Undergraduate Research Experience: Kevin Matheus, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Left-right: Civil engineering exchange students Kathleen McClenahan (FSU) and Kevin Matheus (FSU), pose with fellow researchers from Germany."

This summer’s research opportunity was a major milestone in my life that has left me completely transformed. As a natural analyst, I was able to compare the different cultures and develop a global perspective that has left me eager to chase my goal of contributing to the success of a global firm.

I have not only gained a global awareness, but also inspiration by promoting this program to my fellow engineering friends, encouraging them to consider this opportunity.

Going abroad was something I ignored for years, even after my mother had encouraged me to look into it. Of course you should always listen to your mother, right?

I had not considered going abroad before because I had never heard of such an opportunity for engineering students.

Once I learned about the program, I immediately applied because I suspected the impact it would have on my life. It indeed became a breakthrough for me personally and how I view the future. This is one of the resources that our College of Engineering is providing to students that will equip them with the skills to land them professional jobs with strong firms in the future.

Forget the résumé building aspect... Once you go abroad, you become a magnet to employers! It's the fruit of getting out of your own comfort zone. The experience has inspired me to not only chase these big opportunities, but lead people to do so as well.

In the past year I have started a student chapter of IStructE, an international structural engineering organization, therefore, it makes sense that we offer an international program as one of the resources available to undergraduate students. With the help of a few great friends on our Executive Council, I am using it to advance this vision and partnership, simultaneously.

Whenever I had heard of people going abroad, it was usually open to non-STEM majors. However, the projects we conducted were related to our field and also gave us insight on new topics, such as, sustainable concrete mix designs and tunneling.

When we arrived, the German professors greeted us with a welcome barbecue so we could get to know all the students at FH Münster who are also interested in this new exchange program as well.

The people I have met were not just the friendly Germans with whom I worked. We got to meet some of the other ambitious Europeans that have the same drive to explore new possibilities. It's fulfilling to comeback to the States and know that you have friends in all these different countries who will warmly welcome you to their homeland, anytime. And on that note, I have been asked, "What was your favorite place you visited?" My answer: Münster for this reason! Its people are amazing. It is the centralized college town of Europe. I sensed that people there hardworking yet they really enjoy their lives, making it a very balanced environment. I wonder why.... maybe because Germans are very efficient!

I conducted research along side Kaeli McClenahan at FH Münster and worked directly with two German students on our rubber concrete project. The Germans, Niklas Gieben and Marina Hebbecker, will be coming to America next month to join the other international students that have also come from overseas to work with Dr. Kampmann.

The exposure to each new country's culture has increased my curiosity of just about anything and everything from history, culture, philosophy, and of course engineering.

The partnership with this German university is the perfect way for us to give our College of Engineering exposure worldwide, especially in a country that also leads in engineering and innovation.

Without Dr. Kampmann, this international research would have not been possible and so I would like to give a special thanks to him for making this happen for us.