This report is the result of a six-month evaluation conducted by the Institute of International Education (IIE) on behalf of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) for its Research Internships in Science and Engineering (RISE) program. The program provides funding and placement support to Canadian and U.S. science and engineering undergraduates for summer internship and research opportunities in German higher education institutions.
The purpose of the comprehensive evaluation was to assess recent and longer-term impacts of the program on its participants. The evaluation required a multi-phase approach that involved a series of individual surveys targeted at each cohort between 2004 and 2008. For RISE, the scope of the evaluation included pre- and post-assessment surveys of U.S. and Canadian undergraduates (interns) and German Ph.D students (mentors) who participated in the program during the summer of 2008. In order to gauge longer-term impacts of RISE, a separate survey was also administered among alumni interns of the program who participated in previous cohorts dating back to the inception of the program in 2004.
The second portion of the evaluation assessed RISE Pro, a relatively newer program that is modeled after RISE but that focuses on providing career-building experience by placing recent graduates, Masters and Ph.D. students at a German company for the summer. The program recently completed its inaugural award cycle, and was included in this evaluation using similar methods and a post-assessment survey of interns participating in 2008. In consultation with the DAAD, the evaluators chose to assess a number of aspects related to these programs, including, among other areas:
- motivations for intern and mentor participation
- personal and professional impacts of the program
- impact on academic and career path in the science and engineering fields
- impact on intercultural and international research skill sets
- effectiveness of program administration and placement
Overall, the positive outcomes and impact of the program, which are described in detail throughout the full report that follows, serve as strong indicators of the RISE program’s success over the past four years. As it has grown in size, the program has been able to provide valuable research experience and opportunities to enhance personal and professional skills and competencies for an increasing number of North American undergraduates, while also enhancing their intercultural skills in an international research setting.