Auburn engineering junior receives German Academic Exchange Service Scholarship

Published: April 08, 2021

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Nathan Adkins of Fairhope, Alabama, is Auburn's newest recipient of the German Academic Exchange Service Scholarship, or DAAD Rise. A junior in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering majoring in aerospace engineering and minoring in computer science, Adkins will attend Furtwangen University in Tuttlingen, Germany this May.

The DAAD Rise Scholarship is Germany’s premier scholarship program and awards competitive merit-based grants for use toward study and/or research in Germany at any of the accredited German institutions of higher education. Annually, the program offers about 300 grants to undergraduate students from North America, Great Britain and Ireland.

While in Tuttlingen, Adkins will research ways to develop intelligent polymer materials with shape-memory functionality.

According to Adkins, shape memory polymers have the ability to deform into different geometries when stimulated by a thermal source, almost like self-folding origami. By producing these materials through an additive manufacturing process, Adkins plans to investigate different material parameters such as the final desired form, dependency on temperature changes and the reaction to thermal stimulants.

"I am extremely humbled to be selected as a DAAD Rise Scholarship recipient. The opportunity to travel abroad will allow me to expand my perspective of engineering and culture in Germany. By applying skills acquired throughout my past few years at Auburn, I am extremely excited to meet any challenge that comes my way,” said Adkins

Last year, Adkins was selected for the highly prestigious Astronaut Scholarship Class of 2020. Founded by the original Mercury 7 Astronauts, this scholarship has not only funded his next year of study but has allowed Adkins to network with some of the brightest minds in industry.

Adkins attributes the amazing faculty at Auburn University for his success. “Mr. Alex Sauer (Honors College) is an incredible addition to Auburn, he directed me to the DAAD scholarship and consistently helped with personal letters. Davide Guzzetti, the head of my current research project, wrote my rec letter for the scholarship and gave me the opportunity to work on a similar project, which is how I gained experience for my application. And finally,” Adkins added “Mike Fogle, head of Auburn University Small Satellite Program, who provided me with the initial steps to gain experience in the aerospace field, provided me with opportunities to travel to Utah State University to present AUSSP research and design to a multi-institutional expert panel.”

For more information on this award or other national prestigious scholarships, contact Alex Sauer, coordinator, scholarship and research for the Honors College at

Submitted by: Wade Berry