To GT-Lorraine...and Beyond!

25 years of academic excellence and adventure

Category: Faculty & Staff (Page 1 of 2)

Meet Brandon Carroll: Soon-to-be-Doctor and Excellent ECE Professor

Walking into Brandon Carroll’s office hours, I could tell that he had a lot on his plate. Answering a student’s question, his laptop screen filled with graphs and his notebook annotated in detail, it was easy to tell that this is a man of multitasking. I was thrilled that he had time for a few questions for the blog. He is one of my favorite professors, and has a knack for knowing exactly what the students mean when they ask questions, which is a rare gift. Here are some of the questions I asked him.

What classes do you teach right now?

I teach ECE 3710, which is a circuits class. It is definitely less stressful than my other class, which is ECE 3048. It’s a junior level Electrical Engineering class about signals and systems. It is a LOT of math, with Fourier and Laplace transforms. It has a lot of things that I haven’t done in a while. But you certainly learn the material better if you have to teach it.

What are you working on right now besides teaching?

I am working on my PhD with Dr. Anderson at the moment. So I have to work a lot on writing and defending my thesis. My research is about using machine learning algorithms to study chicken behavior based on sound. We put a microphone in the chicken house and analyze the sounds they make to determine how they are feeling. People are really interested in animal welfare, and if perfected, this system could replace the method of taking cortisol samples, which stress the animals out. This would be a way to measure the system without disturbing it, and would really benefit animal welfare.

What is your favorite part about being a professor?

Someone came up to me the other day and said, “This is the first time I ever fully understood convolution.” You can tell they are understanding something they didn’t before. Seeing that light come on is really rewarding.

What is your favorite part about GTL?

I haven’t thought about it a whole lot. This is my first year at GTL. It has been a lot of fun trying to learn a new language, although finding the time for that is hard. I love experiencing the culture around here. The food and baguettes are really amazing. The scenery around Metz is really pretty too. I took a 3.5 hour walk yesterday, and passed all these picturesque fields. It was amazing.

What are some of your hobbies outside of school?

I love playing tennis, and camping and hiking. I especially love reading. Picking a favorite book is hard, but I would have to say To Kill a Mockingbird. I also really liked The Book Thief, and The Name of the Wind is really cool too.

Faculty Interview: Dr. Li

Last week I had the wonderful opportunity to sit down with Dr. Wing Li, the mathematics professor at GTL for this semester. I attend the class she is teaching for undergraduates this time around, differential equations, twice a week and can personally attest to the fact that she is one of the most genuinely nice professors currently teaching at Georgia Tech, and someone who really does care about her students learning.

dr-li

I learned from Dr. Li that she attended high school in Hong Kong, which is where she first realized that mathematics was the subject she wanted to pursue into college and beyond. After graduating from high school, she moved to the United States by herself to attend an American college, first receiving her B.S. from the University of Iowa, and then her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, both in mathematics.  Now Dr. Li teaches at Georgia Tech and is currently in her 3rd semester at our French campus.

Dr. Li told me that she believes that many professors are reluctant to volunteer to teach at GTL, often due to having kids who are currently enrolled in primary or secondary school in the Atlanta area. However, Dr. Li is in the unique position of being married to a native of France and having kids who are fluent in the language. She told me: “it was an excellent experience for the children, not only did they get to learn subjects in French, but they also got to really see the differences between the American and French school systems.” Because of this, Dr. Li was more than happy to volunteer for the position multiple times.

Currently Dr. Li is involved in research related to a subject called operator theory, which she described to me as basically being linear algebra (matrices, subspaces, etc.) but with infinite dimensions. She says it is an extremely interesting subject since: “you can’t just use a calculator or a computer to solve for the answer when you’re working with infinite dimensions. You have to really break everything down to pure theory instead of solving for specific examples.” Also, “if you can understand how things work with infinite dimensions, working with finite dimensions becomes simple.”

