Tag Archives: Engineering

A Year of Knee Research and Social Outreach in the Rainbow Nation

By Mathieu S. Davis, 2013-2014, South Africa

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Mathieu S. Davis, 2013-2014, South Africa (center), with his Grade R class at Ikaya Primary School in the township of Kayamandi, just outside of Stellenbosch. Every Friday, he would meet with these children to teach them English and play games in collaboration with their classroom teacher. In return, they taught Mathieu Xhosa. Whether it was ‘1-2-3 Red Light’, ‘Duck-Duck-Goose’ or a chaotic game of football (soccer), a great time learning and playing together was had by all.

My Fulbright in Stellenbosch, South Africa, was divided into two primary areas: research and community outreach. The research portion of my fellowship focused on knee replacement implants and the different tribological properties of current materials used in these devices. For this project, I had to build a device that functioned as a pin-on-plate wear tester, which would generate particles over the course of time that could be measured using simple distillation techniques to determine the degree of wear particles produced. My research aimed to determine the most effective combination of materials to limit debris and particle accumulation during extensive wear testing. I also performed additional research in gait analysis as a means of biometric identification. For this project, I had to come up with a novel statistical and repeatable method that could determine through statistical principles, the likelihood that two gait profiles are similar or different. This expertise was utilized by the South African Police Department as a potential identification tool of a crime suspect.

Dear Potential Fulbright Applicant

By Emily Yedinak, 2013-2014, Chile

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Emily Yedinak, 2013-2014, Chile

If you were anything like me, you may have heard that a Fulbright grant is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but that the application process is rigorous and very competitive. Perhaps you are filled with a lot of questions. You may even, like me, be filled with self-doubt. And for that reason, I want to share a small piece of my story.

Fulbright changed my life and I mean it changed my life in a colossal, momentous, and fantastic way. I didn’t know that when I stepped off the plane in Santiago, Chile, I was embarking on the biggest adventure of my life. I had read books about Chilean culture and history in preparation for my departure, but no book would have told me the depth of kindness I found in my peers as I slowly crawled, stumbled, and fell head-first into my Chilean life. I also would have never realized how difficult it was going to be adjusting to an entirely different world. But the incredible thing that I discovered was there were always people willing to help and guide me. The Chileans I met not only accepted me, but treated me like family – whether it was taking care of me when I was sick, helping me grocery shop and cook dinner after I had dislocated my shoulder, or lending me money when my wallet was stolen. The connections I made transcended cultural boundaries.

Engineering a New Mindset across the Pond

By Emmanuel Johnson, 2013-2014, United Kingdom

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Emmanuel Johnson, 2013-2014, United Kingdom, working in the lab

On September 10, 2013, I arrived in London, England at the King’s Cross tube station. As I left the station, I was hit by a cold breeze which quickly reminded me that my initial assumption about the weather in England was wrong.

I arrived in Birmingham, England a week later to begin my master’s program in robotics on a Fulbright grant. From day one, I was welcomed by students from various cultures. In the States, I was accustomed to meeting students from around the country, but in Birmingham, I met students from countries around the world – a few I knew nothing about. The exposure to different cultures challenged my views daily. I questioned my thoughts on dress, ideals, biases and ways of living. In the United Kingdom, the weather, fashion, food and dialect were different. I was naïve to think that because the British spoke English, the cultural elements wouldn’t be much different than those in the United States. I was constantly reminded of the difference between the two countries: when I rode the lift (British word for elevator), rode the tube (London subway) and had to get a jumper (British word for sweater) to keep warm.

The main focus of my Fulbright grant was to pursue a master’s in robotics and conduct research in human robot interaction. My research explored ways in which a robot can use gestures to provide feedback to a student during a learning activity.

Plasma Fused Cultures in South Korea

By Nathan Taylor, 2013-2014, South Korea

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Nathan Taylor, 2013-2014, South Korea (third from right), with his lab coworkers, visiting scholars from Germany in Bukchon Hanok Village in Seoul, South Korea

Prior to my experience as a Fulbright Student, I had almost no connection to South Korea. Before my Fulbright grant, I had been working on my Ph.D. at Drexel University in Philadelphia for the last five years and had never lived outside of my home state of Pennsylvania for any appreciable amount of time. The only tie that I had to South Korea was my research interests and a passion for learning about different cultures. I was introduced the Plasma Bioscience Research Center (PBRC) at Kwangwoon University by my research adviser at Drexel, so I advise any potential applicants to reach out to their advisors for connections as well. After receiving the fellowship, I spent 10 months living and working in Seoul, South Korea.

The people I met in South Korea were some of the most hospitable people that I have ever had the privilege of knowing. From my very first day, I was treated better than I could have imagined. The day that I landed, I was taken from the airport to my house and minutes later (after a 23 hour trip without a shower), went to a dinner with all of the lab members I would be working with and a visiting lab team from Japan. It was quite jarring, but they wanted to make sure that I was introduced as soon as possible and included in the event that was happening.

Don Quixote’s Fast Lane!

By Radhameris A. Gómez Gabriel, 2013-2014, Spain

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Radhameris A. Gómez Gabriel, 2013-2014, Spain, attending the Fulbright España Mid-Year Meeting in Valencia (Photo credit: Fulbright España)

During the 2013-2014 academic year, I had the opportunity to travel with a Fulbright U.S. Student Fellowship to the medieval city of Toledo, Spain to experience nine months of excitement and discovery. As a transportation engineer, my passion is road safety—that is, the safe movement of people on our roadways. In Toledo, I was hosted at the Universidad de Castilla La Mancha (UCLM), where I researched the various methods of facilitating the safe movement of vulnerable road users at highway-rail crossings.

Alongside my Spanish advisors and colleagues, I researched the various engineering, educational and policy practices that have been implemented in parts of the FEVE Rail system in the Northern Region of Cantabria in Spain and how this information can benefit U.S. rail safety. I spent time with engineers and railroad staff in the cities of Torrelavega and Santander, performing field visits as well as exchanging knowledge on common issues of the rail sector on both sides of the pond.