To GT-Lorraine...and Beyond!

25 years of academic excellence and adventure

Thinking in Two Tongues: Graduate Student Christian Caracci

Name: Christian Caracci

Major/Field of Study: Mechanical Engineering

Year in Grad School: 1st

Undergraduate Institution: Florida Atlantic University

Interests/Hobbies: Skeet, sailing, tennis

One piece of advice for students: “Don’t procrastinate!”

Baguette or Croissant? Baguette

(“I want sandwich for lunch today, ”a mix of Italian and English) – could be something that pops through graduate student Christian Caracci’s head. Don’t understand? I’ll translate it into two different languages 1) English – I want a sandwich for lunch today. 2) Italian – “akslfjlas.” A most interesting fact about our fellow GTL-er is that he thinks in two tongues. He was born in Italy, but has spent time there and in America growing up. It’s been a mix of both countries in his collegiate career as he attended Florida Atlantic University in the United States as an undergraduate and doing the dual degree program that Georgia Tech Lorraine has with Las Sapienzia – University of Rome.

After completing his dual degree program, he hopes to go into the workforce. Specifically, operational excellence on the manufacturing side as in engineering management. In his spare time, you could catch him doing any of the hobbies above, in addition to traveling or playing pool with his graduate school buddies in the GTL lounge.

A quick FYI, we have a pool table that’s behind these board separators in the GTL lounge! It was like finding treasure when Christian and his friends found it and has been incorporated into their daily schedules.

Good luck with your studies Christain, and best of luck in the future!

My Own Thanksgiving Break, Part 2: HackJunction

Photo courtesy of HackJunction.

Being the somewhat nerd I am, the second part of my thanksgiving break was spent in Helsinki, Finland, at a hackathon called HackJunction. Junction is Europe’s largest hackathon, and draws over 1200 programmers from around the world each year to participate. There were 52 countries represented at this year’s HackJunction, working on different tracks that ranged from Financial Technology to Internet of Things. There were expert programmers who have worked in industries for years that attended, as well as inexperienced newbies such as myself. All in all, it was an awesome experience where I could use some of the skills I’ve learned in the classroom and apply it to a project or challenge.

First, before anything, let’s talk about the venue. The venue was SICK. The sponsors rented out a place called Wanha Samata, which was this big warehouse with multiple rooms for the different tracks. The coolest part was the laser that stretched from one end to the other that you can see below:

HackJunction’s venue.

The venue also had a snack room that was constantly filled up with energy bars, energy drinks, coffee, etc.; basically, whatever you need to not sleep and keep coding throughout a night! There were also many companies that came to talk about what they do, give out freebies, and network. It was a great space where lots of innovative minds came together to do all things tech.

Since I was a relatively inexperienced programmer, I decided to tackle on some the mini challenges rather than the big tracks that some of the fellow GTL-ers I came with. One such was a music challenge, where there was a jumbled audio clip and we had to figure out the name of the song. At first, there was an inaudible voice that couldn’t be understood. So I threw the clip on Audacity and reversed it and came a clear message this time “Come tell us the name of the song, but it’s not as simple as you think.” That’s honestly about as far as I got as after that, I tried nearly everything: encoding the clip, decoding the clip, modifying the bitrate, tracking down messages in the source code, etc. but nothing really seemed to work. Another challenge I did was mess with some algorithms a local Helsinki tech company provided, which put my creative mind at work with varying success.

One team, made of Ryan and Maria, decided on the track “revolutionizing the bus stop”. Their project was PetStop, where each bus stop had an interactive screen with a puppy that the user can interact with. They can feed it, play with it, walk it, etc. I got to see them demo it and it was really cool!

Being at a hackathon such as this one just opened my eyes to a world of technology; I saw some amazing creations (a guitar hero type platform, but with a real guitar – Yousician Company) and things that I didn’t think I would need until I saw it (a smart, social, interactive coffee cup that was fueled by the thermal energy of the coffee – Paulig Muki Smartcup). Even if you’re not a programmer, I would recommend dropping by a hackathon if it ever comes up. There’s plenty of neat things to see!

The Dream Team!

P.S. You also get a free t-shirt.

Faculty & Building / Security Support Nicolas Jacquet

w17-p1-p1Name: Nicolas Jacquet

Position: Faculty & Building / Security Support

Years at GTL: 11th year

Interests/Hobbies: Car restoration, biking.

One line to describe GTL: “It’s a place of connectedness. We get to be in touch with any different people and different cultures here.”

Piece of advice for students: Taken advantage of what Metz has to offer and explore around. Even though he is from Metz, he still finds himself discovering new things every day!