Outside of math, Dr. Li told me she’d always had an interest in music.  Following graduate school, she began taking piano lessons, but not having a piano of her own to practice at home, she switched instead to voice lessons. “It was convenient because I will always have my voice with me, but I didn’t realize how much of a strain lecturing for hours every day would be.” So, finally, she ended up choosing the violin, which she practiced an hour every day for 8 years until kids came into the picture.

At Georgia Tech Lorraine, students are encouraged to travel as much as they can, so I thought I’d ask Dr. Li a little about her travels. She told me that of all the places she’s been to the Greek islands struck her as the most beautiful, but the place that had the greatest impact, she revealed, was actually Alaska. “I had never seen anything so vast, yet in a way it was romantic and inviting. A place where I would very much like to stay and contribute to the land instead of just pass through.”

Dr. Li’s parting words to me were ones of advice for students here at GTL “don’t miss Metz,” she told me. “As you travel to famous locations all over Europe, don’t forget about the place you are calling home for these 4 months, and the incredible beauty and history that is right in our backyard.”

GTL Staff Spotlight: Mme. Leslie

Sometimes you encounter a person that radiates the most pleasant of auras. Leaving her office after this interview, I simply couldn’t stop smiling to myself.
Leslie Lourador, HR coordinator and Executive Assistant to the Director at GT Lorraine, is an integral part of the GTL staff. For the past two years, she has acted as an assistant to the director of the whole school, as well as managing the contracts, holidays, payroll, and concerns of all of the faculty and staff of this institution, in addition to requesting financial aid from the regional office to hire PhD and postdoctoral students and to finance research projects. She was born in Metz, and has lived in the region for most of her life, and she went to university at Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers.
What do you like most about your job?
I love the international environment. The environment is very dynamic with all the young people running around; every day is different. I also enjoy the small staff. We definitely are close because we have a human-sized team. Oh, and I love my view. From my window I can see the lake, and the Technopole. It is very beautiful.
Do you have any advice for students?
Travel as much as you can before you enter the professional world. That’s what I would do if I were your age. Also, don’t be afraid of change and making bold decisions. If in a few years you decide you want to do something else, don’t be afraid to give it a try. It’s not the end of the world.
What are your hobbies and interests?

I started yoga six months ago. This is really good because it helps with stress and tension. I also love to travel. Recently I have been to LA, and New York, which I enjoyed very much. I also love reading contemporary fiction in French and English.

GTL is lucky to have such a wonderful woman working so hard on its staff! Thank you, Leslie!

Faculty & Building / Security Support Nicolas Jacquet

w17-p1-p1Name: Nicolas Jacquet

Position: Faculty & Building / Security Support

Years at GTL: 11th year

Interests/Hobbies: Car restoration, biking.

One line to describe GTL: “It’s a place of connectedness. We get to be in touch with any different people and different cultures here.”

Piece of advice for students: Taken advantage of what Metz has to offer and explore around. Even though he is from Metz, he still finds himself discovering new things every day!

Meet Nicolas Jacquet, the man with the position of Faculty & Building / Security Support. I like to call him “The Rock” because of the solid foundation of support he provides us as a community. When faculty from Atlanta first come over here, he is the primary point man in the transition, handling all the transfer paper work from Atlanta and helping the families settle in with housing and transportation in France. That’s just one side of his job; on the other half, he works closely with security and Francis Gangloff, our building maintenance supervisor. All the things he does keeps us safe and the building fresh and clean! He’s a very flexible man, and that’s something that Nicolas says he loves about his job. Every day brings about new challenges and he gets to learn new skills by solving them. And if he ever needs a hand, the administration office is very supportive and always willing to help.

If Nicolas isn’t at GTL, you can find him at his garage doing car restoration. Some of his projects have included Swedish, Japanese, and America Musle. One of his prizes is the ’72 Ford Grand Torino, which was shipped from California. In fact, as he was driving it from Northern France to Metz, he was stopped by the police many times. It wasn’t because Nicolas was doing anything wrong, but because they just wanted to admire the beauty!

