Posted June 7, 2010 Atlanta, GA
Engineering Students Combine Science and Ambassadorship
It is widely believed that today’s engineer should possess an intellectual diversity sensitive to the needs of an increasingly global society. During the past semester, three of Georgia Tech’s students — Hunter Causey, Thomas Wall, and Alice Wang — were recognized by The J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board for their ability to combine engineering and a passion for teaching and learning with ambassadorship.
“Georgia Tech’s Fulbright recipients are not just going to learn in another country, they are also contributing their own knowledge. There is mutual benefit in the ambassadorial spirit of the Fulbright program,” said Karen Adams, interim director of Georgia Tech’s Fellowship Communication Program. “Through the Fulbright program, our students and alumni are finding their places in the world.”
Over the previous two decades, two dozen Tech students have earned Fulbright Scholarships, representing the Institute across the globe. “In the past three years, 12 Georgia Tech Fulbright winners have served in Japan, two in Germany and Indonesia, and others in Poland, Tunisia, Switzerland, and Mexico,” Adams said. “This coming year, students will travel to the European Union, Cyprus, and Mongolia.”
Climate Change in Mongolia
Causey, currently earning his master’s degree in civil engineering will spend 10 months in Mongolia studying the effects of climate change on the Tuul River and its people. An avid fly fisherman and world traveler, Causey has “a special appreciation for contributing to protecting one of the world’s most pristine river systems.” Causey also has a special appreciation for Georgia Tech. His grandfather, who graduated from Tech in 1935, instilled in him a sense of the Institute’s “academic excellence.”
Causey’s interest in the Fulbright Scholarship was the result of both an international and academic experience. “The combination of a semester abroad to Denmark and undergraduate research with [Professor] Donald Webster sparked an interest in international research,” said Causey. “The Fulbright program interested me because in addition to being an academic research program, its primary aim is to foster mutual understanding."
Causey devotes much of his spare time to addressing global humanitarian issues. He is involved in the Georgia Tech Initiative for Development and Education in Africa (GTIDEA) and is a tutor at the International Community School in Atlanta through the Georgia Tech Office of International Education.
Computers and Conflict in Cyprus
Wang, a recent graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering with a minor in Economics and Law, Science, and Technology, plans to use her Fulbright in Cyprus implementing computer-assisted conflict resolution. “I look forward to applying the technical engineering knowledge I have learned at Georgia Tech to a real-world international affairs situation,” said Wang.
“I have always been interested in computer applications in international affairs and policy,” said Wang. “I was looking for a fellowship opportunity to go abroad for a year, and the Fulbright seemed a perfect match.” She credits School of Public Policy Professor Hans Klein for encouraging her interest in the Fulbright. “Dr. Klein convinced me to apply to the Fulbright and helped me through the application process. He has been a source of invaluable guidance throughout my time at Georgia Tech with career advice and networking help.”
Originally from Zhengzhou, China, Wang now calls Marietta, Georgia, home. After graduating from Walton High School, she chose to come to Georgia Tech “because of a great offer from the President's Scholarship Program here. The scholarship offered an impressive network of support as well as financial support, which convinced me to choose Georgia Tech over MIT and Caltech,” she said.
Transportation Infrastructure and Climate Change in Europe
Second-year civil engineering doctoral student Thomas Wall will study the relationship between climate change and transportation infrastructure at two universities in Europe. “I applied for a Fulbright because of the opportunity it afforded to conduct research at ground zero — that is, at two of the leading universities, The University of Oxford and the University of Amsterdam — in my chosen field of study: potential impacts of climate change on transportation infrastructure,” said Wall. “I am looking forward to the opportunity to exchange thoughts and research ideas with researchers to further our collective understanding of the potential impacts that climate change will have on transportation infrastructure and to develop methodologies to best adapt our current management practices given this context of changing climate.”
Originally deterred from applying for the Fulbright because he thought it would not fund engineering studies, Wall quickly learned that many of his fellow Georgia Tech engineering students had participated in the program. “After speaking with my current adviser, Professor Michael Meyer, we decided that the Fulbright would be a good experience, applicable to my research interests and an opportunity to gain an international perspective on climate change in relation to transportation,” he said.
Wall came to Georgia Tech from Seattle because of the Institute’s “strong, nationally competitive transportation engineering program,” and the amicability of the faculty, staff and students. He also is carrying on a family tradition. “My grandfather was a civil engineer in California, who worked for an international design and construction firm,” Wall said. “He worked on projects all around the Pacific Rim. His career is a very personal illustration of the responsibility that we have as civil engineers to the public. It also illustrates the global nature of that responsibility — the responsibility to positively affect communities outside of the U.S. and foster international exchange.” In addition to his studies, Wall actively seeks out ways to help the global community through his involvement in the Georgia Tech chapter of Engineers Without Borders.
About the Fulbright
Named after Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright Scholarship was established in 1946 as a vehicle for promoting “mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and the people of other countries of the world.” Grants are made to United States citizens and nationals of other countries for a variety of educational activities, primarily university lecturing, advanced research, graduate study, and teaching in elementary and secondary schools. Approximately 280,000 students — chosen for academic merit and leadership potential — have participated in the program, enjoying the opportunity to exchange ideas and to contribute to finding solutions to shared issues.