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Reaching
for the skies
An engineering internship in Belgium offers modern
equipment, tight deadlines and international fri...
V
From the lab…
1
2
4
3
5
1- Test setup for pressure sensitive paint experiments.
2 - Compressor blades of a Rolls-Royce t...
... and around
Europe
Sculpture in the Belgian Royal Gardens, one
of the landmarks of Brussels.
All the houses in Knokke-H...
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Worldwide Student pages 16-21

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Worldwide Student pages 16-21

  1. 1. Reaching for the skies An engineering internship in Belgium offers modern equipment, tight deadlines and international friends. Photos by Michael Vergalla Story by Yulia Medvedeva in a down-to-earth internship Mike Vergalla loves traveling, exciting summers and studying fluid dynamics. That’s why a summer internship at von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics in Belgium was a great choice for him. VKI is an international community of students that hides on the southern border of Brussels right next to a huge forest. Mike’s supervisor at VKI, Professor Guillermo Paniagua, also supervised students from Italy, Hungary, Spain, Turkey, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Portugal and Belgium. Mike was the first American student Professor Paniagua mentored, but he had a chance to meet other American students at VKI, and he says they all are brilliant. Mike enjoyed helping his friends with their English skills. At first the tasks Mike received at VKI were way beyond what he thought he could accomplish. Eventually, he would complete the task to find that another bold endeavor was waiting for him. “It was amazing how much you can accomplish when pushed,” Mike says. Professor Paniagua was impressed with Mike’s ability to simplify complex problems: “During the whole time at VKI his enthusiasm remained unaltered, helping to keep very good spirits among the group of students working hard during the summer.” As the flags on the rostrum show, students from around the world study at VKI. Mike had two coffee breaks a day. Espresso helped to keep up with studying; coffee breaks were a nice time to make friends and chat about progress. Michael Vergalla adjusts a pitot tube for measuring pressure inside the low speed wind tunnel during his internship at von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics in Brussels. A model of an Italian city with a very old building was tested to assess the repairs and renovations needed. { Education }
  2. 2. V From the lab… 1 2 4 3 5 1- Test setup for pressure sensitive paint experiments. 2 - Compressor blades of a Rolls-Royce turbo shaft engine. 3 - An experimental setup of proximity sensor to measure blade tip clearance. 4 - End-plate from a linear turbine test rig. The colors trace the flow past the tip of a turbine blade. 5 - Network of pressure sensors for the turbine test rig. on Karman Institute provides the chance to learn while working in top level research projects,” Professor Guillermo Paniagua says. “The environment among students and professors is very friendly, allowing constant discussions in a relaxed atmosphere.” “ Airbus A380, the largest commercial airliner capable of carrying 850 passengers, debuted at the Le Bourget air show this summer. It completed its first flight in October with Singapore Airlines. Mike’s generation of aerospace engineers will decide what engines will power airliners that follow the A380 and Boeing 797. Mike Vergalla was lucky to spend a day at the biannual international air show Le Bourget not far from Paris. Le Bourget is a professional convention, and public is only allowed to enter on its last day. Attending Le Bourget is a great opportunity to see trends in aerospace engineering. …to Le Bourget... { Education } WORLDWIDE student18 Jan/Feb 2008 19
  3. 3. ... and around Europe Sculpture in the Belgian Royal Gardens, one of the landmarks of Brussels. All the houses in Knokke-Heist, the town along the Belgian coastline, must be painted white. Flowers on the bank of Lake Como in Italy. In Belgium, flowers are everywhere along the streets. The needle and thread symbolize the stitching together of a new Milan. A bar off the Grand Place in Brussels offers 2004 different beers at any given time. The Atomium, the Eiffel tower of Brussels, is a 337 feet tall magnified model of a molecule that offers a panoramic view of the city. Michael Vergalla is a senior student studying Aerospace Engineering at Florida Institute of Technology. He was just getting to a point of small conversations in French and ordering beer in Flemish when his internship at von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics in Belgium ended. { Education } WORLDWIDE student20 Jan/Feb 2008 21 Mike’s experience at VKI has already helped him in his classes back at home. His report on the research he did at VKI prepared him for writing a graduate thesis. Apart from being a valuable hands-on academic experience, the internship in Brussels was his chance to see the world. Mike traveled to Netherlands, Italy and France during his summer in Belgium. He says he now has a new outlook about events occurring in his country and abroad. “I was finally able to viewtheUnitedStatesthrough the eyes of other countries, and it is a dramatic contrast to what many Americans think.” The only downside of experience in Belgium were difficulties in finding a job. Mike wanted to work on the weekends to have extra money to spend. “It is much harder to do that in a country when you are not a citizen.” Mike missed his family, but three months at VKI just wasn’t long enough. “I wanted to stay because I still had so much more to see and learn.” ww

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