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Sophomore Will “RISE” to New Challenges in Germany

Jocelyn Hess’s research may be heading for the moon, but she’s stopping in Europe first.

Hess, a sophomore in the MSE department, was recently awarded a prestigious DAAD Research Internships in Science and Engineering (RISE) internship, which gives her the opportunity to perform research at Germany’s federal aeronautics institute, the German Aerospace Center (DLR).

“I wanted to pursue a research opportunity this summer to better prepare myself for graduate school,” Hess said. “DAAD RISE is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for me to perform research while going abroad, giving me new perspectives and experiences.”

DAAD is a German organization that funds international exchange programs for students and researchers in North America and the British Isles. Only about 15% of applicants receive RISE internships each year.

“I am eager to see all of the research being done at the DLR, but I am also looking forward to exploring as much of Germany as I can during my time there,” Hess said. “I am especially excited to visit Cologne Cathedral, castles, the Mercedes-Benz Museum, and the historical sites and museums in Berlin.”

Hess will be spending most of her time near the Cathedral, as her project is based at the Institute of Materials Physics in Space in Cologne. She will be helping DLR researchers develop a glass-fiber reinforced ceramic composite made with simulated lunar regolith—a study that will help determine whether lunar infrastructure could be made with native materials, rather than supplies shipped from Earth.

A Knoxville native, Hess has dreamed of becoming an engineer since childhood, when she began hearing about the research coming out of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). She came to UT not just for its cutting-edge engineering program, but because of the university’s connections to the national lab.

Hess has taken advantage of those connections, conducting a US Department of Energy Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (SULI) at ORNL last summer. She also researches polymer-carbon fiber and polymer-glass fiber composites in the lab of Uday Vaidya, UT’s Governor’s Chair in Advanced Composites Manufacturing and a professor in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering.

“With my laboratory experience at ORNL, my research under Dr. Vaidya, and my materials science classes, I feel prepared to pursue research confidently in a new environment,” she said. “This opportunity will let me apply the composite manufacturing and characterization techniques I know to a field of materials I have not researched thus far.”

Whether in her hometown’s national lab, halfway across the globe, or off the globe altogether, Hess’s passion for materials science will keep her grounded.

“The study of materials is exciting because it allows you to study the building blocks and foundations of the world,” said Hess. “I love being able to create and research materials I can see and touch. I feel it brings my research to life.”


Izzie Gall (865-974-7203,