Check out some of his projects here (all photos taken by Mr. Nicolas Jacquet):

’72 Ford Gran Torino

 

69’ Citroen Ami8

 

90’ Honda CRX (SI)

 

70’ Plymouth Duster

If you’re into cars or just looking for some friendly conversation, don’t be afraid to stop by Nicolas Jacquet’s office in the administration wing!

A Resounding Opinion: Meet Dr. Declercq

Dr. Declerq

As I sat talking to a good friend of mine, Giuseppe, the subject came around to the GTL blog. In no time at all he was telling me that I should interview of one his professors, Nico Declercq. According to Giuseppe, Dr. Declercq was the best professor he ever had. Intrigued I knew I would have to pick his brain and see why Giuseppe rated him so highly. So in this week’s interview, that is exactly what I did.

I knocked on Dr. Declercq’s door somewhat hesitantly not sure what to expect. As he greeted me I could tell there was something different about him. He seemed like someone generally interested and happy when dealing with people, a real people person. His soothing voice and nice smile always reassuring the audience he was there to help. Quite a good trait in a teacher.

Born in Belgium, Dr. Declercq – much like my father – was subject to learn many languages. Declercq currently speaks five different languages: Flemish (a form of Dutch), French, German, English, and Sinhalese (due to his Sri Lankan wife).

Declercq’s path to GTL is quite unlike other professors here. Most are American professors that have decided to come to Europe and branch out in terms of teaching and travel. Dr. Declercq is European and now teaches from Europe (specifically, Metz). He completed all his schooling in Belgium. At 18, he began attending the Catholic University of Leuven and graduated with a degree in Physics. Dr. Declercq then attended Ghent University, earning a PhD in Engineering Physics. His Post Doc work was split between the National Center for Physical Acoustics in the U.S. and Ghent University. Dr. Declercq is now the head of the Mechanical Engineering department here at GTL, so at this point in the interview I was intrigued as to how he came to this position.

Surprisingly Dr. Declercq wasn’t originally interested in Mechanical Engineering. He began telling me of his fascination with astrophysics and the vibration of stars. He got in touch with a professor dealing primarily with the vibration of materials and so began his research into ultrasonics. Seeing the confusion in my face as he uttered these words, he immediately went into professor mode, listing off examples and easy to understand concepts such as Chichén Itzá, Mexico (a Mayan ruin near Cancun). It is a large pyramid that filters sound waves. A common example is when people clap their hands, the sound returning is that of a bird chirp instead of a quieter clap. He listed plenty more to solidify the knowledge in me: the amphitheaters in Greece, libraries’ reading rooms in Viborg, Finland, and so on. Today, you can find Dr. Declercq teaching three courses here, including Acoustics, Waves and Solids, and Engineering Thermodynamics.

In closing, Declercq gave some of the best GTL-tailored advice I’ve heard to date. “Most students try to travel when they’re here. It’s good to travel, however, you need to learn to study while you travel. It’s not easy, but if you can combine travel with study you will be a very good engineer!”

Maths & Laughs: Meet Dr. Popescu

The first of my classes I attended this semester was Differential Equations. It was an hour and a half lecture on a hot Tuesday. I remember feeling very tired. Everyone had just arrived from their respective airports – Frankfurt, Luxembourg, or Paris. The night before we had been getting to know each other, the Lafayette dorms, and the town of Metz. Everyone was very disappointed summer had officially ended and school started the next morning.

Dr. Ionel Popescu

As we made our way into lecture I looked around, everyone seemed dead tired or just mentally fatigued in some way. But as our “world famous” tech guy patched our connection through to Atlanta, a smiling face came through. Dr. Ionel Popescu. He quickly gauged the room and could tell we were all not in the mood for math. So he began telling us about himself. He was born in Romania, currently doing research on topics associated with differential equations. Then came the jokes, the famous jokes!

