Beyond the Classroom: Mechanical Student Kyle Korby Recounts an Adventurous Year Abroad

Korby at Iguazu Falls

Progressing quickly from "hola" to "yo hablo español", Kyle Korby, a senior mechanical engineering student, recently returned from an adventurous year abroad in Argentina, where he not only learned the Spanish language, but how he wanted to apply his degree on a global scale.

Korby, a Fort Collins native, has always wanted to travel, and chose to spend his junior year in Buenos Aires at the Universidad de Belgrano. With little Spanish background, Korby arrived in Argentina a month early for intensive language courses, taking classes five hours each day, five days a week. In addition to Spanish language courses, Korby attended classes on Argentina's history and culture, and with careful planning, used his study abroad experience to fulfill his university core curriculum requirements.

"You have to really consider study abroad when you come in as a freshman," says Korby. "You have to plan ahead, but you can do it as an engineer."

Having never been out of the U.S., Korby chose to travel initially with Cultural Experiences Abroad (CEA), a study abroad program that provided a sense of security in a foreign country. In addition to aiding him in registering for classes, acquiring a visa and transferring credits, CEA made housing arrangements for Korby in a residencia, or hostel-like flat. However, after successfully developing Spanish language skills in his first six months abroad, Korby chose to study abroad independently his second semester, registering for courses with other Argentineans, and even renting his own place. As an integrated student, Korby had the opportunity to also take an engineering course at the university, mechanical systems hydraulics, which was taught in Spanish.

"The first month is very challenging because you notice things you never noticed before, like missing peanut butter, or ranch dressing. You realize you take communication for granted, and have to work hard to have a simple conversation," remembered Korby.

Korby's year abroad, however, was not all studying. Over the course of stay, Korby circled South America, traveling to the Mar del Plata, Iguazu Falls, and Patagonia where he went fly-fishing and hiking in the Andes Mountains. Korby also visited Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Montevideo, Uruguay and several other countries south of the Equator.

Parque Los Alerces in Patagonia, Argentina
Tombs in Cementario Recoleta in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Drinking agua di coco in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Now deep into his final year and senior design course, Korby is hard at work developing a concept cookstove at the Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory, under project advisers Professor Bryan Willson and Morgan DeFoort. Inspired by his international experiences, Korby chose the cookstove project because of its humanitarian and global applications. One of the leading causes of death, indoor air pollution affects women and children in developing nations worldwide. The biggest cause of indoor air pollution is wood burning cookstoves. Korby and team are working to develop a cookstove, which will not only provide clean exhaust, but also generate electricity from waste heat and use the power to purify water and provide communications.

As May approaches, Korby has begun to think ahead to graduation and his future. During his time spent in Argentina, Korby defined his engineering and career goals, deciding how he wanted to use his mechanical degree. Armed with a new world-view and Spanish skills, Korby would like to combine engineering with an international lifestyle, possibly working in Argentina in a humanitarian facet.

"Now I have a more worldly view. I notice the differences in what people desire on a global scale, and can implement that knowledge into my product design in the future," said Korby. "It was an experience of a lifetime. I wish I could do it again. It has helped me in every aspect of my life."

Sao Paulo Cathedral in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Additional Information

For more information on study abroad programs visit CSU's Office of International Programs at

For more information on the mechanical senior design program please visit

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