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Reilly Dearth, a industrial engineering student at the Burnett Honors College, traveled to Brazil with other BHC students and faculty as part of the Brazil study abroad program. He says that his time on the trip allowed him to make connections with other students and staff members, experience a foreign culture, and see a global company at work first-hand.

Why did you choose to study abroad with the Brazil program?

I believe that it is important to be exposed to a variety of backgrounds and cultures in order to gain a broader perspective of the world we live in. This is beneficial not only on a personal level but also in one’s professional life as it allows you to connect with more people and work to create better solutions to any problem at hand. The Brazil study abroad program was a great way to experience how engineering work is done outside the U.S. and learn different ways to apply what I’ve been learning in school to the real world in my job after I graduate.

How did you hear about the Brazil program in the first place? How did you become involved with it?

I first heard about the Brazil study abroad opportunity during my time as a Team Leader in an Honors Symposium presentation, and from that first presentation, I knew I wanted to take the class. The class was initially meant for mechanical and aerospace engineering students, but I believed that the manufacturing topics covered in the course were applicable to industrial engineering students, too. To get approval for enrollment, I approached the instructor and faculty members for the course, Dr. Ali Gordon and Rodrigo Lenartowicz, and went through an interview process that ensured I was a good fit for the program and approved to join it as an I.E. student, as well.

What did you do while in Brazil for the program?

Our first destination was São Paulo, which is the most populous city in Brazil. There, we were able to explore the city and take in various aspects of Brazilian culture at various food and wares markets, parks, and the city’s Japanese district, which is the largest ethnic Japanese community outside of Japan.

After our time in São Paulo, we traveled to the city of Campinas for a day, where we met with Professor William Wolf and toured the Brazilian Synchrotron Light Laboratory, where we learned about the usage of linear particle accelerators and their usage in academic research. We were also given a tour of their new Sirius facility, which will be home to the most powerful particle accelerator in Brazil upon its completion.

Next, we traveled to São José dos Campos, where we were able to tour the production facilities of Embraer, Brazil’s largest airplane manufacturer and a leader in the aerospace industry. There, we were able to witness the process of how a commercial aircraft is built, from individual sheets of metal to the final product at the end. This same campus is also home to a high school that is sponsored by Embraer, and we were able to tour the school and meet Brazilian high school students. The final part of our trip was two days in Camburi, a small beach town, where we were able to hike up the nearby mountains to see a waterfall and soak up the sun on the beautiful beach.

What were the most memorable parts of your trip?

The most memorable part of the trip was easily the connections I made with the other students and faculty who joined us. During our travel time in the van, we were able to make jokes and get to know each other on such a deep level, even though most of us didn’t know each other before the start of the semester. All of our meals, including visits to incredible restaurants with breathtaking views of the ocean in Camburi, were filled with discussion about everything we were learning together on our trip, as well as tons of laughter.

How do you feel the experience has impacted your future career in industrial engineering?

I think this trip is a great way to experience not only a foreign culture, but also how engineering is practiced in other areas of the world. So many companies have a global presence, and it is important to know how to interact with people of different backgrounds and work with them on a professional level to advance forward. This trip was a great way to experience this firsthand and network with people outside of the UCF and Orlando areas.