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Auburn University as new Industrial Design Partner

Reutlingen International Office funds MA Industrial Design Student Matthew Severin to attend the new Master Interdisciplinary Material Sciences.

A successful international cooperation. From left to right: Prof Dr. Martin Luccarelli (Industrial and Material Design, Reutlingen University), Matthew Severin (Master Student Industrial Design, Auburn University), and Prof. Baldur Veit (Head of Reutlingen International Office); Picture: Simone Löffler / Reutlingen University

Simone Löffler

Reutlingen University is increasingly pursuing an internationalization strategy. “Living internationality” is one of the most important goals for us. Our exchange philosophy involves partner universities from all over the world and works according to the principle of reciprocity: in exchange for Reutlingen students abroad, foreign young people join our university as well.

In October 2016, Shea Tillmann, associate professor for Industrial Design at Auburn University, came to Reutlingen to show the work of his industrial design students. Afterwards, Martin Luccarelli, full professor for Industrial and Material Design at Reutlingen University, visited Auburn to present the new Master Interdisciplinary Material Sciences. Thanks to the Reutlingen International Office (RIO), Matthew Severin, the first MA Industrial Design student from Auburn, has joined a team of three students to work on a Daimler-sponsored project at Reutlingen University throughout summer semester 2017.

We met with him and asked him four questions.

How did you get in touch with our Master program Interdisciplinary Material Sciences?
One of my professors in Auburn, Shea Tillmann, met Martin Luccarelli two or three years ago. A first step was made for a cooperation between Auburn University and Reutlingen University in the field of industrial design. After listening to Martins discussion in October 2016 in Auburn about interdisciplinary and product development as well as the master’s program in Reutlingen, I decided to pursue the program. For me the master program Interdisciplinary Material Sciences matches very well with my studies and thesis topic at school.

 Why did you choose Reutlingen for your study abroad semester?
Martin was a huge part of my decision. He and the Reutlingen International Office (RIO) supported me in organizing this study abroad semester. Normally it’s a big process to organize a study abroad and it takes more than 8 months to finalize and plan all the details of the program. I’ve chosen Reutlingen because Auburn University has nothing like this interdisciplinary program and because I believe strongly in experiencing other cultures. In a global economy the ability to learn and understand different cultures is paramount to conducting business and experiencing life.
I think for some people, the idea of experiencing another country, especially when you don’t speak the language, is terrifying. I for one enjoy being pushed out of my comfort zone and hope to learn a lot from my professors and colleagues as well as learning about myself. The roots of both sides of my family trace back to Germany. So this opportunity will allow me to better understand my family’s culture and past, while I learn a great deal about German culture.

 What do you expect from this experience?
A lot actually. It can be divided into two aspects: cultural and academic. Americans have a specific view of the rest of the world. Meeting new people, to understand their culture and to see the dynamic of things are some of my expectations.
My visit to Reutlingen is also for me to understand if I could see myself starting a new life here in Germany, and what I could expect if I choose that direction for my life in the future.
On the academic side it’s a new experience because in Auburn there is no program offering us the opportunity to work in such interdisciplinary teams. In our projects we work in teams of designers, and the relationship between us and the client is stretched out over the semester. The close relationship of cooperation within textiles, design, and engineering is so specific within the program and offers not only high levels of team interaction, but also new perspectives and knowledge.

 What are your future plans?
After finishing my study abroad semester in Germany I have two choices: to finish my master program and thesis in Industrial Design which will take one more semester or to go directly and search for a job (while finishing my master and thesis in parallel). Given the quality of work I expect from myself and the amount left to finish my thesis, I think returning to Auburn is the most logical next step.
After finishing, I plan to see what jobs are available and where. The idea of moving to Germany or Europe is appealing to me and something I could see myself doing.