Through this planning visit, U.S. Principal Investigator Arlene Maclin of Morgan State University, along with colleagues from the University of Arizona, will develop international cooperative research and education activities with partners at Aalto University of Science and Technology, in Finland. Her distinguished counterpart, Seppo Honkanen with Aalto's Department of Microelectronics, will head the collaboration on the Finnish side. Results from their planned longer-term interaction should improve our computational studies and fundamental understanding of magneto-optical materials and may lead to new, stimulating models for providing U.S. undergraduate students with early international research experience in fiber-optics. Furthermore, the follow-on activities are expected to complement and strengthen on-going research and education activities supported by the National Science Foundation at the University of Arizona based Engineering Research Center for Integrated Access Networks (CIAN), directed by Nasser Peyghambarian.

This planning effort fulfills the program objective of advancing our knowledge of optical access networks and subsystem integration by enabling researchers in the United States and Europe to share resources and expertise in areas of mutual interest and competence. The U.S. team's strengths in optical communication systems offer an excellent complement to those of the Finnish partners in photonics. Together, their goal is to work toward transformative technologies for optical access networks while preparing the up-coming generation of engineers for problem solving in team-based, multidisciplinary, international research environments. Broader impacts include a heightened ability to provide opportunities to explore careers in optical and electronic engineering to underrepresented minority students and faculty from Morgan State University and other U.S. institutions. Long-term success could contribute to a more diverse engineering workforce and to innovative, interdisciplinary system-driven designs, such as biosensing systems for monitoring the impact of environmental pollutants on ecosystems.

Project Report

, Dr. Arlene P. Maclin, Principal Investigator, Morgan State University, Department of Physics, Baltimore, Maryland 21251 During the period of October 10- 16, 2010 a group of six people including three people from Morgan State University (MSU) : Dr. Joseph Whittaker, Dean of the School of Computer, Mathematical & Natural Sciences (SCMNS), Dr. Arlene Maclin, PI and Dr. Gregory Wilkins, co-PI and from the University of Arizona: Dr. Meredith Kupinski, co-PI and Adam Jones, graduate student and Oscar Herrera, graduate student from the NSF –funded Engineering Research Center for Integrated Access Networks (CIAN) went on the trip to Helsinki, Finland. We were graciously hosted by Distinguished Professor Seppo Honkanen at Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland for the entire week. During this period, we received numerous briefings by researchers at MicroNova, the National Laboratory-VTT, and other professors at Aalto University. We also visited many business owners in the village called Otaniemi, which is where the National Laboratory, Aalto University and more than 800 corporate centers are located. Within the Otaniemi Village, there are more than 16000 undergraduate and graduate students and another 16000 professionals in a 4 km2 area. This close proximity of businesses, the university and a national laboratory is a living laboratory for technology innovation and creativity. Even though most of the Department of Energy Laboratories are administered by universities in the United States, there is no region that resembles this organizational arrangement, where students, faculty, business owners and corporate headquarter and scientists and engineers interact on an almost daily basis. Most of the students at Aalto University in Finland participate early in their college careers in cooperative work experiences with businesses and the national laboratory. This is common for students in all majors, not just those with majors in science, mathematics, engineering and technology (STEM). This may lead to the fact that many students in Finland make decisions about interdisciplinary careers. In addition, there is a center for entrepreneurships or a business incubator that any student may participate in for starting a company. Additionally, there is informal space where students, faculty and scientists and engineers can sit for coffee, tea or just for informal conversation. As a follow-on to our trip to Finland, Morgan State University and Aalto University submitted companion proposals to establish research collaborations to the National Science Foundation and the Academy of Finland respectively. The PI presented a paper on this trip at the American Physical Society International session in Dallas, Texas in March, 2011. Adam Jones, a final year PhD. student at the University of Arizona and Ronald McNair Scholar thought that " As we move forward, we find that science and engineering is becoming an increasingly global enterprise. As such, the ability to interface with foreign cultures quickly in an amiable way becomes increasingly important. A significant benefit to this experience comes from the fact that the planning meeting was held in Finland. Being on foreign soil and adapting to a foreign culture can be difficult and becomes easier with experience. I feel that this was one of the few opportunities where a student could participate in such an event in a somewhat observational position". Additionally, Oscar Herrera, a 3rd year graduate student at the University of Arizona and Ronald McNair Scholar stated that "My expectation for the trip was that I would observe the facilities available at Micronova and tour the beautiful historic Helsinki. However, after listening to the devotion and passion the faculty and administrators had, it inspired my further involvement. The focus of the project was to increase the involvement of undergraduate and graduate students in international collaboration. It is good to see how dedicated the faculty are towards their students, which is not always evident in a classroom environment. This is the type of attitude needed to initiate and encourage relationships between foreign universities". In addition, a presentation on the International Activity on behalf of CIAN was presented at the site visit for the three –year NSF-funded Engineering Research Center at the University of Arizona. In that presentation, we proposed that one possibility to fund follow-on collaborative research among MSU, Aalto University and CIAN would be an NSF Partnership for International Research and Education (PIRE) grant. This planning visit allowed Morgan State University, an HBCU, an opportunity to begin establishing international opportunities for research for a whole new generation of students. A memorandum of understanding is pending for the establishment of international exchange for faculty and students between Morgan State University and Aalto University. We gratefully acknowledge the support of the NSF for this opportunity and to all of our collaborators.

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