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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Exeter resident awarded scholarship to study in Germany

Media Contact: Todd McLeish, 401-874-7892

URI student excited about cross-cultural experience

KINGSTON, R.I. -- July 24, 2006 -- University of Rhode Island student Alison Laferriere has been chosen as one of 62 undergraduate students from the U.S. and Canada to receive a prestigious scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service to study in Germany during the 2006-2007 school year.

A resident of Exeter, Laferriere is studying electrical engineering and German at URI through the University’s International Engineering Program, which requires students to major in an engineering discipline and a foreign language and spend a year studying and working abroad.

In Germany, Laferriere will take engineering and language classes for a semester at the Technical University of Braunschweig, followed by a six-month internship at Siemens, one of the world’s largest electronics companies.

“I want to spend time in Germany for a lot of reasons: first, to learn more about myself, the world and engineering,” she said. “Engineering is becoming a very globalized field, and many employers will be looking to hire workers with cross-cultural experience. I also just want to experience European culture.”

Laferriere’s URI experience has been filled with numerous accolades and extracurricular activities. She belongs to several academic and professional honor societies, won a scholarship from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, earned a second place award at URI’s student film festival, and is a member of URI’s Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) Team, which competes against other universities to design and build mini-submarines that accomplish tasks without human control. She also spent the summer of 2005 as a URI Coastal Fellow conducting research on AUVs.

This summer she is working in North Carolina at the NOAA Undersea Research Center as an AUV technician.

“ Currently, I’m developing an application that will enable the staff and scientists to plot and analyze the large amounts of data that they get from the different sensors on board the AUV,” she explained. “I am also in charge of creating a system for data recordkeeping for the vehicle, developing metadata record templates, and assisting the staff with testing and evaluating the vehicle's performance. Also, I will be assisting with mission planning and various other tasks involving the vehicle's operations.”

After her year abroad and a final year of study at URI, Laferriere hopes to pursue a graduate degree and ultimately work in the field of signal processing and ocean instrumentation to help scientists remotely explore the oceans with the help of underwater wireless communication technologies.

But she’s not going to leave her enthusiasm for cross-cultural experiences behind. “I would also love to learn more languages and have a job where I can travel,” she said.