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Engineering a seminar on the European Union and NATO

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March 9, 2015

By Mike Killeen

Dan Schmit wants to be an engineer for an international company someday. He’ll have to look at problems from all sides — from idea to design to production.

That’s why the 2014 graduate of Saint John’s University and Fulbright grantee was more than happy to attend a European Union (EU) and NATO Seminar Feb. 1-4 in Brussels.

The seminar, hosted by the Fulbright Commission in Belgium and Luxembourg, gave Schmit the opportunity to learn about the structure and function of European institutions and how these institutions affect their respective academic, professional and personal lives.

That was right up Schmit’s alley.

“This seminar would be valuable for me as an engineer who is looking to work in an international role,” Schmit wrote in his letter of motivation to attend the seminar.

“A better understanding of the EU would allow me to explore partnerships, sales and production opportunities in Europe with the company I am working for,” said Schmit, a native of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, who majored in physics and German at SJU.

Schmit is currently studying mechatronics — a design process that combines the engineering disciplines of electrical, mechanical, telecommunications, control and computer – through the end of June at Johannes Kepler University in Linz, Austria. He is also working as an English teaching assistant in the Kreuzschwestern Schule in Linz.

Schmit said he was particularly interested in a session on NATO’s current priorities as well as its relations with Russia and Ukraine.

“It was a highlight for me because it discussed NATO’s current priorities and its relations with Russia and Ukraine, as well as the interactions between the EU and NATO,” Schmit said in an email. “This was extremely interesting for me because these are current topics we read about in the news each day and it was a great opportunity to discuss these events with representatives from these organizations.”

The Fulbright grantees also had a reception with Anthony Gardner, the U.S. ambassador to the EU, and a briefing hosted by the U.S. Embassy in Luxembourg.

Schmit said the seminar will help him when working in international business and engineering settings.

“I think understanding these organizations, their functions and their interactions with each other will allow for smoother business transactions,” Schmit said.