Economic globalization is transforming the nature of the engineering profession. The assignment of U.S. engineers overseas has become common business practice, as global enterprises establish corporate as well as research and development centers worldwide. To remain at the forefront of science and technology and to sustain our nation's global leadership in engineering, we must train our engineering graduates to be productive professionals in tomorrow's global business world and provide them the skills they will need to collaborate with international partners. This three-year IRES program will teach some of those critical skills to U.S. engineering students by providing hands-on research training and cultural experiences in one of the fastest growing regions in the world. The students will conduct research in Egypt with U.S. and Egyptian investigators in the increasingly important field of sustainable urban design. The need for sustainable housing and infrastructure is particularly acute in Egypt, a nation where 95% of the population lives on just 6% of the land area. Students will leverage the many national research initiatives currently underway in Egypt to investigate and test sustainable infrastructure designs. Participants will receive extensive mentoring before, during, and after their international experience from the U.S. and Egyptian researchers, with the ultimate goal of conducting high-level research and preparing research papers for publication in peer-reviewed journals. By working closely with their international mentors, the students will enhance their cross-cultural skills, foreign language abilities, and professional experience, preparing them to excel in a multinational environment.

This three-year IRES project will provide approximately 30 undergraduate and graduate engineering students research training and cultural experiences in Egypt. The students will work with U.S. mentors and Egyptian researchers at one of the leading national research centers in Egypt, the National Housing and Building Research Center. The program will focus on the multidisciplinary theme of Infrastructure Design for Sustainable Urban Communities. The Egyptian government is currently pressing major research initiatives and demonstration projects related to sustainable urban design, including entire new cities built around sustainability principles. Our students will leverage these ongoing programs to explore and evaluate new designs for urban infrastructure that consider building materials, construction methods, energy efficiency, and water conservation. Working with our Egyptian partners, the researchers have identified eight research projects for the first year of the program that address the topics of sustainable affordable housing, the assessment of sustainable building codes, infrastructure health monitoring, sustainable building materials, water and stormwater management, and intelligent building designs. Additional research topics will be developed in subsequent years. Students will work side-by-side with Egyptian researchers with the goal of performing high-level research and producing student-led, peer-reviewed publications. The program will ultimately produce students who have the skills and international perspective necessary to pursue careers in collaborative international research.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
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Maija Kukla
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University of Alabama Birmingham
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