With UROP in New York – our former student assistant Tim is currently working on his bachelor’s degree at Colombia University


Tim Eschert (22 years) is studying mechanical engineering specializing in production technology in the eighth semester at RWTH Aachen and worked for the Cluster of Excellence “Integrative Production Technology for High-Wage Countries” as a student assistant for more than two years. After his internship at KUKA Roboter in Augsburg a few weeks ago Tim now participates in the UROP program of RWTH Aachen to write his bachelor thesis at Columbia University in New York. 

  Tim © privat

What does your work look like?

“I am here at the Internet Real-Time Lab at the Department of Computer Science. The Department is part of the Engineering School of Columbia University. It’s my goal to write my bachelor thesis here. That sounds like a lot of computer science – and it is actually. During my internship at KUKA I had to do with network technology for the first time in more detail and I was just interested in these kinds of things. The aim of my bachelor thesis is to develop a mobile robot with a camera, which provides the user with a video stream of a selectable location on a map.”

What does a regular day in your life look like?

“A “regular” day starts here around 10:00 in the Lab. That sounds very late, but was especially at the beginning very good: New York is huge. Before I moved it took me one hour to get to work by subway – if everything went well. Unfortunately, the New York subway is not the most reliable means of transport. In Lab I usually work at different tasks at the same time. That ranges from literature research about programming work to the assembly of parts of the robot. Also, I am allowed to participate at so-called Summer Classes, which means that I attend lectures besides. For lunch I often have sandwiches, which is the standard food here. Then I am in the Lab till 19:00.” 

Why of all things New York? How long are you staying and do you get any support from the universities?

“I primarily went to New York to experience this city – and the decision was just right for me. But also the difference between Columbia University and RWTH Aachen couldn’t be any stronger. It is apparent when you see historical buildings like Pulitzer Hall or Butler Library and statues like the Alma Mater. However, the student population is quite different, too. Humanities and social sciences are much more represented than in Aachen and due to the age of the university there are many more traditions and customs.
Overall, I am here for half a year. The rent in New York needs some time getting used to. It’s in no way comparable with Germany. The Columbia required proof of 2.800 USD per month, which must always be available. This can be anything, from scholarships to savings. I don’t need so much money – but anyway, life here isn’t easy to afford. I am supported by the RWTH through the UROP Abroad scholarship and I also get another scholarship. Moreover, the RWTH International Office answers any questions you may have."

  Tim © privat

What do you expect from your stay – what expectations do you have for your personal and professional future and does the UROP project help achieving those?

“Of course, I hope to finish my bachelor thesis in New York – and to have many new experiences, too. My first month here was great and I hope that will continue. I want to stay at RWTH Aachen for my master’s degree. I would very much like to come back to the Columbia one day or to attend a similar university, maybe for one year abroad during my master. I can’t say what comes next – there are too many exciting options.”

What is your interim conclusion? How is it going so far? Are you feeling well? Would you recommend UROP to other students?

“I like being here a lot – even though I know that New York isn’t the city I can imagine myself living in forever. Sometimes it already bothers me that it’s never quiet: air conditioners hum in buildings, musicians are in the parks and in the streets and sirens can be heard in the background all the time. Nevertheless, I would definitely come back any time. The city is home to an overwhelming range of events. It’s impossible to experience everything there is to experience. That’s why I really want to recommend New York in particular and UROP in general to all students. As a German student, I feel very welcome. You quickly gain a lot of new friends who come from all over the world. The organization of my stay was much easier and less bureaucratic than I had feared – also because the support of both International Offices (RWTH Aachen and Columbia University) was great. For me it’s a great chance to stay half a year abroad and to receive support from all sides, financially as well as ideally.”