Biomedical Engineering student Hasina Shir had the personal and professional experience of a lifetime this past summer in Germany. Hasina participated in the Stuttgart University Program for Experiencing Research (SUPER), a Study Abroad program which places STEM students in active labs to earn valuable experience on real projects. SUPER connects students to researchers in Architecture, Energy Technology, Process Engineering, Biological Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Information Technology, Aerospace Engineering, Production Engineering, Automotive Engineering, and Optical Science. In Summer 2022, Hasina was hosted by the Institute for Technical Optics in Stuttgart, Germany, and worked on a project developing technology to detect disease outbreaks in medical settings.
“My project dealt with developing a system which used a combination of radiation pressure and laminar flow to sort particles (like bacteria and viruses) along a microfluidic chip. At the end of the microfluidic chip, I was to build an imaging system that would be able to see what the particle was. This was with the intent to be used as a proof of concept for a device to be used in hospitals at hand sanitizer stations. Hypothetically, the hand sanitizer stations would monitor the bacteria and viruses in the hospital when people placed their hands in it for sanitizer and recognize when a new onset of disease has increased in quantity” – Hasina Shir
In addition to familiarizing herself with the new project, Hasina also familiarized herself with the people and culture around her. What started out as a challenge became an extremely rewarding experience.
“It was at first daunting to be living in a foreign country, working in a foreign lab, and working on foreign research, but with each passing day, I began to feel more confident in my work [….] The phenomenal part of being there was feeling so accepted by my institute. I don’t speak German, but whenever I was around, everyone immediately switched to English and tried to make me feel as included as possible. From planning a movie night at the institute, to planning a trip to Europa-Park, I was completely blown away by how happy I was at the institute.” – Hasina Shir
Beyond her work, Hasina got to explore Stuttgart and neighboring areas in Germany. She visited the Porsche Museum, Heidelberg Castle, and Europa-Park (Germany’s biggest theme park). As Hasina experienced, studying abroad opens the door to new sites and regions of the world.
“While being in Germany, I have had the privilege to experience life and culture in a different country; whether it be through discussions with my lab-mates, flat-mates, and everyone I met along the way. I found myself growing as a researcher, as well as an individual. The lessons I learned here I will carry with me for the rest of my life.” – Hasina Shir
Here are Hasina’s tips for Study Abroad students:
- Take everything day by day. Don’t let yourself become too overwhelmed when it comes to your project, do good diligent work and by the time the program is over you will have great things to present
- Explore the area you are around with the intent of living like a local- it made me feel so much more at home and helped me build more confidence in myself
- Travel, travel, travel! You know some of the public holidays ahead of the trip, plan ahead for those trips. On weekends, going to nearby cities on trains is very feasible
- Have faith and confidence in yourself, if you don’t believe in yourself, no one will
Applications for SUPER Stuttgart 2023 are Open Now!
Additionally, students interested in studying abroad should consider applying to the nationally competitive Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship for Study Abroad. Hasina was a recipient in 2022!