every day I applied skills that I learned in my classes at Ohio State. I used math that I was worried I would never need to use again. Most importantly I used MATLAB for almost everything I did. Using MATLAB everyday improved my skills vastly.

Another benefit of the internship was that I learned to use SIMULINK.  SIMULINK was imperative for the success of my project and I had never used it before.  Lucky for me, my supervisor had attended SIMULINK training and was able to quickly teach me how to use the software. I learned about model-based design and did hours of research on existing engine models. There were also many challenges I faced while working on this project. Models already existed similar to the engine I was using, but the information available about how these models functioned was limited. The specific engine I was modeling did not have any existing models, and thus I had to start from scratch.

One of my favorite parts of living in Warsaw for an entire summer was becoming deeply familiar with the city. Do not get me wrong, I loved spending a few days here and there in several European cities. However, spending an extended period of time in Warsaw gave us the perfect opportunity to really understand the city and the country.

We were welcomed into many Polish homes and were able to have traditional, home-cooked polish, food. I saw what it was like to live in many different parts of Poland. We attended an opera and saw a play, both were phenomenal experiences even though the only words we understood were the very basic ones. Our co-workers even took us on a three day sailing trip in northern Poland. We had campfires with them, went swimming and even explored abandoned World War II bunkers hidden in the Polish wilderness.

I am very grateful and appreciative that the College of Engineering allowed me to participate in this incredible opportunity. I do not think I can stress enough how thankful I am that Poland took the four of us in and treated us like locals. I do not think I can ever expect to have a better internship. I know for certain that I will return to Poland for a visit to see a city and a country that I adore and visit the wonderful friends I made.