Internship Reports

By: Lucas Van Meer-Mass

Internship Title:
Research Assistant

Faculty of Spatial Planning, Urban Design Unit. Dortmund Technical University

Layers of a Region: Annotated mapping of the spatial and structural organization of the Ruhr Valley.

Six weeks

As a research assistant I was responsible for assembling a map of the structural organization of a portion of the Ruhr Valley region. This involved extensive on-theground examination of building types and development patterns, the development of a Ruhr-specific typology of structures, and the entry of all this information into a mapping program. I was also responsible for developing graphic representations of different building types. My work will be included in an upcoming book being published by the Dortmund Techinical University’s Faculty of Spatial Planning and several other educational institutions. I reported to and worked closely with Jan Polivka, an assistant professor in the department of Urban and Regional Planning.

Assessment of Experience:
My experience as an intern and as a visitor to the Ruhr Valley was very positive. Conducting this research gave me the opportunity both to develop a more in depth understanding of the spatial and structural organization of cities, and to become closely familiar with the Ruhr valley. I also valued the opportunity to work with new mapping and imaging software. I anticipate being able to apply these skills directly to urban design work I am currently doing the University of Toronto. These skills will also assist me when I enter the job market next year. While I did not find the work particularly challenging, I still very much valued the opportunity it provided to get to know a little known part of Germany. The faculty, in particular Jan Polivka, were very welcoming. I maintained contact with the other students who had pursued a DAAD internship and took the opportunity to travel extensively throughout Germany on the weekends. By learning about the Ruhr Valley through the study tour portion, applying this knowledge and my previous experience during my internship, and by travelling throughout the
country, I feel I obtained a strong and holistic understanding and appreciation of not just German urban issues, but of German culture and society. Given that I had not paid a great deal of personal or academic attention to Germany prior to this trip, I feel that this is a testament to the success of the DAAD’s program. I hope to return to Germany in the future and until then, will be keeping an active interest in German urban issues.

Suggestions for Improvements:
Information about the opportunity for pursuing Germany language studies should be offered for students who are not already familiar with the language. Some opportunities did exist, but these did not necessarily coincide with the internship or were not of the appropriate level or format. 

The location of my internship was ideal given my interests and language abilities. Had I been able to speak German, I would have enjoyed working outside of an academic setting so as to be able to apply my training and the knowledge gained through the study tour to a foreign working environment.