Now, it is almost inconceivable for me to think of Diff. Eq. without jokes. Dr. Popescu has a very good talent for timing them well. Just when people start to trail off and lose focus, out comes some hilarity in the form of Irish bar jokes, English humor, or laughs about Russian mathematicians. Some were better than others, yet the amazing thing is his quantity. At least 3 or 4 jokes every lecture, each of them different. So for three and a half months now he has been going strong telling well over 100 jokes in that time. And to be truthful, Dr. Popescu was the first faculty I thought of when I learned I would need to interview professors and students. Mathematicians always have very interesting minds. As Dr. Popescu might say “all this math wears on you and some mathematicians in fact go insane.” He told us a joke about a couple of insane mathematicians, but I’ve forgotten some and will spare telling it for fear of butchering the joke.

Unfortunately I was unable to actually get an interview with Dr. Popescu due to his location difference. You see, Dr. Popescu teaches us all the way from Atlanta through a video conference class. Some casual “googling” was enough to find more about Dr. Popescu. (His website is not only as witty as his lectures but also as informative.) Dr. Popescu received his doctorate at MIT in 2004. He spent the next three years working as a postdoc at Northwestern University doing research. Eventually in 2007 he found his way to us Georgia Tech, where he began as an assistant professor. Currently Dr. Popescu teaches a variety of courses at Georgia Tech ranging from 2552 (Differential Equations) to 4080-Senior Projects, 6221-Classical Probability, and 9000-Doctoral Thesis. Continuing his interest in research, Dr. Popescu focuses his witty talents on stochastic analysis on Manifolds, Differential Geometry, and random matrices just to name a few.

Dr. Popescu also proves a point to many students trying to make it at Georgia Tech; with the right attitude, especially positivity, difficult problems become much easier to solve.

Dr. Puybaret & GTL: Two Peas in a Pod

After a bit of running around, I was able to finally track down a fun candidate for interviewing this week. Originally I was all set for an interview with my Differential Equations professor, Dr. Jordan. However, Harry, being the master interviewer, had already snatched him up. Fortunately for me, this led to the interview of one brilliant Dr. Renaud Puybaret.

Upon entering Dr. Puybaret’s office, it was clear he was a step ahead of the rest. His entire door was covered in papers. Entering his office was much the same, as his desk was crowded with more papers and as he turned to greet me, his face seemed like one in thought. On his computer were two open windows, almost identical, showing black backgrounds with slightly lighter dark circles in a pattern across the screen. These were apparently simulations of some Nano-sized photovoltaic cells he was designing.
As you may have guessed Dr. Puybaret is not American, but born and raised in France, earning his degrees in Toulouse. He attended the French University, ENSEEiHT, earning his Masters of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering degree. Our wonderful advertising people here at GTL sold Dr. Puybaret on Georgia Tech’s graduate program. Dr. Puybaret originally had a full job lined up with Airbus following his graduation. He attended a presentation given by Professor Bertrand Boussert about Georgia Tech. “We were college students and they were giving out free food, so of course we attended. Yet, after hearing about all the great things they were doing, my friend and I looked at each other and said, ‘Let’s do it’!”

