As our cities change in the future, so will our transportation needs.
Three Penn students have been awarded the opportunity to help solve the transportation problems of the future at Audi AG’s headquarters in Ingolstadt, Germany. Engineering junior John Doyle, College junior Martina Merlo and College junior and Engineering master’s candidate Edward Wu were among the 12 U.S. students recently selected to take part in the Audi Future of Mobility Practicum this summer.
The six-week program will allow participating students to analyze transportation problems that are expected as urbanization continues. They will have the opportunity to propose novel ideas to transform how people get from one place to another.
“Urban traffic is a huge problem in mega cities. So we need to find ways to solve that problem and make life more efficient,” Merlo said.
Wu highlighted the need for major advancements in the transportation industry. The self-proclaimed car enthusiast said that the industry is “stuck in the past” as society continues to rely heavily on cars.
“I want to influence the transportation world in a manner that will propel us into the future of mobility,” he said. “There’s a need for innovation in the industry. We’re not going to be designing the physicality of a car, but rather the technology and protocol for how cars communicate with each other and their surroundings.”
Merlo echoed Wu in explaining the bigger picture, which was beyond just Audi and their automobiles.
“What is interesting is that it doesn’t just encompass making cars, but everything about mobility,” she said. “I’m looking forward to being able to put the skills that I’ve learned to the test in a real life situation. This is my first real opportunity to test my skills and knowledge.”
Doyle, Merlo and Wu were among several hundred students from across the nation who applied for the selective program. The application process included a portfolio, and Skype interviews with representatives from Audi in Ingolstadt.
Penn and the University of Texas at Austin had the most selected students, with three each. The three Penn students have backgrounds in very different fields of study, but all three are interested in the transportation industry.
Doyle is majoring in mechanical engineering and applied mathematics, while Merlo’s degree will be in visual studies. She has concentrations in art practice and technology and architecture practice and technology. Wu is majoring in philosophy, politics and economics, and working towards a master’s degree in integrated product design.
All three expressed their excitement to visit Germany for the first time this summer, and to work for a company that they all believe is an industry leader in smart technology. They are all eager to be working in a nation widely considered to be an automobile powerhouse. In addition to Audi, Germany is home to industry leaders like Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Porsche.
“I can’t wait to explore another culture and see what Germany has to offer, and how they innovate,” Doyle said. “I’m excited to be a part of Audi’s plans for the future and I’m looking forward to learning as much as possible.”
While all 12 selected students will have an exclusive opportunity this summer, two of them will leave the program with the grand prize. The two participants whose ideas stand out the most will be offered a six-month internship with the Audi Technical Development team in Ingolstadt after they graduate in 2015. Competing for the opportunity will make this summer even more exciting for Doyle, Merlo and Wu.
“Penn’s going to have a great showing at Audi this summer,” Wu said. “I can only hope that one or both of the winners will come from Penn.”
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