A German engineering experience

Studying abroad can be an opportunity to gain insights into a new field of expertise. Anthony DiNardi, a mechanical engineering student from Clemson University, took classes in aeronautical engineering in Hamburg.

Smiling student in front of an aircraft engine

Last year Anthony DiNardi, a twenty-one-year-old mechanical engineering student at Clemson University, had a difficult decision to make. 'I had a really interesting internship lined up for the spring, when I was invited to an information session about studying abroad in Hamburg, Germany. Right from my freshman year I had wanted to study abroad. My sister had done it and loved it. But somehow I kept thinking I’ve got time and then never really got round to looking into it properly,' he admits. 'But when I heard about the HAW Hamburg programme I knew that my plans were going to change. It was going to give me the opportunity to study something that I was passionate about and that made it all the more enticing.'

Anthony has already completed two summer internships during his studies at Clemson and it was during his second internship at General Atomics Aeronautical Systems that he discovered a passion for the aviation industry. He worked in systems engineering, where he learned how important it is to keep the big picture in mind when you are an engineer. 'It is easy to get tunnel vision when you are working on a specific part of an aircraft,' he explains of his experience. 'As a systems engineer you always consider the product or the system as a whole. We designed new products with ideas coming from a top-down approach and based on customer needs. I also learned about the importance of communication and how to interact with different customers. And I just really enjoyed working in aircraft systems.'

I saw the opportunity to get expertise in a field I want to work in.

Anthony DiNardi

Clemson doesn’t offer aeronautical engineering, so when Anthony heard about the aeronautical engineering classes in English at HAW Hamburg he saw the opportunity to get industry-specific knowledge and satisfy his love of travel at the same time. 'I have only 32 credits left, so I figured I can stress myself out the next two semesters and enjoy this one!' he says, laughing. 'But seriously, I saw the opportunity to get expertise in a field I want to work in, so I wasn’t too worried about the credits, but thankfully, I was able to get three of the Hamburg engineering classes to transfer back for my Clemson degree, which is great. And I am very fortunate that my parents have always supported me.' He has an important piece of advice for those considering doing the same: 'Mechanical engineering at Clemson has three to four technical electives, which makes the programme really flexible, but it also has lots of prerequisites, which can make things difficult, so students should plan early and build their study-abroad semester into their study schedule.'

Getting an insight into aeronautical engineering

In Hamburg Anthony took classes in Aircraft Design, Aircraft Engines, Aircraft Systems and Architecture of the Aircraft Cabin. His favourite class was Aircraft Design, where he looked at the process of designing aircraft with preliminary sizing and the different parameters that need to be considered. 'I haven’t done anything like that before, so it was really interesting to see the different variations and how the parameters are all linked together.' Back in Clemson Anthony has applied to be part of a Boeing aerospace student project, which only a small number of students can participate in. 'It is a really cool UAV project with Boeing mentors, so I hope that the knowledge I have acquired in Hamburg will help me get a place on the team.'

In Aircraft Systems Anthony was able to get practical experience on the A320 systems simulators at the HAW Hamburg, while in Aircraft Engines the focus was more on theory and why different engines are built in different ways. 'Architecture of the Aircraft Cabin is totally different to the other engineering classes, and I really liked the professor. He has an interesting perspective on design. We went to the Aircraft Interior Expo in Hamburg to see new cabin design concepts. Each student team had a topic to research. Mine was food,' he says, laughing.

Communication is everything

In his internships Anthony had already discovered the importance of good communication, particularly in diverse teams. Did his study abroad semester add to his knowledge? 'Absolutely! School aside, I think the most important lesson I have learned in Hamburg is the ability to communicate with different people. I have become more open-minded and less judgemental. I have made friends from different European countries as well as from the US and Mexico, so I have a whole new set of social skills. And Hamburg has been so welcoming! I didn’t really know what to expect, but everything was great from day one. The HAW weBuddy Programme made it extremely easy to meet people and make friends. The semester isn’t over yet and we are already planning our reunion for next year!' he adds, smiling.

So, it sounds like he made the right decision. 'Definitely! If I want to work for an aeronautical engineering company when I graduate, then I have these Hamburg classes on my resume. They make me more flexible. I have travelled to different countries and made memories I’ll never forget and will cherish forever. An internship is an internship, but you can’t get these kinds of experiences in a company. The semester has been nothing short of amazing!'

I. Weatherall / June 2019