The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Thompson to Study Abroad with Critical Language Scholarship

Undergraduate Patrick Thompson of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department has received a United States Department of State Critical Language Scholarship for the second year in a row. The two-time recipient will undertake his second, intensive, all-expenses-paid, eight-week, Chinese language program abroad this summer. He is already fluent in Mandarin Chinese. See scholarship website »

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program is a summer study abroad opportunity for American college and university students to learn languages essential to America’s engagement with the world.

The CLS Program is part of a U.S. government effort to expand dramatically the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. Students of diverse disciplines and majors are encouraged to apply. Participants are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship period and later apply their critical language skills in their future professional careers.

“After graduation,” says Thompson, “I aspire to work in the semiconductor industry in a career that requires frequent travel to Asia. Given that many of the world’s largest semiconductor manufacturers are based in China and Taiwan, I hope to help bridge the gap between American semiconductor design and Chinese manufacturing by acting as a technically competent liaison.”

Thompson adds that in an increasingly globalized economy, the ability to speak a foreign language is becoming very marketable skill.

Thompson, who is a Mathematics minor, has accumulated a rich background in electrical engineering. In addition to being a Dean’s List student, for example, he has two very productive internships under his belt.

During the summer of 2019, Thompson served a fulltime internship as an assistant project manager at JM Electrical of Lynnfield, Massachusetts. He assisted project managers with day-to-day tasks, including blueprint analysis, cost estimation, and document management, to ensure smooth project completion. He also facilitated the development of space within a new warehouse expansion.

During the spring semester of 2020, Thompson was a research and development intern at Dynavac in Hingham, Massachusetts. There he performed routine experimentation with thin film deposition using different materials on blank silicon wafers. He was also responsible for the maintenance and operation of cryogenic high-vacuum chambers, and he made regular use of profilometers and spectrometers in his experiments.

Thompson has also been involved in student chapters of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers at different universities since 2017 and is now a member of the UMass chapter, starting this year. In addition, he heavily participated in the Wentworth Robotics Club as head of programming before transferring to UMass. Just so he doesn’t have any spare time on his hands, he also serves in the South Deerfield Fire Department.

Each summer, CLS provides rigorous academic instruction in fifteen languages that are critical to America's national security and economic prosperity. CLS participants are citizen ambassadors, sharing American values and promoting American influence abroad.

As an official Alumni Ambassador of the program, Thompson is actively encouraging students in the UMass College of Engineering to apply.

According to Thompson, “The benefits of learning foreign languages are underrepresented in engineering. Programs such as CLS are working to increase the number of STEM students who speak foreign languages each year, and, through careful collaboration with the State Department, I am volunteering my time to contribute to this growth. I invite any students at UMass to reach out to me for information regarding CLS.” (May 2021)