While interning for ReMaterials Modroof, Richard Colwell ’21, learned about sustainable applications for Materials Science and the critical skills of perseverance and adaptability.

Ideas to implementation

In the summer of 2019, Materials Science and Engineering major Richard Colwell ’21 completed an internship with ReMaterials ModRoof in Ahmedabad, India. Modroof is a modular roof designed for slums and village homes, schools, hospitals and other structures. The roofing panels are made from processed agricultural and packaging waste. Bringing a passion for sustainability as well as a knowledge of materials science to his internship, Colwell was involved in brainstorming ideas, fabricating and designing experimental setups, and synthesizing data in order to improve material properties, such as the degree of waterproofing and bending strength, in the processing of recycled materials.

“I would say that the biggest accomplishment during my internship was the fact that I was able to look at so many different types of questions and give many different recommendations that were actually implemented in the factory,” said Colwell of the experience. “It was clear that my supervisor valued the work that I was doing and was using my observations in order to consider what direction to take the product in.”

Interning in India

Colwell’s learning didn’t end at the conclusion of the workday, and India provided a challenging and exciting environment for personal development. “The biggest benefit of my MIT-India experience, in all honesty, was that it was difficult,” said Colwell. “I struggled to navigate many aspects of my time in India: from adapting to the oftentimes loud and busy atmosphere of Ahmedabad to attempting to communicate beyond the language barrier. Yet, as cliché as it sounds, I found that at the end of my summer I was much more resilient and able to work through challenges as they arose. I could not have experienced this same growth had I interned somewhere else.”

Colwell finishes his internship feeling excited about what he has learned and the new skills he can bring to future endeavors. “I know that my internship in India will help differentiate me from other candidates. I feel well prepared to discuss how my experience illustrates my ability to adapt and thrive in new environments.”

  • India
  • Internship
  • Materials