The Global Engineering Alliance for Research and Education (GEARE) provides a one-of-a-kind opportunity to integrate language study, study abroad, cultural training, domestic and international work/research experiences, and global design team projects into the 4-year Engineering curriculum. GEARE participants Nick Mori and Roy Ramirez turned adversity into opportunity when facing a global pandemic.
GRIT+ TURNING A DREAM INTO REALITY
Nick Mori, a senior studying industrial engineering, originally planned to study abroad and intern in Japan during the spring of 2021. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it looked like he would be unable to complete the international travel component of the GEARE program. Instead, Mori made the most of his opportunity by starting what would become a yearlong co-op with Tesla in California. He was eventually sent to the Netherlands for a 3-month work experience. While there he worked on the batteries for the Tesla Model SX and Model 3Y programs, creating new line designs, developing machine learning algorithms, and making process improvements, he said. Mori was the first North American student Tesla sponsored to work in Europe and is the start of consistent opportunities for Purdue students to work with Tesla in the U.S. and abroad. He is currently studying abroad in Hong Kong and plans to return to campus this summer to complete his domestic internship working for Microsoft. “What started out as a dream slowly started becoming a reality,” Mori said. “I cannot stress enough how impactful and enriching these opportunities have been.”
A stolen passport and an extended stay in an unfamiliar country set the stage for an unforgettable experience for Roy Ramirez, a December 2020 graduate in Aeronautics and Astronautics, who found himself stuck in France after learning his passport was taken from his backpack while he was out in the city.
With the pandemic in 2020 changing the narrative of the world, Ramirez’s trip was supposed to be cut short in order to safely bring him home. Without a passport and with closed embassies all over the globe due to COVID-19, he was going to have to stay in France a while longer. Despite this, Ramirez persevered and was part of a global experience that has shaped his future.
As part of the GEARE program, he studied at ESTACA University in France. His plan was to do an internship following his semester abroad. Since he couldn’t leave France, he maximized his time by studying, expanding his French language abilities and knowledge of French culture, and brainstorming for his startup, AREX – a pivotal project exploring the globalization of space.
He secured an internship position with the deep-tech company named ThrustMe, working on innovation propulsion systems for satellites. His passion is chemical propulsion, having designed, built, and tested the first liquid rocket engine in the Central American and Caribbean region.
The internship has helped this Costa Rican native with his own endeavor, Project Polaris, a 2-year project that focuses on the globalization of space, enabling participants to design a rover capable of traveling to and operating on Titan. What makes this project unique is the use of a balloon instead of wheels for the rover to get around.
Ramirez currently has 85 people from 12 different countries working on the project. He is proud that one of the mentors for the project was the director of the Huygens Mission, which is the only mission that has successfully landed an object on Titan.
His advice to those interested in GEARE comes from a memorable conversation with his dad. “Doors are already closed,” his dad said. “You don’t lose anything by knocking on them.” Ramirez believes that if someone feels they are underqualified for an opportunity, still go for it. “If you knock and they don’t open, the door was already closed,” he said. “But if they open the door, you know you didn’t miss out.”