International Educational Experiences

Prof. Osswald is teaching not only in Madison, but is also giving short-term courses and seminars at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany for more than 20 years and the International Engineering Seminar organized by the Engineering Faculty of the Universidad Nacional de Colombia (National University of Colombia) since 2006.

In 2010 he was teaching his popular course Engineering Design with Polymers (418) together with Professor Juan Pablo Hernandez and Professor Alejandro Roldán (both Polymer Engineering Center Alumnis) in Letitia, Colombia.

Ethic and historical implications about the polymer industry development are part of the introduction of this course. The course begins with an historical perspective of the rubber from its exploitation at the Amazonas jungle until its synthetic production in Auschwitz. The course continues presenting the fundamental principles that must be considered for the design of plastic products. Such principles have their root on the molecular structure and the polymer morphology. This course philosophy is based on the 5 P's: Polymer, Processing, Product, Performance and Post-consumer life. This principle establishes that the product performance can't be detached from the material it is made of (polymer) and the manufacturing process used to produce it (processing). At the same time, during the design process, the post-consume life of the product must be taken into account. The polymer and its molecular structure are the basis of the rheological and mechanical behavior from the material, during the process and longevity of the product. Then the time factor become important in different properties as viscoelasticity, tensile stress relaxation and solids flow (creep). During the course different examples of the polymer physics will be presented. This course makes an introduction over all these concepts and creates a basis for all student and engineer interested in a deeper study of the polymer science and plastic products design.

The course also includes a one-day ecological tour around the area during the group have the chance to get to know different indigenes communities and appreciate unique species from the Amazon region.

A group of 13 students from the US (10 UW-Madison students and 3 Winona-State University) participated on this cross-cultural and academic opportunity. The following are some of the testimonies collected:

"My experience in Leticia and Bogotá was one of the highlights of my college career. I was given the opportunity to take a class in a unique place, improve my Spanish, make new friends, and try many new things. I would highly recommend this course to all engineers, particularly those interested in polymers."

Tyler Spriggs

"The 1-week course in the Amazonas presents a compact form of essential knowledge in the field of Polymer Engineering. The technical information about designing with polymers by insights into the history of plastics, new technologies and applications in polymer engineering as well as a great lecture on the ethic questions an engineer has to face. Particularly these topics are a welcome interruption of the classes, not only because of the enthusiastic presenting skills of Professor Tim Osswald, but also because they address all of us and provokes reflection. However, in my opinion most important of all is the intercultural experience of Colombian and American as well as German students in a fabulous surrounding. The University and its condos for students is located in the middle of the jungle. The evenings together with the professors as well as the trip on the Amazonas river are unforgettable. Over all you can experience informative lectures, great nature, great and especially exotic food, great new friendships between the cultures and a lot of fun."

Martin Launhardt

"The summer course in Leticia was one of the most educational courses that I have taken in my college carrier. The course in Leticia taught me the principles involved in design with polymers, but besides that it introduced me to engineers from all over the word. This allowed me to immerse myself into different cultures. This experience will allow me to better be prepared for the global market place. I would suggest this course, to any student who wishes to learn more about polymer design and the global market place. The professors were from all over the world, but were united by the common field of engineering. The course and extrusions during the trip were all set up in a professional and efficient manner, which allowed learning and enjoyment to be maximized."

Matt Kvalo

Internships and thesis

Prof. Osswald’s research group often has international students participating in research projects as interns. Some of them chose to write their undergraduate or master thesis while doing research in the Polymer Engineering Center. Former students in our group came from different universities and research institutes including:

  • IKV at the RWTH Aachen University
  • LKT at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg
  • ILK at the Dresden University of Technology
  • University of Stuttgart
  • Nacional de Colombia
  • Simón Bolívar
  • Winona State University


1. I am interested in becoming a visiting intern in Prof. Osswald's group. What do I have to do?

Please contact Professor Tim Osswald at: and copy William Aquite

2. How can I fund my stay?

The Polymer Engineering Center cannot sponsor visitor interns during their stay. Usually students opt to seek financial support from their university, local agencies or companies.

3. How do I get a visa?

Whether you come here to do an internship or write a thesis, you will need a B1 visa for visitors. You need to apply for the visa at an embassy in your country using an invitation letter that you will receive from us.

4. Do I need a special insurance while I am in the US?

Do I need a special insurance while I am in the US? As a visitor scholar, you will need to have an insurance policy during your stay. The University of Wisconsin-Madison only accepts certain foreign insurance policies. If you are not covered by any of these, you will have to enroll in "The UW-Madison Student Health Insurance Plan for International Scholars": SHIP.