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Category: Graduate Studies (Page 2 of 2)

The Next Big Thing: Graduate Student Taha Ayari

Posted by Harry 

Photo courtesy of Taha Ayari

 

Name: Taha Ayari

Major/Field of Study: Electrical and Computer Engineering

Year in Grad School: Currently in his 4th year with Georgia Tech in pursuit of a PHD.

Undergraduate Institution: Ecole Supérieure des Communications de Tunis (2 years), Georgia Tech (2 years)

Interests/Hobbies: Sports, especially soccer and swimming.

One piece of advice for graduate students: “Hard works pays off.”

Baguette or Croissant? “Depends. A croissant in the morning and a baguette for lunch.”


Taha is a graduate student currently working in the “Materials and Nanostructures for Photonics and Electronics” group at the Georgia Tech-CNRS (French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) international research lab. He works closely with his advisor and the boss of our Georgia Tech Lorraine campus, Dr. Abdallah and also with Dr. Paul Voss. The research they do focuses around Semi-Conductor Material and Optoelectronics.

Taha’s journey here to GTL started in Tunisia, where the school system is a little different. After high school, they go to an “école préparatoire” or “preparatory school” for two years before pursuing their degree. He chose GTL after graduating and considers it a very special opportunity because it is both international, a chance to gain a dual degree, and overall best program. Upon completion of his research, Taha hopes to hop into the R&D Industry and get a job there. He’s already got his Master’s degree and published a paper, so the future looks bright!

Talking to Taha, you can really see the passion he has about his research and the overall atmosphere and opportunity of being at GTL. The things he loves about GTL is that it’s a small, close-knit community, unlike many of the large collegiate institutions we hail from in the states. He also loves Metz, because unlike some touristy places across France, it actually “looks like France.” At his lab, he praises the teamwork that goes on.

Amongst all the hectic travel we’ll be doing, there will be definitely times we should just take a breath and appreciate life at GTL, the community we’re a part of, and the wonderful city of Metz as Taha mentions. Best of luck with your semester Taha, and best of luck to all of you fellow GTL peers.

Undergraduate Research Student: Sarah Selim

Posted by Morgan

MK-Selim2Studying abroad is hard for engineering students: the classes, the rigor, the balance with travel. At times it may seem that a Georgia Tech engineering student will never gain that exciting abroad experience. This is not the case for Sarah Selim though. A rising 3rd year in mechanical engineering, she always knew she wanted the study abroad experience, but she also knew that she wanted the undergraduate research experience as well. Fortunately, she found the answer in GTL.

For myself, I did not even know that undergraduate research existed at GTL. I figured that my only option was to come to Metz, take a couple classes, and spend my weekends traveling. The same was true for Sarah. But Sarah knew that she wanted to find a work abroad program for the summer and that the paperwork hassles that come along with working abroad are not exactly appealing, so she did a little digging into the research opportunities at GTL. While Sarah was aware that the research opportunities at GTL are usually only available for graduate students, she had the drive to convince them otherwise.

At first, she wasn’t sure if any professor would let her come work at GTL, but after multiple emails to different professors and GTL administration, she finally found a professor that was eager and willing to let her participate in undergraduate research. What a typical tech student- ambitious and motivated!

While her weekends do not fall on the same days as most GTL students (she only gets two day weekends and one three day weekend a month), she finds solace in the type of work she gets to take part in each day. Her project involves robotics research called non-destructive testing which uses a robot that moves along metal surfaces to detect if the surfaces have any defects. Most of her day to day work consists of cad modeling for the project, and because she works with three other graduate students, she is able to get feedback when needed.

So far, Sarah is loving her undergraduate research experience. She has hands on work in her chosen field which provides her with great experience for future endeavors. Sarah also mentioned the balance she receives as a result of working at GTL. She is able to work inside of her comfort zone, being surrounded by Georgia Tech students and faculty, but still be pushed a bit outside of her comfort zone while working in a foreign country, France. After talking with Sarah, it’s safe to say that I am a little jealous. While I’m taking tests on the different forms of “to have” in French, she gets to play with robots all day in the lab.

