Marshall Exchange Program Focuses on STEM

Students interested in engineering and technology are getting a glimpse of those careers from some of the world’s best.

Five Loudoun County students traveled to the Zollner Electronik AG plant in Zandt, Germany, earlier this summer to get a taste of careers in the tech industry. Their trip was part of the George C. Marshall International Center’s 2016 Marshalling-STEM pilot program. This week, Zollner student interns and trainees are in Loudoun County to stay with host families and have a similar internship experience at Sterling-based electronics manufacturer EIT.

The career exploration experience was made possible through scholarships provided by a leader in Loudoun’s technology industry who prefers to remain anonymous. The scholarships were awarded to Katie Breza (University of Virginia); Vincent Cline (Tuscarora High School); Quinn Eisenhower (Broad Run High School); Royce Lindengren (University of Virginia); and Daniel Mares (former University of Virginia engineering student). The M-STEM pilot program, now in its second year, originated from a partnership between the George C. Marshall International Center, EIT and Zollner Electronik AG in Germany.

Similar to the Marshall center’s Student Partnership Exchange Programs, the M-STEM program includes home stays and visits to cultural sites, but provides hands-on training experiences in a manufacturing plant.

Commenting on her M-STEM experience, Breza said, “It is so cool to go to Zollner and see what I could be doing in the future.”

During their two-week visit to the Zollner headquarters, the U.S. students learned skills such as soldering components to circuit boards to produce LED cubes and a miniature baby grand piano. They toured the plant, learned about the various tools in the electronics department and were introduced to the use of microscopy for examination of defects in printed circuit boards.

Zollner is the world’s 15th largest electronics manufacturing company. Its products are found in the machines that screen our luggage when we travel, some of our favorite cars like BMWs and Mercedes Benz, and in the airplanes manufactured by Boeing and other airline companies. The company is a customer of Sterling-based electronics manufacturer EIT.

The Marshall center is accepting applications for its SPEP exchange program to Germany this fall. Applications are due Sept. 15 and can be found at For more information, call 703-777-1301.

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