That day, he received his contract from Airbus in the mail. His then professor Dr. Ougazzaden, and now current boss, called him just in time. “Had professor Ougazzaden called me an hour later, the contracts would have be signed and there would be no going back. But instead I decided to be poor and do science.” Despite already having a job already lined up, Dr. Puybaret always felt that having an American degree would be a great thing. Most companies have American offices, and he’d always wanted to go to America. The decision proved both intelligent and fruitful. He began his doctorate in 2009 and officially received his PhD in June 2015. Dr. Puybaret described, with a smile on his face, all the great times he had. “Half the time I spent in America, which was a very good experience. Half my time was in the School of Physics in Atlanta.”
Upon completion of his doctorate, he went through Georgia Tech’s Innovation Corporation, where his thesis for his PhD became the ground for his own Nanotech Company. Dr. Puybaret focuses on fabrication of devices of size 50 to 100nm. There are two categories in Nano Physics: which utilizes graphene, and Inorganic Photovoltaic, using indium gallium nitride. Working under Dr. Ougazzaden, Dr. Renaud Puybaret is a Post-doc creating a company to make LEDs out of the Nanotech developed in his Thesis. However, the brilliance doesn’t stop there — on top of running his own company, Dr. Puybaret is also a professor here at GTL. He teaches ECE 3040 (Microelectronics) teaching the basics of creating transistors and photovoltaic cells.
With amazing researchers and professors such as Dr. Puybaret, it is clear to see why the GTL campus is growing so much.

Aerospace in the Fast Lane: An Interview with Dr. Zaidi

Dr. Zaidi himself!

Today after what seems like an eternity, I finally sat down with Dr. Zaidi, my  Aerospace professor. I had been chasing this interview for quite some time, but every time something came up; either he was busy or I was. However, it was worth the wait.

Born in New York City, Dr. Zaidi like the rest of aerospace engineers, was destined for the field. We bonded over this during the interview discussing how in order to make it in this field, you have to know early on that this is what you want to do. Born to parents from Mumbai, India Dr. Zaidi would often fly home – what back then was not a nonstop flight, but a flight that was so long that they needed to stop and refuel somewhere in Europe each time.

This is where his passion came from. He told me, “I remember standing at the gate, my parents were in line, but I was glued to the window always looking at the plane. Back then it was the 747 – she was the Queen of the skies!” From this, he has gone on to build an entire profession and life around planes and aviation. Dr. Zaidi attended a vocational high school in NYC geared towards aviation. Before coming to Tech he interned with Delta doing aircraft maintenance.

Four years as a Yellow Jacket saw him earning his undergrad and set out for the world. Unfortunately, just as he graduated the economy tanked, making industry jobs much harder to come by. With an attractive offer from Tech’s graduate school, the professor was born. Six years later, Dr. Zaidi had his Masters and PhD. While in grad school a friend tipped him onto CETL, the Center of Enhancement for Teaching and Learning. Simply put, the center focuses on improving teachers’ teaching. “Taking the courses in undergrad I saw how there were a number of ways to improve the courses. The curriculum can be very difficult, and I wanted to do a better job at teaching than I had seen.” This what brought him to Georgia Tech-Lorraine.

Photo courtesy of Journey of Innovation (innovajourney.blogspot.com).

And of course, two AE’s couldn’t be in a room without a little plane talk. So as the interview concluded Dr. Zaidi gave me some advice and an inside scoop on planes today. During Graduate school, his focus was on jet propulsion and he interned with Rolls Royce. Because this is a field quite similar to one I wish to go into, Dr. Zaidi explained to me, just like in lecture, how now is a great time to be an aerospace engineer. Modern day jets are reaching the plateau of the “S Curve” (graph depicting the efficiency of the engine), meaning that the normal turbines cannot be made more efficient. Instead companies are now shifting to new designs, different engines altogether, and all in all, truly amazing stuff. The current paradigm shift is very exciting for budding Aerospace engineers, and the field as a whole.

A true role model and great teacher Dr. Zaidi will no doubt go on to better our rep of Aerospace faculty at Georgia Tech.

The Walking Career Center: Alumni and Corporate Relations Manager John Fritsch

(Photo courtesy of John Fritsch)

Name: John Fritsch

Position: Alumni and Corporate Relations

Years at GTL: 10

Interests/Hobbies: Photography, trail running, music and guitar.

One line to describe GTL: “It feels like the world here. There are many nationalities converging to one point”.

