By Brooke Fisher
January 16, 2019
For nine months, UW CEE master’s student Jakob Sumearll is calling Sweden home. Although his travel and living expenses are fully funded, he’s not exactly on vacation.
Sumearll is a Valle Scholarship and Scandinavian Exchange Program scholar. Every year, a handful of students participate in the study abroad program, which is unique in that it covers tuition credit, health insurance, travel expenses and a living stipend. The program is open to students in Civil & Environmental Engineering and Built Environments.
Based in Gothenburg, Sweden, Sumearll is working with researchers in the Concrete Structures Division at Chalmers University through June 2019. He is working on the Gullspång project, which is investigating edge beams from the Gullspång Bridge, originally built in the early 1900s and demolished in 2016. The objective of the project is to assess the load-carrying capacity of the effect of corrosion in older reinforced concrete structures that contain smooth steel reinforcement. This building practice was historically common in Sweden.
Sumearll is helping to test the corroded segments under tension to determine the remaining bond capacity between the steel and the concrete, which may lead to a more accurate understanding of the remaining life span. The project has introduced Sumearll to the experimental side of research.
“This niche of concrete structures is new to me, so there is learning on that front,” Sumearll said. “But my experience at UW, in my opinion, has given me an incredible head start in terms of engineering mechanics and numerical analysis.”
The graduate school at Chalmers is diverse in nationalities. Although he doesn’t speak Swedish, Sumearll has found it quite easy to work within the department. Like most study abroad opportunities, the culture has offered additional learning opportunities. One highlight is “Fika,” which Swedes observe multiple times per day.
“It is a social gathering to step away from work, have coffee and cake, and just hang out,” Sumearll said.
When the program ends in June, Sumearll will return to Seattle to graduate. He plans to apply to structural engineering firms along the west coast.
“Perhaps the biggest ‘furthering’ that will come from this experience is the networking within my department. The Concrete Structures Division is quite international and we are also quite close,” Sumearll said. “This level of networking will most definitely benefit me in the future, regardless of my professional direction.”
As part of the program, students share blog posts about their experience. Visit https://depts.washington.edu/uwvalle. UW login required.
The application deadline for CEE students is February 1. Learn more.