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Wengler, John (ed.) / Wisconsin engineer
Volume 87, No. 3 (February, 1983)

Christenson, Solveig
Norway captivates chem. e.,   pp. 16-17


Page 16


Norway Captivates Chem. E.
by Solveig Christenson
  Ha ringi tr(ade(l Lake Men dota for a
Joncl!/fiord, Eric Ch ristenson has been
st(ldIin!J rem ic('al engineering in Nor-
wa!!i. kSolrieo Cli ristenson, Eric's sister,
h(r( pcresents the saga of his academic
(1n i(Ottral cxoi pere ns i . So l'eiig is a
('E'E sop/rnoni onc, w'ith a strong interest
iln 1111(t?)tOlO I.
   Eric Christenson has given his
 Chemical Engineering studies a strong
 Norwegian accent. Since May of 1981,
 Eric has lived, .worked, studied, and
 traveled in Norway; a long step from
 his sophormore year when he first
 walked into the UW's International
 Engineering Program's office in 1980.
 "I went to find out about working in
 Norway," Eric recalled. "But UW was
 trying to arrange a student exchange
 program with the Norges Tekniske
 Hogskole (NTH, translated the Nor-
 wegian Institute of Technology)," he
 continued. "So Ms. Bonnie Kienitz (the
 coordinator at the time) asked if I'd be
 interested in studying in Norway. I
 was, so she referred me to a visiting
 NTH professor named Olav Erga."
 Erga and Kienitz helped arrange an
 auditor status for Eric. Though for-
 mally enrolled as a UW student, Eric
 would attend classes at NTH, which is
 located in Trondheim, Norway.
   Before departing, Eric was intro-
duced to Aksel Lyderson, another visit-
ing NTH professor. The two discussed
Eric's plans for the next semester.
Lyderson suggested that Eric work in
Norway before studying there, and
was instrumental in landing him ajob.
"Aksel called the head of the engineer-
ing division of the Exxon oil refinery in
Tonsberg, Norway. and asked if he
wvouldn't mind employing a U.S. stu-
dent. So I had a job right away, which
was a good chance to practice speaking
Norwegian before classes began.
   Eric left the U.S. in May 1981 and
 briefly toured Luxemburg, Germany,
 and Scandinavia before starting work
 in Tonsberg. At Tonsberg, Eric
 worked within the "powerformer" sec-
 tion of the refinery which calculated
 the yields in the conversion of lower
 octane feed into high octane products.
   While working in Tonsberg, Eric
 immersed himself into Norwegian cul-
ture and language. Two years of study-
ing Norwegian in Madison acted as the
foundation for his growing vocabulary.
Norwegian, like German, has many
different dialects. Eric had learned
the most commonly taught dialect,
Bokmal, but found it wasn't spoken in
the countryside where Tonsberg is lo-
cated. Fortunately, Eric was able to
teach himself Nynorsk, the village's
dialect. During his summer; Eric went
"Although classes were
taught in Norwegian, Eric
experienced few difficul-
ties."
on biking, hiking, and photographing
excursions in the surrounding country.
That fall, he moved to Trondheim,
the third largest city in Norway and
home of NTH. Although his classes
were taught in Norwegian, Eric expe-
rienced few difficulties. "Still," he ad-
mitted, "it wasn't the easiest way to get
an education."
  The Norges Tekniske Hogskole, is
the only Norwegian school granting
higher degrees, similiar to the U.S.'s
masters and Ph.D. degrees. Consider-
ing that Norway is about the size of
Wisconsin, admission standards are
understandably rigid. Only applicants
with outstanding grades or exceptional
work experiences are accepted to the
student body of 5000 men and women.
"Often people go to one of the lower
degree engineering schools, which take
three years, and then are accepted to
NTH", Eric explained.
  Eric obtained permission to remain
as a bona fide student when his auditor
status expired in 1982. During the past
school year, he has studied courses in
Process Control, Thermodynamics,
Chemical Engineering Lab, Reactor
Design, Plant Design, Advanced Sta-
tistics, Process Dynamics, and Simula-
tion. All that remains between Eric
and a master's degree is one semester
of thesis work.
Daon o'arms the Norweglian mountains and this cozy camnpsite located
near Stavanger.
Wisconsin Engineer, February 1983


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