URI student earns degree while traveling the world
Todd McLeish, 401-874-7892
KINGSTON, R.I. -- May 10, 2005 -- When Arlington, Mass. resident Meghan Collins chose to attend the University of Rhode Island in 2000, she didn’t know it would take her from Kingston to Europe, Hawaii and numerous other locations during her college years. Now that she’s poised to graduate in May, she’s looking back at how her academic achievements and extracurricular activities turned her into a world traveler.
“The two big selling points for choosing to attend URI were the International Engineering Program, which combined my Spanish skills with my interest in science and math, and the Centennial Scholarship I received,” said Collins, who triple majored in electrical engineering, biomedical engineering and Spanish.
During her first two years on campus, she served as a tour guide for prospective students, performed as URI mascot Rhody the Ram at athletic events around the region, and got involved with several engineering organizations.
And then her travels began.
The summer following her sophomore year, Collins studied in Spain through URI’s Summer in Salamanca program. She returned to Spain the following year for an internship with Siemens Medical Solutions S.A., where she worked on quality assurance in the production of X-ray and ultrasound machines.
“I lived in the heart of Madrid, embraced the culture of modern Spain, and traveled extensively throughout Western Europe during vacations and long weekends,” she said excitedly. “This was a once in a lifetime experience that I hope I am lucky enough to repeat.”
From there she spent a semester studying at the University of Hawaii Manoa through the National Student Exchange program. “It was a wonderful way to spend part of my senior year,” Collins said. “Not only was I exposed to Hawaiian culture, which is radically different from the rest of the U.S., but my roommates and best friends were from Japan and Korea, so I was able to learn a lot about those cultures, too.”
She’s completing her college education this spring as an intern for the Kimberly-Clark Corp. in Neenah, Wis., designing futuristic training aids for Huggies© Pull-upsTM.
“I accepted this internship slightly dreading the thought of working as a diaper engineer, but I found it to be extremely interesting, challenging and rewarding,” said the 22-year-old URI student. “The technology and process that goes into current products and future designs is so much more involved than anyone could imagine.”
In between internships and travel, Collins conducted several research projects at URI. One involved development of an environmental control device that people with disabilities can use to easily operate electric and electronic devices like televisions, radios and lights. She also helped create an electro-mechanical “arm” for the elderly that can extend up to three feet to grasp objects that are out of reach. A patent application has been submitted for this device.
And if that’s not enough, she traveled to engineering conferences around the country as an officer of the URI chapter of the Society of Women Engineers, and conducted spinal cord research at Purdue University in Indiana through the National Science Foundation.
What’s next for the May graduate? While she’s been accepted to graduate school at Purdue, she has decided instead to accept a full-time position as a research scientist at Kimberly-Clark in its product and technology development division. And between graduation and the start of her job, she’ll be doing what she loves most – more traveling.
"Meghan Collins at Blarney Castle, Ireland."