This project will provide support for 10 US graduate students each year to participate in three Asia-Pacific Summer Schools on Smart Structures Technology (APSS) to be held in China, India, and Korea in 2011, 2012 and 2013, respectively. These summer schools include coursework, lectures, labs, and site visits that allow civil engineering graduate students to learn about smart structures technology in an international setting. The graduate students from other countries, supported by the organizations such as KOSEF/SISTeC in Korea, JST in Japan, NNSFC in China, and DST/IUSSTF in India, will also participate in these summer schools. The summer schools are organized to provide advanced training to graduate students in a multicultural and multidisciplinary learning environment to produce next generation of experts to create and design smart structures. The environment exposes the students to a broad knowledge frontier that does not currently exist. New education and mentoring paradigms are discovered during the summer school teaching and learning experiences.
One of the engineering challenges is the design and construction of smart structures. However, civil engineering graduate students are only exposed in a limited way to the wide range of other disciplines that make up smart structures technology. Seamless interaction between the fields of structural dynamics, control systems, circuit technology, wireless technology, bio-sensing, and informatics is required for successful applications. Additionally, some of the most advanced research and its applications are occurring overseas, which makes it difficult to access easily. Thus, the main educational challenges in the field of smart structures technology are: (1) providing students with the needed multidisciplinary background, and (2) familiarizing students with forefront research in other countries.
Introduction The Asia-Pacific Summer School on Smart Structure Technology (APSS) is a 3-week program including coursework, lectures, labs, and site visits, which allows graduate students studying civil engineering and related fields to learn about smart structure technology in an international setting. Roughly ten graduate students from each of the US, Korea, Japan, and China sponsored by the organizations NSF, KOSEF/SISTeC, JST, and NNSFC, respectively participated in this program each year. During the past four years, the host institute alternated between China, India, Korea, and Taiwan. The selection of participants each year was based on their competence in civil engineering, potential for continued academic and professional growth through the program, relevance of interest to an interdisciplinary and international approach to smart structures technology, and potential for success studying in a foreign country. Special emphasis was placed on the recruitment of individuals from underrepresented groups Technical Aspect The APSS program has helped to supplement the multidisciplinary approach which is insufficient in traditional civil engineering education. The curriculum addressed the hardware, software, data informatics, and applications of smart structures technology. Professors who are experts in the field of smart structure technology and are at the forefront of such research in their respective countries as well as the international community were invited to give lectures and interact with the students. The selection of lecturers and topics were made in a way that established a firm understanding of the multidisciplinary nature of this field. The laboratory experiences and technical tours exposed students to the first hand application of smart structure technology. The laboratory based student competition provided a realistic and challenging application of the technology studied. The laboratories also gave students a solid experience with experimental methods suitable for use in their future research. Cultural Aspect For the past four years of the program, China, India, Korea, and Taiwan have provided a unique perspective and series of successes not only inside but beyond the field. The cultural aspects of the host country have been highlighted through classes on the history, culture, and language of the host country and tours of sites with cultural and historical significance, such as palaces, temples, and museums. Such activities lent themselves to increased international cooperation through cultural understanding and involvement. From this annual summer school program, one can see that immersion in another culture has proved to be an excellent way to facilitate the growth and comprehension of new knowledge. Cooperation By engaging in a program with strong, daily interaction with faculty and peers, the students have been brought into the international research community and planted the seeds for long-term collaboration. The cross-cultural understanding has been incorporated in the professional career development of the students through on-site living and studying with the diverse set of students in the program. New relationships fostered through the program would almost certainly encourage students to both join and create international research projects in the future, as well as facilitate smoother interaction with international researchers at their own institutions. Any student continuing in the field of smart structure technology will have the confidence to interact with world top-notch research fellows at an international level. Feedback This program was successfully implemented with very positive feedback from the students and faculty involved. Alumni responses, in the form of summary reports and exit surveys, were a critical part of the program. These alumni responses have helped to identify weak points and prompted changes to the program, which helped to improve overall quality from year to year. Conclusion The APSS program has created a strong pool of creative and diversely educated US students to carry the field of smart structures technology into its future developments, particularly women and underrepresented minorities. It lessened gaps in the education of graduate students in the field of smart structures technology. The 3-week program exposed US students to the unique successes of the host countries and host researchers in the field and created an environment in which highly motivated students, faculty, and professionals were able to establish lasting international collaborative arrangements. In addition to tailoring a yearly educational program to meet the needs of smart structures technology, multiyear program objectives were established. These multiyear objectives ensure not only that students can receive a consistently first-rate experience, but also facilitate interaction with program alumni as a means of enhancing the experience of current participants and continue the education of the alumni. A positive experience with the APSS summer program has highlighted the effectiveness that this type of program can have in engaging motivated graduate students.