Fulbright Scholar 2015-2016
Given my background, it has been a challenging task to write a short but encompassing piece describing the Fulbright grant and this might have been the source of some procrastination. The purpose was to balance my initial expectations, the broad range of experiences during the six months spent at the University of California, Merced (UCM), between October 2015 and March 2016, and the still developing perception on how this will impact the future.
The professional experience has been excellent. As the tenth, newest and, from my subjective perspective, most dynamic campus of the UC system, UCM serves as a beacon and proof of commitment to higher education and top-level research in the Central Valley of California. My work in the ANDES lab, at the School of Engineering, with professor Alberto Cerpa concerned designing new algorithms and strategies to improve the energy efficiency and occupant comfort in smart buildings. More specifically it handled the mathematical models and tools, along with their implementation to achieve optimal control of room temperature based on varying input conditions related to factors such as: HVAC system architecture, energy cost and mix, weather, occupancy, user preferences, etc. Besides direct interactions and collaboration within the research group, I could rely on a state-of-the-art library and IT infrastructure for easy access to resources and attend various seminars and talks of interest for my project, with guest speakers from both academia and industry. Also, there was some time to explore other professional interests such as the Bay Area LabVIEW User group meetings in Santa Clara or a Smart Nation fintech conference at Stanford. Through the Outreach Lecturing Fund, I had the opportunity to share some of my own background and research at the International Technological University in San Jose.
The final results of the stay yielded two published papers in high-profile international conferences, to be presented during June 2016: ICCA – Kathmandu, Nepal and MED – Athens, Greece. A local project proposal was submitted to allow continuation of the work and key value lays in joint plans for future work, bringing back home and sharing some of the accrued experience: in carrying out but also effectively managing productive, high impact research.
On a personal note, having my family with me was simply great and a lifetime experience for us all. We could enjoy day to day life and immerse ourselves in the different environment. This included travelling and wondering at the high Sierras or the redwood forests, the vastness of the land and the diversity of the people. Though my son is now two, I enjoy believing that a part of this experience is his as well. Some impressions regarding the Fulbright Enrichment program have already been mentioned but also the NorCal Fulbright Association has put together a series of meetings and events, that were both informative and entertaining, and which allowed connecting with fellow Fulbrighters from the various universities in the region.
Finally, as the overarching goal of the Fulbright program is that of „mutual understanding between people” I believe this can truly occur only when you develop your own internal models by reaching out and engaging across boundaries. The Fulbright grant brought me one step closer to this and I encourage the prospective grantees to assimilate as much as possible from what this experience has to offer for both professional and personal development.
My fulbright experience
Students at the advising center
- Anna's Odyssey - by Anna Claspy
- RomericanJourney - by Damaris Lois Bangean
- A Most Unexpected Year - by Melanie Shoffner
- Eric Fretz
- Polar Bear in the Balkans - by David Jimenez
- Romaniadventure - by Anna Sherod
- Romania plus Hannah equals a blog - by Hannah Wolf
- A Palette for Thought - by Elijah Ferbrache
- A Year in Romania - by Anne Murray
- Lauren Hermele
- Katelyn Arlene Browher