Junior Zechariah Rice Selected for German Research Internship in Science and Engineering


MACON – Mercer University junior Zechariah Rice, a 2016 Goldwater Scholar, was recently selected for the German Academic Exchange Service's (DAAD) Research Internships in Science and Engineering (RISE) summer program.

“Zac has made it his mission to find a solution to energy poverty, one of the greatest problems of our generation. He intends to use his gifts to develop less expensive and more efficient forms of renewable energy so that eventually energy will be accessible and affordable in both developed and developing nations,” said Dr. David A. Davis, director of fellowships and scholarships and associate professor of English. “This internship is one more step on his path toward changing the world.”

Rice, from Newberry, Florida, is an electrical engineering and computer engineering double-major with minors in religion, physics and mathematics. He will spend the summer working at Technische Hochschule Ingolstadt on two projects related to photovoltaic cells. The primary project involves construction of a test-rig for solar thermal systems, while the secondary project comprises translation of a C++ computer model for solar thermal systems into a MATLAB model.

“God has continued to bless me, and I cannot express how grateful I am for that. I believe that I will learn a great deal from this experience and that it will significantly help me in pursuit of my goals, so I am very excited about the opportunity that it presents. This will also be my first opportunity to travel outside of the United States, and so I am elated about seeing Europe for the first time,” said Rice. “I would especially like to thank my family, my research adviser Dr. Makhin Thitsa, and Dr. David Davis, who first referred me to this internship.”

At Mercer, Rice works in the lab of Dr. Thitsa, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering in the School of Engineering, where he has derived the nonlinear feedback control law for controlling a passively Q-switched pulsed laser system.

He aspires to obtain a Ph.D. in electrical engineering with a focus in non-linear controls, and to conduct research and teach at the university level.

In addition to being a Stamps Scholar, Rice received a Presidential Scholarship, an Engineering Scholarship and an athletic scholarship to join the football team, from which he medically retired last spring. He was the first NCAA Division I football player to receive a Goldwater Scholarship and the University's first engineering student and second student-athlete to earn such recognition.

The RISE program was first offered in 2005 to undergraduate students in the U.S. and Canada in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics, earth sciences and engineering. In 2009, the program expanded to include students from the United Kingdom. Currently, around 300 scholarships are available each year.

Interns work with research groups at top research institutions across Germany for two to three months during the summer. They are matched with doctoral students whom they assist and who serve as their mentors. The internship includes a stipend to cover living expenses, and partner institutions provide housing assistance. For more information, visit www.daad.de/rise/en/.