Meet Nicolas Jacquet, the man with the position of Faculty & Building / Security Support. I like to call him “The Rock” because of the solid foundation of support he provides us as a community. When faculty from Atlanta first come over here, he is the primary point man in the transition, handling all the transfer paper work from Atlanta and helping the families settle in with housing and transportation in France. That’s just one side of his job; on the other half, he works closely with security and Francis Gangloff, our building maintenance supervisor. All the things he does keeps us safe and the building fresh and clean! He’s a very flexible man, and that’s something that Nicolas says he loves about his job. Every day brings about new challenges and he gets to learn new skills by solving them. And if he ever needs a hand, the administration office is very supportive and always willing to help.

If Nicolas isn’t at GTL, you can find him at his garage doing car restoration. Some of his projects have included Swedish, Japanese, and America Musle. One of his prizes is the ’72 Ford Grand Torino, which was shipped from California. In fact, as he was driving it from Northern France to Metz, he was stopped by the police many times. It wasn’t because Nicolas was doing anything wrong, but because they just wanted to admire the beauty!

Check out some of his projects here (all photos taken by Mr. Nicolas Jacquet):

’72 Ford Gran Torino


69’ Citroen Ami8


90’ Honda CRX (SI)


70’ Plymouth Duster

If you’re into cars or just looking for some friendly conversation, don’t be afraid to stop by Nicolas Jacquet’s office in the administration wing!

(Not Really) Free Mobile, But Still a Great Deal

All photos courtesy of Free Mobile.

As the semester draws to a close, I have to give my thanks out to Free Mobile. At first, I wasn’t planning on getting a SIM card. I had just spent the whole summer in Vietnam and I was totally okay without one. But after seeing the deal that Free Mobile was offering, I couldn’t resist.

For 19,99 euros/month + 10 euros (for the physical SIM card) you get:

It’s come in really clutch multiple times. For instance, you can call and send texts internationally for up to a total of 35 days, which is plenty for the semester. This includes the entire European Union (save for Switzerland) and also includes US landlines. It was very clutch when I had to call hostels telling them of late arrivals or contacting my US bank for information. A map of the coverage is here:

In addition, 50 GB of data is HUGE! It’s more than anyone ever needs, so I can use data whenever I wish. This is useful for looking up map information or places to eat/shop when traveling, and can be used as a hotspot for your computer should you decide to bring it on a trip AND when the Lafayette wifi is down.

I’ve found it to be very reliable in most countries I’ve traveled too, but it does tend to have less coverage in some spots. But for 20 euros a month, I’d definitely give it a go.

Note from the editor: It’s pretty easy to start – there’s a vending machine for SIM cards at their store downtown, but make sure you cancel Free Mobile BEFORE you leave! It is very tricky to handle otherwise. There are step-by-step instructions distributed for mail-in cancellation.

My Own Thanksgiving Break, Part 1: Hunting for Auroras

Since I decided it would feel weird to have school when it is usually Thanksgiving break, I decided to make my own vacation! To be honest, I wasn’t planning on skipping class, but after already booking a journey to Helsinki for a hackathon that weekend, I thought I’d take advantage of the opportunity of going north and try to catch some Northern Lights while I was at it.

My journey started Wednesday morning with a quick train ride to Paris. From there, I took a flight to Helsinki, and then another flight to Rovaniemi, which is a northern town in the Finnish Laplands.

Photo courtesy of blog

The weather was very cloudy the first evening I arrived, so I decided against hiking out to the middle of nowhere to hunt for lights and just sleep. The next morning, I explored what the town had to offer. I walked around town and saw the Christmas festivities and lights and some views of the frozen surroundings before making a trek up to Santa Claus Village. Oh yeah, did I mention? Rovaniemi is the official town of Santa Claus! It was bit of a long walk, but I thoroughly enjoyed the wintry scenery around and especially the Christmas mood of the village.


Following that, I went back into town and took a nap. Since the town is so far north and within the Arctic Circle, the sun rose around 10am and set around 2:30pm so by the time I was back at my AirBnB, it was already dark! Waking up, I went to a local bistro and got myself a reindeer sandwich in placement of the usual Thanksgiving turkey. It was quite delicious!

Now came the fun part. Since this was going to be my last trip, with my Eurail expiring the next day, I decided to go all out and book a Northern Lights hunting snowmobile safari! It started with an hour drive to the middle of nowhere where we then hopped on the snowmobiles and rode around to different “prime” locations to see Auroras. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t the most generous, as it was cloudy again. However, that meant we got to ride around much more, and that we did. We went on various trails through the forest and when we got to this flat, swampy area, our tour guide let us go on a little joy ride and crank up the speed to about 70 km/h!  Regrettably, my phone died in the freezing temperatures and no photos were taken besides the dashboard of my beast.

