Earlier this year, M.D. Anderson Chair Professor and chairman of the mechanical engineering department Pradeep Sharma was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship through the Fulbright Specialist Program. The goal of this prestigious award is to send some of America’s leading academics, professionals, and researchers overseas for a short duration to conduct seminars, short courses, and engage in other institutional and faculty developmental activities.
In fulfillment of this award, Sharma spent 16 days at Delhi University in New Delhi, India to aid in the development of a computational nanoscience infrastructure at the university. Now, Sharma has returned back to the UH campus to share the fruits of his rewarding fellowship with the rest of the college.
During his stay at Delhi University, Sharma conducted short courses to introduce students to nanoscience and nanotechnology, as well as the application of these fields to various areas, including energy. Sharma also conducted research seminars on computational nanotechnology for graduate students, in which state-of-the-art computer methods were emphasized.
Additionally, Sharma undertook a comprehensive review of the university’s existing educational programs and curriculum in nanotechnology, providing university officials with advice on how to modify the curriculum in order to meet the future needs of engineers entering into this field.
In addition to sharing invaluable nanoscience expertise and improving the current nanoscience/nanotechnology curriculum at Delhi University, Sharma also stressed the positive impact this fellowship has for the University of Houston and the U.S.
“There is a growing demand for a technically competent, high-quality workforce at the graduate level, especially within the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) disciplines,” Sharma explained. Despite ongoing efforts at the University of Houston and other STEM Centers around the country to recruit and retain more American students into STEM disciplines, there is an enormous gap between the supply of domestically-trained U.S. STEM workers and the demand for them.
Sharma explained that this gap in the supply of a U.S.-trained STEM workforce can in part be met by helping to train and prepare students abroad for STEM careers in the U.S. “Programs such as the Fulbright Fellowship allow us to enable foreign institutes to better prepare their students for STEM disciplines, which, in turn, prepares them to become ideal candidates for graduate study in the U.S,” Sharma said. These students, he said, have the potential to become great contributors to scientific advances in the U.S., which helps to boost the economy.
“The University of Houston will benefit from the influx of such high quality graduate students,” Sharma said.
The Fulbright Specialist Program Fellowship is a Top American Research Universities (TARU) award through the auspices of the U.S. Department of State.