You might be wondering what kind of travel experience one can get while working abroad. Does one even get to travel? While Sarah’s busy schedule is definitely difficult to coordinate with her friends who are taking classes, she still manages to take short weekend trips and make the most of her time.

Her favorite place so far was Barcelona, mostly due to the fact that Gaudi’s stunning MK-Selim1architecture fills the city. While I find Gaudi’s work to be overt and eccentric, Sarah loved his style; “he created floors that weren’t even flat and he just kind of went for it!”. I might not understand Gaudi, but I understand why Sarah loves him so much. He took risks, was ambitious, and broke the mold, just as Sarah took a chance in searching out her undergraduate research at GTL. Well, clearly it paid off – for both Gaudi and Sarah.

Grad Student Profile: Meet Emanuele Testa!

Name: Emanuele Testa

Major/Field of Study: MS ECE

Year in grad school: 1st semester

Partner Institution: University of Brescia

Home Country: Italy

Favorite quote: “(He) who does not risk certainty for uncertainty,
to thus follow a dream,
those who do not forego sound advice at least once in their lives,
die slowly. …”  
from, “Die Slowly” – Martha Medeiros

Favorite Song: “Wish You Were Here” – Pink Floyd

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If you don’t know Emanuele, you’re missing out. And I’m not just saying that because he’s in my group for the CS 4261 app.

Emanuele, unlike many graduate students, hails from Italy, and surprisingly, that comes up more often than you’d think. People tend to think that here at Georgia Tech-Lorraine there are two types of students: French and American – and no deviation. Even I started with this frame of mind, as I introduced myself to him, asking where he was from, and it wasn’t Paris, Lyon, or another French city. We had a presentation in class that narrowed the entire scope of logging into the app based on whether the student was American or French – and I couldn’t help but see if he responded to the exclusion. He’s very gracious about it; it’s not mean spirited – people just don’t know!

At the beginning of our shared computer science class, we had to share our interests to the class to be more comfortable with each other’s interests and skill sets, and I remember even then Emanuele describing his interest in robotics. So then, it’s no surprise that his dream job lies in designing robotic medical machines for tasks like surgery or rehabilitation. It’s also not a surprise that his favorite class is ME 6407 (a.k.a. robotics).

Like I’ve often seen in Europe, a Master’s degree is not seen as optional in some fields – and Emanuele agrees, citing the need to specialize in something. He chose Georgia Tech-Lorraine specifically, though, because we have a dual-degree program with his home university, the University of Brescia. He seems to like his decision, though; when asked for his best recommendation for other graduate students, he recommended attending, describing Georgia Tech-Lorraine as “an amazing opportunity.” As he says, “An American degree definitely makes a difference in your future employment opportunities, [whether] you want to work in Europe or in any other part of the world. It’s a multicultural and creative environment and a great opportunity to improve your English!” His favorite part of Georgia Tech-Lorraine, though? The people, as the “students are very friendly and the staff here is very helpful.”

When he’s not studying or hanging with friends, Emanuele is probably playing the piano, watching the latest awesome movie, or traveling (not such a surprise hobby at Georgia Tech-Lorraine.) His dream destination? Bali, Indonesia.

Mastering Living Abroad: Meet Sarah Malak

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Posted by Julie

Name: Sarah Malak

Major/Field of Study: Masters (soon to be PhD) in Mechanical Engineering

Year in Grad School: 3rd semester

Undergraduate Institution: The University of Akron

What do you want to do with this field? Become a professor.

Why did you choose GTL? It allowed me to attend my favorite university while staying in France.

What research are you pursuing? I am currently doing a project about composites; I will be starting a PhD soon, possibly studying shape memory alloys.

Favorite part of GTL: Having a taste of home here in France.

Best recommendation for other graduate students: Go abroad! Every person should have the experience of living in a country where they don’t speak a word of the language.

Dream destination: To live, the south of France; to visit, Angkor, Cambodia or Bali, Indonesia.

Interests/Hobbies: music (piano, balalaika, Irish fiddle, darbuka, and flute) and dance

 

Moving to France is apparently very, very difficult for non-European Union citizens, but that wasn’t going to stop Sarah Malak, a graduate student here at Georgia Tech-Lorraine. Technically, she’s working at an internship this semester, but she’s still nearby and on campus occasionally – and still living her dream.