Piece of advice for students: “Understand what you need to do when you are going into the job market. Be mature on how you approach and work with people. Have a vision on what you need to and mold it around your personality. And as an engineer, it’s more than just the technical side, you need interpersonal skills, too. That could make a huge difference in a job.”

Baguette or Croissant? Croissant.

Meet our resident Alumni and Corporate Relations Manager, John Fritsch. Or, as I like to think of him, the walking career center. His job is two-sided, linking students to both corporations and alumni. On the corporation side, it’s connecting students to companies through internships and jobs. On the alumni side, it’s simply introducing alumni to the students and managing the Georgia Tech-Lorraine alumni database. We all know the importance of getting an internship, but the graduate program here at GTL actually has an internship built in! Mr. Fritsch here is the catalyst by not only connecting the companies with GTL students, but also by hosting a graduate seminar that presents companies and all their current challenges to make better matches. “Mission First Job” hosts loads of companies – and is a bit like most career fairs. (Check out the details of the last session this  past spring, and prep for the next one!)

Outside of classes, John enjoys photography. Specifically, he’s experimenting with time lapses and night shots at the moment. He also enjoys trail-running, and has actually run in Yosemite when he was in the United States! Finally, you might find him playing guitar. An interesting note is that he has played guitar with a professor at GTL here once before.

Keep making the magic happen, John!

Truly Unique

Throughout my 19 years of life and about 15 years of schooling, I’ve had many teachers. Teachers or professors come in all walks of life. Each leave us with something to take forward in life, all have an impact on our life in some way. My most memorable teachers all had a distinguishing feature about them – something that I remember about them even to this day. Mrs. Stanson always talked with confidence, and she was the first teacher who instilled passion and dreams into me. Mr. Sturgill, or just Sturgill to me, was the first relatable teacher I ever had: always down to earth and truly authentic in every way imaginable, a great friend. Finally, Mr. Corcoran was by far my favorite teacher; always teaching even when we weren’t reading from the Russian, Greek, and American classics.

Coming to GTL I didn’t expect my list of all-time greats to be in contention. I am glad to say it indeed is, due to the great work and personality of Sonia Serafin.
Madame Serafin is my French 1001 professor this semester and really one of the soniabest professors I’ve had in quite some time. All the above mentioned “professeurs” are on the list due to one distinguishing factor; however for Madame Serafin, it is quite hard to pin point what makes her such a good teacher. From day one she made it clear that she will try to really teach us and help us learn French. To her, the grades don’t matter as much as her job. Accomplishing the task – teaching her students French – is what drives her motives.

Oh, and her motives. I chuckle just remembering them, when we started learning the more complicated speech of French such as liasons, and accent aigues,  she started pantomiming. Making gestures, and dances, whistling, the list goes on. Each one stood for a mistake. During in class exercises when we practiced speaking French she would do these. In case I forgot a liason, she would whistle and draw the motion of the liason with her finger. The most amazing one is related to her jokes about the Spanish language, saying “leave for Spanish at the door.” Meaning approach French differently in pronunciation, even thought it might be spelled similarly.
Perhaps the most notable of Madame Serafin’s characteristics is her love for subject. I remember one class during which she had assigned a huge amount of in class work and just before we were about to begin, a fellow classmate asked her a question.

“How many languages do you speak?”

The response took the rest of class and boiled down the story of her childhood. Born Italian to parents who spoke multiple languages including French, She went on to live in England, the Netherlands, and America learning each new language as it came. She explained the beauty behind language as the “real life application” of what we were doing in class. Language is a state of mind, and really only in the advanced stages of a language can you understand this. When I finally passed the threshold in my mother’s tongue of Hungarian I, too, understood this. You no longer think in terms of direct translation to English. You think and behave in that language, forming thoughts and ideas.

In the end, the simple answer boiled down to 7; seven ways to speak, think, and act. She looked at her watch and gave us a sly smile, joking that we wasted all class. Yet, she understood we truly cared and dismissed us for the day knowing she had impacted all of us.

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