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The Program of the German National Merit Foundation at
Bell Laboratories



What is Bell Labs ?

The first research director of Bell Telephone Laboratories, H. D. Arnold, made the following statement in 1925, the year it was founded:

Research is the effort of the mind to comprehend relationships which no one has previously known, and in its finest exemplification it is practical as well as theoretical, trending always toward worthwhile relationships, demanding common sense as well as uncommon ability. [S. Millman (Ed.), A History of Engineering and Science in the Bell System, Physical Sciences (1925-1980), Bell Telephone Laboratories, Inc., 1983]
This definition is the basis for an unprecedented chain of discoveries and inventions, the best known being the demonstration of the wave nature of the electron (Davisson and Germer, 1927), the transistor (Bardeen, Brattain, and Shockley 1947), the theory of disordered systems (Anderson, 1977), the discovery of the cosmic background radiation (Penzias and Wilson, 1978), and the discovery of the fractional Quantum Hall effect (Störmer, Laughlin, and Tsui, 1999). These are best known because the inventors have been honored with the Nobel Prize in physics. The breathtaking speed of discoveries and innovations has given Bell Labs the reputation of being the world's leading industrial laboratory.

Murray Hill accommodates the largest part of research at Bell Laboratories. Research is divided into three divisions: Physical Science and Engineering Division, Communications Sciences Division and Computing and Mathematical Sciences Division. Every division consists of several laboratories which are organized into departments (approximately 20 members each). Physical Science and Engineering used to be the largest division, but there have been many changes as mentioned above. Altogether, about 3000 people work at Murray Hill.

Today, Bell Labs is part of Lucent Technologies, a major high-tech company with a 30 billion dollar revenue (fiscal year 1998) and approx. 140,000 employees all over the world. Hopefully, at the time you are reading these words, Lucent stock is still rising, as the future funding of basic research at Bell Labs is expected to depend on this heavily!

Here is how Lucent Technologies Inc. defines its mission:

Lucent's mission is to provide customers with the world's best and most innovative communications systems, products, technologies and customer support. Powered by excellent people and technology, Lucent Technologies will strive to be a customer-driven, high-performance company that delivers superior, sustained shareholder value.
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Why might I want to do an internship at Bell Labs ?

This program of the Studienstiftung gives German students of physics, engineering (electrical engineering, materials science, ...), chemistry (e.g. polymer chemistry), computer sciences ("Informatik") and mathematics the unique opportunity to get access to a place where both world class basic research and world class applied research for a fast growing market meet.

You have the chance to work in a research project under the supervision of experienced scientists. You can meet very famous and highly skilled scientists which also may result in getting many new contacts for later job opportunities. You may use the internship just for getting a deep insight into the U.S. and how science is done there but you may also use it for working on your diploma thesis or even for doing some preliminary work on your Ph.D.

Note that for students in the U.S. it is one of the highest achievements to be accepted for an internship at Bell Labs. Usually, only the best from the most famous universities are accepted and even very famous scientists like Richard P. Feynman applied three times until they were accepted. Compared to that it is much easier to be accepted via the Studienstiftung program.

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How to apply for an internship at Bell Labs

  • For this program you can only apply if you are a scholar of the Studienstiftung.
  • The internship at Bell Labs should be for a period of at least 10 months.
  • Contact us present interns
  • .
  • Within the dates given in the program "Wissenschaft und Praxis" of the Studienstiftung, send an application to the Studienstiftung containing
    • a letter for the Studienstiftung where you explain in detail your present position in your studies, why you want to do an internship at Bell Labs and what positive effects this will have for you. (written in German)
    • a short curriculum vitae (written in English)
    • a presentation of yourself intended for people at Bell Labs including information about you, your studies, and your scientific interests (written in English and should not exceed 2 pages)
    • If you already know (from publications or conferences) which group at Bell Labs you would like to do research, include it in the letter to the Studienstiftung and mention it in the application for Bell Labs
    • two letters of recommendation (written in English), best written by two of your recent professors who know you from lectures or practical work this past year. Tell them that the letter of recommendation will be intended for an application to the U.S.
  • The Studienstiftung makes a decision on your application. If you are chosen, your paperwork will then be sent to the representative of the Studienstiftung at Bell Labs, who will route your application to researchers working in the fields in which you have an interest. Thus, it is necessary to specify your field of interest very precisely. It helps a lot if you can name people with whom you would like to work. To find out what kind of research is currently done at Bell Labs, you can search journals for Bell Labs people. In some journal search engines it is possible to enter affiliates, which would be 'Bell Laboratories'.
  • Within three months after applying you will be contacted by people from Bell Labs who are interested in you working in their group. You can discuss the details such as the duration, the date of your arrival and the project they are proposing to you. This will finally lead to your acceptance at Bell Labs.
  • For further information you may contact Marius Böger or Roland W. Freund

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How to get in touch with us

To get in touch with us and to obtain a password to get access to the restricted areas restricted send an e-mail to hein@acm.org eMail.

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