Even though it was a short trip, it was definitely one of my favorites and was an excellent way to end my travels with a bang. It also means I must buy a snowmobile in the future, as I had a blast!


If you haven’t heard about it already, Georgia Tech Lorraine has a Bureau Des Etudiants (BDE) which translates to “Board of Students”. This small group consists of students who plan out fun activities, food giveaways, and other events for the student population here. They are given a budget for funding and work closely with administration to ensure everything goes smoothly. If this sounds like something you’re interested in during your semester at GTL, definitely go for it! I know some of the board members and they sincerely enjoy what they’re doing.

Here are some of the events they planned/planning this semester:

Pizza Nights in the GTL commons
Game Night
Halloween Party
Breakfast the morning after the election
Indoor Skiing
Bowling and Laser Tag
Thanksgiving Potluck
Christmas Celebration

The Thanksgiving Potluck this past week was quite obviously loads of fun and food, as per the photos below!


Thanks for an awesome semester thus far BDE! Can’t wait to see what you have planned to round out our time here!

Planning With The Parents

Photo courtesy of Travel Trazee.

As a tangent to a blog post I had a couple weeks ago about doing fall break with my parents, I’ve decided to give an overview of coordination and planning to help assist those who might want to do trips with their parents while at Georgia Tech-Lorraine in the future!



Well first off, you and your parents have to pick a time to do the trip. Popular choices are usually before the semester starts, fall break (since it’s a week long), and after the semester ends. Some parents decide to just drop by for a weekend, and that’s not usually too tough to plan since it’s a couple of days.

Next, is the “where” of the trip. I’d say this is pretty important since this is a picking a place that both you and your parents want to go and visit. It’s also very important because from here, train or flight schedules need to be made to match. I offered to buy tickets for my whole family but my parents opted to buy them online. We simply decided around a certain time to leave cities and I let my parents book first. After they got their tickets, I cross referenced them with my Eurail app and proceeded to buy the matching ones. It was quite interesting, as some of the trains they bought weren’t on Eurail plan (ex. Italo in Italy is not part of the Eurail network) so I had to improvise and buy train tickets that were close to the same arrival and departure times.

Once that was settled, we needed places to stay for the night. I let my parents take the reins on this one, as they booked hotels for all three of us.



“All roads lead to Rome” – and that is where we decided to meet. I took my overnight train from Munich to Rome, and they took a shuttle from the airport. I arrived two hours earlier than they did so I did some exploring before meeting up with them. We decided that in case the train station Wi-Fi wasn’t working, there would still be a rendezvous place. Notably, this was going to be the McDonald’s in the Roma Termini station. Luckily the Wi-Fi did work, but we still met at the McDonald’s since it was convenient.


During the Trip

Plan out some things that you would want to see and see what your parents want to do as well! Things should run pretty smoothly from here, since we’re basically all pros at traveling at this point and can point our parents in the right direction. Gotta keep in mind that they aren’t college kids and won’t do the typical “college” things that we’ve come to expect when traveling.



I don’t think there’s anything left to do but to give them goodbye hugs and wishes until you see each other again! Or if you’re traveling with them back to the United States, enjoy the trip back to the homeland.

A Resounding Opinion: Meet Dr. Declercq

Dr. Declerq

As I sat talking to a good friend of mine, Giuseppe, the subject came around to the GTL blog. In no time at all he was telling me that I should interview of one his professors, Nico Declercq. According to Giuseppe, Dr. Declercq was the best professor he ever had. Intrigued I knew I would have to pick his brain and see why Giuseppe rated him so highly. So in this week’s interview, that is exactly what I did.

I knocked on Dr. Declercq’s door somewhat hesitantly not sure what to expect. As he greeted me I could tell there was something different about him. He seemed like someone generally interested and happy when dealing with people, a real people person. His soothing voice and nice smile always reassuring the audience he was there to help. Quite a good trait in a teacher.

Born in Belgium, Dr. Declercq – much like my father – was subject to learn many languages. Declercq currently speaks five different languages: Flemish (a form of Dutch), French, German, English, and Sinhalese (due to his Sri Lankan wife).

Declercq’s path to GTL is quite unlike other professors here. Most are American professors that have decided to come to Europe and branch out in terms of teaching and travel. Dr. Declercq is European and now teaches from Europe (specifically, Metz). He completed all his schooling in Belgium. At 18, he began attending the Catholic University of Leuven and graduated with a degree in Physics. Dr. Declercq then attended Ghent University, earning a PhD in Engineering Physics. His Post Doc work was split between the National Center for Physical Acoustics in the U.S. and Ghent University. Dr. Declercq is now the head of the Mechanical Engineering department here at GTL, so at this point in the interview I was intrigued as to how he came to this position.

