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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 17

  Preparation for an engineering
career in Norway is similiar to that
experienced in the U.S.. Most NTH
students begin in the "gymnas", an
academically orientated high school.
These students concentrate on calculus
and scientific courses. Upon admission
to college, chemistry and chemical en-
gineering majors are both placed in
the Chemistry department. These stu-
dents attend the same classes during
the first two years, usually in lecture
halls of 100 to 200 students. Two-thirds
of weekly homework must be approved
before students may take the end of
semester exams, which count as the
entire grade. In the third year of NTH
study, the Chemistry department sub-
divides and students follow curricu-
la in one of eight areas, one of them
being Chemical Engineering. For his
'81-'82 year at NTH, Eric was placed
within a group of approximately thirty
Chemical Engineering students. By
the fourth year, these subgroups divide
again into each student's special area
of interest.
  The NTH education encourages stu-
dents to gain "hands on" work experi-
ence during their summer vacations.
The goal is to get the students as far
away as possible from classrooms and
"Norwegians seem more in-
terested in world politics
than the average Amer-
calculators. "Hands on" took its literal
meaning, for Eric was employed as a
sampling technician by GECO, the
Geophysical Company of Norway. This
Norwegian-based company ranks a-
mong the top three international firms
dealing with marine seismic explora-
tion. At GECO, Eric did "just about
anything you can think of to do to a 50
to 60 foot core sample, except analyze
it." He wrote home in June 1982 that he
was "taking samples, sawing them up,
putting them in and taking them out of
the deep freeze--there's something
funny about putting rocks in a freezer."
The samples themselves contained
some surprises. "One time I saw a fossil
of a nautilus type creature in some
shale from four kilometers down," Eric
  During his summer with GECO,
Eric continued traveling during the
weekends and had several memorable
experiences. One vivid memory was an
excursion to "Preikestolen" (pulpit
rock) in Lysefjord. "I was riding on my
Beautiful mountain scenery can be found in many places among the fiords
of Norway's coast.
extremely heavy bike on a mountain
road when I slid on some gravel in a
hair-pin turn. Luckily I was caught by
a guard rail or I would have been even
more uncomfortable on the rocky river-
bed down the cliff. Still, I lost a reason-
able amount of blood before a farmer's
wife bandaged me up and I rode ten
miles to the ferry," Eric said.
  Right after his episode, Eric limped
to the wedding of relatives in Vinje,
and was able to witness the famous
Telemark valley traditional ceremony.
While there, he had learned the dialect
of the Vinje valley, which he used now
as his everyday speech. "Because of
my Vinje dialect, no one knows I'm
American until I tell them. That can be
quite fun," Eric said.
  Still attending NTH in Trondheim,
Eric continues to enjoy Norway's spec-
tacular scenery. "NTH students are
very outdoor oriented. Just west of
the city about half an hour uphill by
bike is a fantastic recreation area with
lakes and small mountains," Eric said.
Students use the area for X-Country
and downhill skiing, jumping, and hik-
ing. "There is something very exciting
about X-Country skiing in Norway. X-
Country means across, down, and up
mountains," Eric explained.
  A Trondheim organization called the
  Studentsamskipnaden owns cabins in
the mountains south of Tronheim and
loans the keys for students to use in
hiking and skiing trips. Eric goes on
outdoor trips with Trondheim's Kris-
telige Studentlag, a Christian student
group of which he is a member. One
hiking trip with this group took him up
the steep cliffs of Blahoa. "The climb
up was made more exciting by loose
rocks and gusty wind. It was impossi-
ble to go down after we'd reached a
certain point--after only five minutes
of climbing, we had to go up," Eric
  Eric joined a 100 member folk-
dancing group which meets once a
week. On Friday and Saturday nights,
dancing is held at the NTH "union",
with folk dancing on the top floor, jazz
on another, .and rock and disco in the
basement. Debates are also held on
weekends, where political issues are
discussed. "Norwegians seem more in-
terested in world politics and interna-
tional relations than the average Ameri-
can," Eric remarked.
  Living in Norway has created no
problems for Eric. "I try to live on as
few kroner as possible, so I can save my
money for trips to the mountains," he
said. School, though, is his major prior-
ity until he graduates to work "hope-
fully in a pollution-control or energy
research position."
  Eric encourages others to sample
international life, either for a year or a
summer. Those UW-Madison engineer-
ing students interested should contact
Merton Barry of the International En-
gineering Programs office.       El
Wisconsin Engineer, February 1983

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