article Fall 2022


A glimpse into the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering’s five-week summer lab program in Oviedo, Spain—an opportunity to see the world and complete the capstone course in the most exciting way possible!

For most students, the idea of taking a summer class can be daunting. However, it’s a reality for all students majoring in chemical and biological engineering at UW-Madison. After completing CBE 324, 426, and 430, all chemical engineering seniors are required to take a 5-credit hour summer lab: CBE 424.

This five-week intensive course requires students to work in an industrial lab. During this time, students conduct experiments, write lab reports, and meet company representatives. Despite the rigorous coursework involved in completing this capstone project, chemical engineering majors often recall this class as the culmination of their time at UW-Madison.

Some students take advantage of this required summer class by choosing to complete the program abroad. Through this program, students gain the opportunity to visit local companies like Bayer–the only supplier in the world for acetyl salicylic acid–or meet with representatives from the biofuel company Vertex Bioenergy. With destinations including Spain, China, Hong Kong, and Ireland, engineering students can explore the world.

UW-Madison’s College of Engineering organizes these programs in partnership with universities across the world to offer the same rigorous course in an international setting. For engineering students who are unable to complete a study abroad program during the regular academic year, this is an extraordinary opportunity to complete their coursework in a foreign setting! Aside from completing the required coursework, participants are immersed in a new culture and language for the duration of the program- an invaluable experience for any young person.

Falcon Soedarsono, a recent graduate of the class of ’22, participated in this program last summer. “My friends and I were always joking about studying abroad but never ended up doing it because it is a bit harder for us [engineering students] to find transferrable credits. The summer lab is a great opportunity to experience studying abroad while keeping yourself on track with graduation,” recalls Soedarsono. 

This past summer, CBE seniors traveled to Oviedo, Spain for five weeks and studied at the University of Oviedo. Throughout the duration of the course, the students worked in professional and industrial labs. They conducted research, presented their findings, and sought professional applications of chemical engineering by visiting companies like the Industrias Lácteas Asturinas (ILAS).

“The summer lab abroad program gives a more well-rounded experience, considering how we are not only learning about chemical engineering concepts, but we are also given the opportunity to see real world applications in industries,” Soedarsono recounts.

For most chemical engineering students, this opportunity makes the prospect of a summer lab less daunting. With the program restarting after a two-year break, it is the perfect opportunity for seniors in chemical and biological engineering to study abroad!

For underclassmen still years away from completing CBE 424, the idea itself provides motivation to power through organic chemistry, thermodynamics, and physics classes. For those considering this program, Soedarsono remarks that “it is a great opportunity to do the lab and experience a whole different culture all at once. And, if you are scared about how hard it’s going to be living in a different country, this is your opportunity to experience that with the help of others!”

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