Speed School Faculty Share their Fulbright Experiences

University of Louisville faculty members recently nominated to participate in Fulbright sponsored programs overseas are now back on campus with stories to share

Brent E. Stucker

Brent E. Stucker, Professor and Clark Chair of Computer Aided Engineering, Department of Industrial Engineering, JB Speed School of Engineering, was awarded the Fulbright-VTT Grant in Science, Technology and Innovation. He was asked to visit Findland’s globally networked multi-technological contract research facilities. VTT is dedicated to providing high-end technology solutions and innovation services to a broad range of industries worldwide. Dr. Stucker’s specialty and extensive experience in additive manufacturing (AM) made him the perfect candidate for this opportunity. VTT was able to utilize Dr. Stucker’s expertise from Jan 1 to June 30, 2013 by working with Dr. Stucker to develop a research and development road-map for successful implementation of AM in Finland and through offering companies in Finland the opportunity to meet with Dr. Stucker for consultation regarding advanced manufacturing technologies relevant and available to their particular needs.

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland is an applied research organization with research labs sponsored by the Finnish government. They provide a variety of technological services to their customers’ businesses by providing them with access to a cross-disciplinary technological and business expertise, unique research facilities and high-end resources, and comprehensive partnership networks. In addition, they help promote the creation of new business in Finland.

Dr. Stucker traveled to Finland accompanied by his family; he was able to enjoy his stay as a tourist both professionally and personally. “I wanted my family to enjoy our time there”, “This was a win-win situation, where I was able to secure approximately $2M of funding to UofL while my family and I were experiencing sharing a 900 sq-ft living space in a foreign culture,” Dr. Stucker says. Due to the duties assigned to him, he had the opportunity to visit different cities while in Finland to visit companies interested in AM and its impact on their business. In addition to providing consulting services, he gave talks about international research and partnership opportunities regarding additive manufacturing. Assessing different companies and advising on how they can make use of the resources they already had to improve what they produce in a cost-effective way, not only had value for the companies but for Dr. Stucker who gathered a lot of insight from this experience and was able to develop partnerships for future endeavors.

Jacek M. Zurada

Jacek M. Zurada, professor of electrical and computer engineering, J.B. Speed School of Engineering, 2013 Vice President-Elect for Technical Activities at the prestigious professional organization known as IEEE (www.jacekzurada.org), was awarded a Fulbright Senior Specialist Grant from the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs of the US Department of State. He was chosen to visit the University of Catania, Italy, where he conducted seminars on computational learning, data mining and computational intelligence tools for data mining; participated in workshops; worked with undergraduate, graduate, and PhD students, and mentored junior faculty. Dr. Zurada was impressed by the University of Catania’s strengths as a premier metropolitan research university and its interdisciplinary profile. The UC engineering programs were of high quality, with traditional research and publication engagements; students were very well prepared.

While in Catania, Dr. Zurada was invited to tour the UC Seismic Center that monitors volcano Etna, Europe’s highest active volcano, located on the eastern side of Sicily. He was very impressed by the research facility; this experience and having to walk from his residence to work every day (“felt like a daily workout due to Catania’s steep hills”) were among the two most entertaining.

Dr. Zurada sees the value of this project has been in its wide impact and cross-fertilization of research and publishing activity. It has increased expertise at the host university that had not been available locally in Catania; the series of several in-discipline seminars and publication-oriented workshops has enhanced general research effectiveness of young local researchers.

“I learned that even at quality institutions such as the University of Catania there are unmet needs that this Fulbright program can fill out. In turn, I also learned that their EE program offers courses that would benefit our students at the University of Louisville” says Dr. Zurada.

Dr. Zurada is expecting a PhD Scholar from Catania to collaborate with on his research. He plans to visit UofL in Spring of 2014.

Kyung A. Kang

Kyung A. Kang, professor and graduate program director of Chemical Engineering Department, JB Speed School of Engineering, was granted a Fulbright Senior Lecture Award/Visiting Professorship to the University of Oviedo in Oviedo, Spain. The University has three main campuses and research centers. She was stationed in the Department of the Chemical and Environmental Engineering, the School of Chemistry. She was impressed with the multidisciplinary academic program, the research facilities at the University of Oviedo; she found the students were highly motivated to learn.

The main tasks for Dr. Kang’s Fulbright project were to develop and teach special courses for the fourth year undergraduate students in the Biotechnology Program, and also for the graduate students in the School of Chemistry. The students were instructed in English to provide them with the oral communication skills in English. Students were taught how to initiate a research project; how to work in a group; how to prepare facility information required for the project, professional biographies, budgets and budget justifications, and technical documents to propose a research project. She also participated in teaching biotechnology lab courses designed by multi-disciplinary faculty members. She felt this course was well designed and offering these lab courses in U.S. universities would be of great benefit for biengineering students, also as a “certificate offering course” for biotech industry employees via the Continuing Education Programs.

Dr. Kang also visited various research institutes (e.g., universities of Zaragoza, Granada, and Barcelona, as well as the host university) and gave seminars on her own research because she felt it was important to share research activities in two countries. This effort resulted in a joint research project with the University of Zaragoza.

The University of Oviedo is supported by the Spanish Government and the tuition is kept very low. Due to the current financial crisis in Spain, this year faculty salaries were cut significantly. “I heard no complaints because they realized the seriousness about their current situation,” says Dr. Kang; “Everyone was dedicated and great to work with.”

Dr. Kang enjoyed her stay in Spain very much. She found people were nice, the country was beautiful and culturally rich, and food was excellent (she really liked Spanish Tapas).

Dr. Kang encourages other faculty to apply for Fulbright programs to have more global visions. It also provides a great opportunity for research collaborations and for exchanging in faculty and students.

Dr. Kang still keeps contact with the University in Oviedo; she has been trying to recruit graduate students for the UofL Chemical Engineering programs.