Mechanical Engineering's Smitesh Bakrania receives Fulbright award to New Zealand

Mechanical Engineering's Smitesh Bakrania receives Fulbright award to New Zealand

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The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program awarded Dr. Smitesh Bakrania, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Rowan University, a grant to continue his research on innovative teaching practices and improving engineering education in New Zealand.

Operating in more than 150 countries, the Fulbright Program’s mission is to support innovation, creativity and knowledge that transcends borders and fosters peaceful relations between the people of the United States and other countries. Since its inception in 1946, the program has provided funding to approximately 300,000 students, faculty and other professionals to study, teach and conduct research, according to the organization.

Since 2010, Bakrania has developed apps for iPhones and iPads to help connect with students in his classroom. His app “Pikme,” which allows professors to randomly select a student to answer a question, has had more than 30,000 downloads.

Bakrania began tracking feedback from Pikme and determined the opportunity for a greater impact.

“I wanted to take these apps and share them within a new environment and see how they impact students,” Bakrania said.

The Fulbright award will take Bakrania to New Zealand in 2018, where he will team up with engineering professors at Auckland University of Technology. In 2010, New Zealand established the Engineering Education-to-Employment (E2E) program with the goal to increase engineering graduates to 500 by 2017. With this government initiative in place and its similarities to Rowan, Bakrania felt AUT was the perfect fit for the partnership.

At AUT, Bakrania will teach nanotechnology to postgraduate students, utilizing his apps in the classroom as professors observe. Bakrania will partner with AUT professors to explore ways to implement his app into their instructions.

“It’s honestly exhilarating,” he said on receiving the award. Bakrania, who has never traveled to New Zealand, said he is looking forward to the immersive experience and bringing back new ideas to Rowan.

Bakrania, originally from Tanzania, began his career at Rowan in 2008 and teaches thermal-fluid sciences in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

He is the third professor in the Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering to receive a Fulbright scholarship, following Dr. Stephanie Farrell, Chemical Engineering, and Dr. Kauser Jahan, Civil and Environmental Engineering.

“Dr. Bakrania’s work in developing innovative teaching tools has had tremendous impact on our students at Rowan University and has been gaining notice around the world. This Fulbright award is truly an outstanding recognition of the innovative and impactful nature of his work, and we are excited that he will be able to extend his work and expand his offerings around the globe,” said Dr. Anthony Lowman, dean of the Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering.