Research Background Leads Student to Internship with Mercedes-Benz in Germany

Nicholas Broadbent at the Mercedes Benz world headquarters in Germany.
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Nicholas Broadbent at the Mercedes Benz world headquarters in Germany.

A mechanical engineering student's lifelong passion for automotive manufacturing led to a dream internship at Mercedes-Benz in Germany, thanks to his research experience and the International Engineering Program at the University of Arkansas.

Honors student Nicholas Broadbent is a senior double degree mechanical engineering and German student who plans to graduate in May. Broadbent studied engineering at TU Darmstadt in Darmstadt, Germany, in the fall of 2018 and worked at the Mercedes-Benz world headquarters in Stuttgart the following spring and summer.

He said he discovered the program as a first-year student.

"To earn experience alongside powertrain engineers at Mercedes-Benz in Stuttgart has always been a pipe dream of mine — something of a "best or nothing" mentality. Through the visionary work of Dr. [Bryan] Hill and Dr. [Kathleen] Condray in establishing the German IEP during my freshman year, I was given the opportunity to realize this dream," he said.

Broadbent said he was especially interested in the program as a means of becoming an engineer capable of making an impact on an international scale, working collaboratively with a diverse group of colleagues from around the world.

"I worked with colleagues from Venezuela, India, Turkey, South Korea, and, of course, Germany. Communicating outside this nuclear team required an effective use of the German language and cultural standards," he said. Broadbent studied German for three years at the University of Arkansas prior to his internship, ultimately completing the Goethe B1 professional certification, an internationally-recognized certificate of proficiency in the language.

The Mercedes-Benz internship gave Broadbent a look into several different areas of the company's "Powertrain Technology and Business Development" department, with projects in computational fluid dynamics, finite element analysis, mesh-free alternatives to finite element analysis (SPG/SPH), and computer-aided design and manufacturing.

Broadbent said his background as an undergraduate researcher in computational fluid dynamics and materials science at the University of Arkansas helped him make a profound impact on his team at Mercedes-Benz.

"Without the opportunities and guidance given to me by my academic and research mentors Dr. [Uche] Wejinya, Dr. [Ryan] Tian, Dr. [James] Leylek, and Dr. [Paul] Millett, I would not have been able to make such an immediate and lasting impact on my team, which was entirely comprised of doctoral and master's students engaged in related research," he said.

Broadbent plans to finish his undergraduate degree in May and hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering.

Broadbent has also spread his passion for automotive engineering to his fellow students — he took a leading role in re-founding the Society of Automotive Engineers chapter at the University of Arkansas and is working to establish Projekt Future, a program designed to engage students in research relevant to the automotive industry in order to give them an edge in achieving their own dreams.


Nick DeMoss, director of communications
College of Engineering


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