Surprisingly Dr. Declercq wasn’t originally interested in Mechanical Engineering. He began telling me of his fascination with astrophysics and the vibration of stars. He got in touch with a professor dealing primarily with the vibration of materials and so began his research into ultrasonics. Seeing the confusion in my face as he uttered these words, he immediately went into professor mode, listing off examples and easy to understand concepts such as Chichén Itzá, Mexico (a Mayan ruin near Cancun). It is a large pyramid that filters sound waves. A common example is when people clap their hands, the sound returning is that of a bird chirp instead of a quieter clap. He listed plenty more to solidify the knowledge in me: the amphitheaters in Greece, libraries’ reading rooms in Viborg, Finland, and so on. Today, you can find Dr. Declercq teaching three courses here, including Acoustics, Waves and Solids, and Engineering Thermodynamics.

In closing, Declercq gave some of the best GTL-tailored advice I’ve heard to date. “Most students try to travel when they’re here. It’s good to travel, however, you need to learn to study while you travel. It’s not easy, but if you can combine travel with study you will be a very good engineer!”

Thanksgiving in France

As strange as the title reads it was true, we did have our own not so little, Thanksgiving in France yesterday. All week I had been thinking about what to write about. What would people reading this blog back in Atlanta want to hear about? What stories and events were happening this week that, once written about, could shape someone’s choice for attending GTL? I wracked my brain everyday trying to partake in meaningful things, and remember each moment, perhaps one fleeting one could represent a post, perhaps not.

In what now seems like a huge blur, I remember first seeing the huge feast before my eyes and being overcome with happiness. Walking in my eyes were instantly drawn to all the orange. The room had been stripped of its usually black chairs and tables and filled with wooden tables with bench seating like at a picnic. The tables were covered with bright orange tablecloths that really reminded you of home. Turning left I finally saw the bounty. It had been a long time since I had seen such “American” portions and boy, were they magnificent. Three or four tables had to be set up stretching the length of the entire room, just to hold all the food. And as the line, more of a mob in truth, formed by the table people kept coming, bringing more and more food.

Finally I got my chance: the line cleared, and I made my way to the table. As the line crawled forward, everyone was so excited, trying food from each plate. By the middle of the table the feast had turned into an ethnic party. People brought in their own versions of family recipes of thanksgiving classics – blackberry jam, roasted carrots, sausage stuffing, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes with skins, and more. The list went on and on. Much like the party that started once we sat down. As the benches began to sag as we ate our fills GTL’s mood felt festive. Halloween had passed us by and while some were festive and dressed up most didn’t partake, but this was different.

This really hit home when the slide show started. Around the time most of us began attacking the desserts, both French and American, the lights descended. This was our cue to turn and face the projector. As the slides showed the memories and locations it really hit me and most likely everyone else, just what this semester had been. Truly remarkable, a real gift! While each week we would stress about the ins and outs of school work, money, or other troubles we still made great memories. Each photo represented a thousand words, amazing stories of things no one here will ever forget. As the lights subsides for the second time we all rose in applause of not just Hannah for making the show, the hardworking chiefs who made this great meal, and not just Abbie and Jack for planning it, but to all who had witnessed and partook in this incredible semester.

A Little Treasure in Our Own Backyard (Kinda)

Posted by Harry

With the semester over in just under 4 weeks, I have begun to see some slight problems I was running into. The first was that the places on my bucket list (e.g. Spain, Iceland, Denmark, etc.) were getting a little far and difficult to travel to. The second of which was that my wallet was running a little dry. Next week, I’ve already planned a pretty epic hunting-of-sorts trip mixed in with a bit of nerdiness (stay tuned!), so this weekend was going to be a little more relaxed. I spent much of the weekend catching up on work and even getting ahead in preparation of what was going to come. One thing though, I did end up finding a little treasure of a hiking trail(s) nearby Metz in an area known as the “Little Switzerland” of Luxembourg.

To get to Luxembourg is about an hour’s train ride. From there, you take another hour bus to Echternach, a little commune in Luxembourg where much of the Mullerthal Trail runs from.

Photo courtesy of

As you can see from the map above, there’s plenty of trails to hike in this area. My friends and I just did a short day hike on Saturday to break up our workdays. The actual distances of each of the three trails are over 20 miles each, but we followed a shorter loop that let us hit the lake near the town and then parts of trails 1 and 2.

The trails weren’t too hard, and it just offered a lot of fresh air when you’re submerged in a forest and get to see parts of Luxembourg that you ordinarily wouldn’t see. It was a great way to spend a day, and would recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a simple and close (and cheap!) day trip. Even though two hours isn’t exactly in Metz’s backyard, it can seem that way when a majority of the places you’ve been to have been 6+ hours away!

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