ETH itself was very impressive as a research institution. The building I was working in was fairly new and with very modern looking wood and glass architecture, with a great view over the city and the lake from the higher elevation on the right bank. The facilities were all excellent, just from what I initially saw at my own office building. When I went to their extended science campus at Hönggerberg, I was in complete awe of what they kept there. There was an extensive collection of the latest equipment, stuff that I thought only industry would be able to afford.
The students and professors were very friendly and open to helping me on whatever project work I would be pursuing. They also all spoke very good English, which was fantastic since I have no background in German. Apparently any studies done at ETH past a bachelor’s degree are taught in English, so it is required for the students and staff to have a good grasp of this language that is not even an official language of Switzerland. It reflected the idea that ETH is an internationally oriented university, with requirements for its own students to study abroad as well as a welcoming attitude towards visiting students such as myself. There were also good connections with industry, as indicated to me by a whole day event called Industry Day that occurred while I was there that had well-known visitors such as ABB, Siemens, as well as academic scholars from around the world who were associated with ETH.
There was not much I could contribute in terms of research knowledge to the group that was hosting my Rice professor and me, since I was just a rising third year undergraduate and not well-versed in the latest accomplishments of their work. However they did show some interest in the projects my professor and I were pursuing, and the PhD students were particularly good at coaching me through the processing of these devices. I was also able to find students in other lab groups that collaborated with our host group, and these individuals were also very helpful. All the research groups there that were part of the “Micro and Nanosystems Platform” seemed close-knit and shared their equipment and knowledge very frequently. Back home, it seems like the research groups are all very much independent of each other, with the professor actively working with all of his students, even undergraduates, but not as much with other professors or industry. Maybe I’m just speaking from a Rice perspective, which means coming from a small, teaching-focused university with not much emphasis on research. ETH is fairly large and has a rich history in research, going back to Albert Einstein in his day. The professors are very much the head of the research groups, but they interact less with their subordinates and are mostly busy maintaining their extensive network with the rest of the department and outside institutes and companies. The PhD students take the Masters students as their close protégés, and have them mostly working on projects related to their own thesis work. I think that overall this is a very efficient method of running a research-focused community.
What I probably enjoyed the most about
There were very few dislikes that I could list about the trip. Maybe if
This trip actually gave me some consideration to getting a PhD in engineering, and also possibly to get one at ETH or other schools in