Energy Abroad – How I Spent My Summer

International Research

Four students who traveled abroad last summer to work on energy-related projects shared their experiences with other students during a panel presentation on February 5. Susan Soisson, a representative of ND International, was also present to answer questions about international travel and related services available through the University.


Brady McLaughlin and John Salvadore spoke about the research they did in conjunction with Notre Dame laboratories. McLaughlin worked in Uganda, studying electricity needs of hospitals as part of Dr. Abigail Mechtenberg’s Energy and Sustainable Development with Design (ESDD) lab. He found that working directly with Ugandans provided an excellent cultural experience, above and beyond the engineering that he learned. Salvadore spent the summer in Portugal as a research assistant with the ND Environmental Fluid Dynamics group under the direction of Dr. Harindra Fernando. He was able to use his research toward his Energy Studies Minor capstone credit.


Cristian Lagunas traveled to Nicaragua as a volunteer with Green Empowerment. His time involved working with a local company to install solar panels, in addition to teaching others how to install and maintain them. He also worked on clean water projects. Donald Reed participated in an educational experience in Iceland through the Green Program. In addition to learning about Iceland’s renewable energy systems, he worked on a capstone project with students from around the world. He is now the campus representative for the program.


Each presenter emphasized the need to spend time networking and looking for funding. McLaughlin and Salvadore both benefitted from ND Energy’s Slatt Fellowship Program, which provides money for students researching energy with an affiliated faculty member. They would be happy to answer questions about their experiences, or contact Anne Berges Pillai,, at ND Energy.


This panel was part of ND Energy’s on-going series, “What’s It Really Like,” designed to help students with a passion for energy learn about various pathways from people who have experienced them. 


ND Energy is a University Research Center whose mission is to build a better world by creating new energy technologies and systems and educating individuals to help solve the most critical energy challenges facing our world today. For more information, visit the ND Energy website at or contact Barbara Villarosa, Business and Communications Program Director, at or 574-631-4776.