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Better than travel: Cameron's work term in Germany

“When you study or work somewhere, you’re a part of it.”

Cameron Hastie has always been intrigued by Germany’s history and language. It was a place he thought he’d like to visit one day. With the help of UPEI’s International Relations Office and Physics Co-op program, he did even better. He lived there. He studied there. And he loved it. 

“I think there’s a misconception that travelling as a tourist is somehow better or more satisfying than working or studying abroad, because you don’t have to worry about attending class, or paying bills, or commuting to the office,” said Cameron. “But when you’re a tourist, you’re on the outside of the actual experience—the culture; the people. When you study or work there, you’re a part of it. You’re a part of people’s lives and you experience their culture with them.”

Cameron is a co-op student in UPEI’s Department of Physics. He’s been alternating academic semesters on campus with work terms. He can put his new-found knowledge to the test and come back with practical experience.

He went searching for an international opportunity, and discovered a chance to study abroad in Germany. “The placement didn’t have a work term attached to it, but I thought maybe I could find one while I’m there,” said Cameron.

Cameron spent the winter semester of 2017 studying at Hochschule Furtwangen University (HFU) on the edge of Germany’s Black Forest . He quickly made friends and began to pick up a bit of the language.

“I started with nothing, so I’m still far from fluent,” joked Cameron. “I can certainly order food and ask for directions. My introduction to German course was even transferable for credit at UPEI!”

He attended a business workshop at HFU and spotted his chance to find a work term. With help from UPEI’s co-op office and the Department of Physics, he was able to land a job at the lab of technology giant Bosch Sensortec.

Cameron quickly made an impression, working on the company’s latest inertial measurement unit (IMU). “We worked on sensors that measure rotation and speed,” explained Cameron. “When you rotate your smartphone, it’s the IMU that adjusts the screen. The technology is used by Samsung, Apple, and in virtual reality headsets and drones.”

As a result of Cameron’s work term, Bosch Sensortec has expanded its co-op relationship with UPEI, and has initiated new research co-operation, providing even more exciting opportunities for students. Work terms are now available for students in Physics and Mathematical and Computational Sciences.  

It’s an opportunity Cameron is glad he jumped at. He’d recommend studying and working abroad to anyone. “You immerse yourself in it. You’re on the inside. It was an amazing experience.”

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