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Opportunities Not To Be Missed

August 26, 2013 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 91, Issue 34

Faculty of junior colleges as well as retired scientists and engineers, from industry or academe, are poorly represented among program participants for the State Department-funded Fulbright teaching and teaching/research awards. Those professionals are missing excellent opportunities to teach or conduct research overseas. I have been the recipient of three of these awards.

The Fulbright organization continues to look for ways to encourage professionals from many fields to contribute their skills overseas. For example, the prohibition on a maximum of two awards has been lifted, funds are available to supplement faculty salaries, and the opportunity now exists to conduct multiple short research trips over several years on one grant.

Although Fulbright awards are competitive, they are open to all who have demonstrated professional excellence in a wide variety of disciplines. There are many applicants for Western Europe or Australia. As scientists and engineers, we are fortunate that English is used to teach technical courses in many countries around the world. Also, junior college faculty and retirees with an industrial background, owing to their real-world experience or work with nontraditional students, are especially valued in developing countries. In many cultures, age is an asset, too.

After retiring from the chemical industry, I spent two academic years in the Persian Gulf and one in Indonesia as a Fulbright award recipient. Although the first several months in a different culture can be challenging, my wife and I both treasure our experiences.

The deadline to apply for next year is Aug. 1, 2014. For those industrial scientists and engineers nearing retirement or currently retired, having some teaching experience, for example as an adjunct lecturer in a two- or four-year school, is extremely helpful. Now would be the time to start preparing a Fulbright award application by going to and noting the awards available by region and discipline and the titles of successful past projects.

Thomas Weeks
Columbus, Ohio



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