Summer Abroad Iceland - Instructor

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Thermodynamics in the Land of Fire and Ice

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Paul Erickson

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Professor Erickson is a specialist in Thermal Science and is keenly interested in stationary and transportation energy and engine systems. He has been a faculty member of the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at UC Davis since 2002. Professor Erickson is enthusiastic about teaching students both the fundamentals and detailed design traits of power engineering applications. He has been an advisor for renewable energy programs for governments and industry in the US and throughout the world. 

Professor Erickson first came to Iceland to teach graduate students in a summer intensive program in 2009 and fell in love with both the people and the unique surroundings. He has returned to Iceland several times since and is excited to bring UC students to this amazing and beautiful land. As an outdoor enthusiast, he is awed by Iceland’s beautiful natural wonders. He is thrilled to share this unique experience in both learning about and experiencing Iceland’s natural and engineered wonders.

A Message to Students and Parents

With clean water, clean air, and surreally beautiful landscapes, Iceland is one of my favorite places to visit. I first came to Iceland in the late summer of 2009 as I was invited to teach a graduate course on engine systems and renewable energy at the University at Akureyri in Northern Iceland. While visiting Iceland I became acutely aware of how using thermodynamics (power, transportation, and especially heating and cooling systems) has allowed modern society to flourish in an otherwise harsh Arctic climate. I immediately fell in love with the people and the beautiful natural surroundings. In subsequent visits I thought of how I might share this experience with my students studying thermodynamics and subsequently decided to organize this summer abroad program to directly involve UC students in this amazing location. I can confidently say that the learning experience in thermodynamics is greatly enhanced by experiencing this unique land and seeing how renewable power can work in the modern world. I hope that through your experience in this program you become more fully aware of how thermodynamic science and engineering in general can impact society for the better.

What Students are Saying

  • "Overall fantastic program! This goes for the amount of field trips we went on in the course of one month, and the educational impacts that will be with me for a very long time. I highly recommend continuing this program. I feel so fortunate to have experienced all this with such a great professor, great classmates and awesome country.”
  • "Professor Erickson was great! He was funny, patient, and did his best to make sure students were understanding. Even if one person didn't understand, he would go over the problem again and walk them through it. It's tough teaching all of this material in 4 weeks, but he was able to do it."
  • “One of the best professors I have had. He is an effective teacher in that he can teach material in a condensed fashion.”
  • "Professor Erickson was a very good instructor. He explained things well and brought in real world examples… and was friendly and cordial. He also answered questions well and challenged the class to do our best."
  • "Awesome guy, awesome professor. He was very clear with what he expected, and is clearly passionate about thermodynamics."
  • "The instructor was capable of teaching this advanced material in a compressed schedule while also making it enjoyable."