Honors Student Completes Competitive International Fellowship

Roman Dowling
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Roman Dowling

Honors German and engineering student Roman Dowling recently completed a highly competitive international fellowship with Research Internships in Science and Engineering Germany, or RISE.

Once accepted into the program, students are matched with German host universities and institutes that align with their technical interests. Dowling became a computational multiphase flow research intern at the Technical University of Darmstadt. 

The University of Arkansas has a rich history with RISE and has been a part of the program since it launched in 2005. The U of A was even represented in the first cohort of students accepted into the program. 

"The RISE program is extremely competitive and open to undergraduates in all of North America and Great Britain,” said Kathleen Condray, professor of German. “The U of A had a student in the initial pilot of the DAAD program, RiCH (Research in Chemistry), and Roman's achievements continue the U of A's long history of excellence with this international science exchange."

The program is incredibly competitive, maintaining a 1:6 acceptance ratio. In 2023, there were 1,697 applicants and 285 students awarded the fellowship.

For Dowling, the experience reinforced his desire to continue his education in engineering. 

“I enjoyed working in engineering and encountering and applying the concepts from my studies,” he shared. “The internship taught me how research is done in that field, which has reinforced my desire to go to grad school.” 

While at TU Darmstadt, Dowling had the opportunity to use and learn OpenFoam, an open-source software used most prominently in computational fluid dynamics (CFD). Dowling learned the software and used it to simulate and analyze specific benchmark cases in multiphase flow. This process assessed the performance, accuracy and capabilities of OpenFoam for the simulation of multiphase phenomena against cases with empirical solutions or solutions found using other CFD methods. 

He conducted this numerical study of multiphase problems using load-balancing and adaptive mesh refinement techniques and was able to learn to leverage a HPC (high performance computing) cluster, a grouping of powerful and specialized computers designed to handle massive amounts of data at high speeds.

“I enjoy the creative aspect of design, whether mechanical systems or software,” Dowling said. “In this case, problems that had been solved empirically with older methods were used as a benchmark. I would set the problems up in OpenFoam and use new methods on them–it was a good test to see how the solution was performing.” 

In addition to learning more about the practical application of engineering, Dowling found that his proficiency in German expanded exponentially with immersion in the country. 

“My language improved so much,” Dowling shared. “I’d say at least 50 percent of the command of [German] I have is from being immersed.” 

When he wasn’t working in the doctoral lab, he was making the most of the opportunity by traveling in Germany and other countries across Europe.

“It was interesting to see Berlin–you read so much about it, but it’s different to see it,” Dowling said. “I think there’s an argument that Germany is one of the most historically significant areas in the last few centuries.” 

As Dowling enters his final year at the U of A, he’s preparing to apply to graduate school and completing his honors thesis on software development for microcontrollers using CubeSats, or miniature satellites.

“I'd like to study robotics in graduate school because I'm interested in combining mechanical and software engineering,” Dowling said. “In my internship, I enjoyed applying the software tools to a mechanical engineering area like fluids.” 

About the Honors College: The University of Arkansas Honors College was established in 2002 and brings together high-achieving undergraduate students and the university’s top professors to share transformative learning experiences. Each year the Honors College awards up to 90 freshman fellowships that provide $80,000 over four years, and more than $1 million in undergraduate research and study abroad grants. The Honors College is nationally recognized for the high caliber of students it admits and graduates. Honors students enjoy small, in-depth classes, and programs are offered in all disciplines, tailored to students’ academic interests, with interdisciplinary collaborations encouraged. All Honors College graduates have engaged in mentored research.

About the University of Arkansas: As Arkansas' flagship institution, the U of A provides an internationally competitive education in more than 200 academic programs. Founded in 1871, the U of A contributes more than $2.2 billion to Arkansas’ economy through the teaching of new knowledge and skills, entrepreneurship and job development, discovery through research and creative activity while also providing training for professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the U of A among the few U.S. colleges and universities with the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the U of A among the top public universities in the nation. See how the U of A works to build a better world at Arkansas Research and Economic Development News.

Contacts

Shelby Gill, director of communications
Honors College
479-575-2024, segill@uark.edu

Kathleen Condray, professor of German
Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences
479-575-5938, condray@uark.edu

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