Her dream was to not just visit, but live in France, and she stands by her choice, thus supporting her reason why graduate students should study abroad: it is invaluable experience to move to a place where you don’t know a single word, and you have to make that learning curve of learning the basics like “please,” “thank you,” and “excuse me.” All the simple things like buying groceries and ordering fast food become abnormally difficult, but the learning to adapt is the lesson, and one that will be cherished. For her, GTL was a prime choice, as you get a helping hand in coming to Europe with the basics like housing, but you’re “free to learn and grow on your own.”

In fact, she’s learned a lot: she moved here four years ago, and so between living in France and having a French-speaking husband, is basically fluent (you go girl!). Currently, she’s doing the internship segment of her dual-degree with Georgia Tech-Lorraine and ENSAM here in Metz, where she’s studying composites, but when she returns, she’ll finish her Master’s degree, then pursue a PhD studying shape memory alloys. France was a dream destination for Sarah – and still it remains, as she wants to settle in the south of France.

Outside of school, Sarah maintains her extraordinary lifestyle, as a dancer as well as a musician of multiple instruments, the long list including the piano, balalaika, Irish fiddle, darbuka, and flute. Maybe she lost her flute a while back, but some things you just don’t forget.

Spontaneous Graduate Studies and Sock Collecting: Meet J.D.

J.D., visiting the final resting place of General George S. Patton at the Luxembourg American Cemetery

J.D., visiting the final resting place of General George S. Patton at the Luxembourg American Cemetery

Name: J.D. Hill

Major/Field of Study: MS ME

Year in grad school: 1st semester

Undergraduate Institution: Texas A&M

Why did you choose GTL? Spontaneous decision to take on the opportunity

Favorite part of GTL: Traveling and interacting with French graduate students

Best recommendation for other graduate students: Just do it.

Dream destination: Skellig Michael Island, Ireland

Interests/Hobbies: Travelling, country dancing, sock collection

Meet J.D.

He’s a pretty cool guy. Why, do you ask? He’s a graduate student here at Georgia Tech-Lorraine (that’s not the only reason, though; his story is even more interesting). The funny thing is, this is J.D.’s first semester with Georgia Tech, and it’s not on the Atlanta campus. Even funnier? He may never even step foot on the Atlanta campus.

When J.D. graduated as an Aggie of Texas A&M brandishing a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, he already had a job with General Electric working in the oil and gas field. General Electric must care about its employees, as it funds their continuing education: the Edison Development program pays for his Master’s degree. J.D. had the choice between NC State and Georgia Tech, but when it came down to it, he made the (fabulous) choice to be a Yellow Jacket.

After digging deeper into his options at our university, he stumbled across Georgia Tech-Lorraine, and due to great timing with his job, it was an opportunity too good to pass up – even though deadline had sort of already passed him up. Some serious communication and finagling later, he worked to catch up on all the deadlines and was accepted to the program to study his first and only semester on campus at Georgia Tech (albeit, on the French campus).

And now, well, he’s here! Is all of this as great as J.D. expected? He thinks so. J.D. travels a lot, unlike many of the French graduate students, but he still fits in pretty well with them, whom he says are very welcoming and accepting. It’s one of his favorite things about being here (besides the traveling): chatting with and learning French from them.

As you may have guessed, traveling and seeing new things are among his favorite hobbies. His favorite destination he’s checked off was Rome, Italy – he says he could walk around for days, there is so much to do – but he still wants to make it to Skellig Michael Island in Ireland. He does do other things too, though: when he’s not traveling, you can find J.D. stringing up a laundry line to dry the subset of his super cool sock collection that he brought along or country dancing.

What’s in store for J.D. after this semester? He’ll be returning to his job in Oklahoma City, but he hopes to end up in the Dallas/Fort Worth area in Texas. He likes his job currently, as it’s stable, but chose mechanical engineering for its flexibility, so who knows where he’ll end up in the long run? He’s along for the adventure.

His advice for the graduate students contemplating the benefits of a program like Georgia Tech-Lorraine echoes similar sentiments: make like Nike and just do it! The administration is very helpful, and it is a unique opportunity to travel and experience other cultures.

Posted by Ije and Julie

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