Translating the 21st century

Translating the 21st century

April 13, 2017
By Matt Windsor
Undergraduate Brandon Schoening is using language learning to help bring safety education to a U.S. company's international plants.

Brandon Schoening, a senior majoring in foreign languages and criminal forensics, speaks four languages. "From a very young age, I figured out that the best way to learn more is to be able to immerse and adapt," he says. Schoening, who is originally from Weston, Wisconsin, by way of Oxford, Alabama, has been able to put those language skills to the test across the globe, as part of a unique service learning experience with Birmingham-based McWane Industries. He will share that story as part of UAB's undergraduate research Expo on April 14.

Schoening first starting working with McWane on a data migration project at an Anniston location in 2013. That turned into a series of other opportunities at McWane locations in Anniston and Birmingham. In summer 2015, Schoening traveled with McWane engineers to Cambridge, England, to work on a computing project. (One highlight of that trip was the chance to see his favorite soccer team, Chelsea, play.) Impressed with his work, and knowing his language skills, McWane asked him to travel with another team to Santiago, Chile.

 mix schoening
Brandon Schoening
Majors: Foreign Languages, Criminal Forensics
Health and Safety Intern, McWane, Inc.
Member, Alpha Tau Omega fraternity
Hometown: Oxford, Alabama

"My role was as a full-time interpreter, translator and IT assistant," Schoening says. "I corresponded with the end users and did a lot of the physical work, while the more senior members of the team made the empirical, major decisions."

In addition to computing work and translation, Schoening helped develop safety audit questions for the Chilean site based on the nation's legislation, which he was assigned to research. "I love learning and traveling, so to do so in a way that not only benefitted my education, but also helped a company develop internationally, was an offer I couldn't refuse," he says.

Now, as an intern in the Environmental Health & Safety group at McWane's corporate headquarters in Birmingham, Schoening's duties include daily translation work in Spanish and French for McWane's websites in Chile, Canada and elsewhere. "I was blessed with a few opportunities and made the most out of them," he says.

Schoening aims to combine his education and experience to work in the criminal justice field, "hopefully abroad with Interpol or in the United States with an agency such as the FBI," he says.  

Research: The next generation

Brandon Schoening's project, "International Service Learning in Chile: Breaking Communication Barriers in Infrastructure Development," is one of several hundred UAB undergraduate student projects that will be presented at the 2017 UAB Spring Expo on April 14.

The event, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, showcases research, scholarship and other academic endeavors by UAB undergraduates on April 13 and 14. 

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