Students chosen as Fulbright Scholars

This year, a three Tech students were accepted into the Fulbright Scholarship program for either research or teaching positions. Cole Simpson, MS in ME, and Ayanda Francis, EIA ‘14, agreed to sit down with the Technique to discuss everything from childhood goals, application difficulties and swimming with Bob Marley’s family.

Technique: What was your major and why did you choose that one?

Simpson: I have a BS in mechanical engineering from GT as well as a BA in music with a minor in mathematics from Emory University as a result of a joint degree program between the two schools.  I am now working on an MS in mechanical engineering at GT.

I chose mechanical engineering because I was very undecided about what I wanted to do long-term, but knew that I wanted to create new things and that I enjoyed mechanics from physics, so I decided to give it a try!

Francis: My major was Economics and International affairs, and I kind of stumbled upon it honestly! I ended up EIA with minors in French and Korean. I loved the major and minors though! I’m glad I switched.

Technique: What do you hope to do with your degree after the Fulbright program?

Simpson: After my Fulbright year, I intend to pursue a PhD in mechanical or bio-engineering at a top ranked engineering school supported by a graduate research fellowship from NSF.  Afterwards, I would like to pursue international post-doctoral research positions.  From there, who knows?

Francis: Well, I’m actually already contracted to work at the State Department so the timeline basically goes Fulbright, Columbia for grad school, then the State Department as a diplomat.

Technique: What did you want to be when you grew up as a child?

Simpson: I never knew what I wanted to do when I grew up.  I still don’t!

Francis: I had about 57 million options, but I think neurogeneticist, buyer for a fashion house, chief editor of a publishing company, and producer for shows on Broadway werre my top choices.

Technique: What was your most memorable moment from your time at Tech?

Simpson: While studying at Georgia Tech Lorraine, a group of friends and I travelled to Edinburgh, Scotland to participate in the first Tough Mudder competition in Scotland.  The Tough Mudder is a 12-mile special forces inspired obstacle course.  We grew mustaches for the event, which turned out to be a bad idea…

Technique: Why did you decide to apply to the Fulbright program?

Francis: Well, I have always wanted to go to Turkey but never had the opportunity to do so.

Technique: What was the easiest part of the applying process? The most nerve wracking part?

Simpson: The easiest part was deciding where to apply.  Switzerland has many top notch programs and dedicates tons of resources for scientific research.

I also already had connections with both the school and the professor with whom I will be working.

Francis: I have to say the statement of purpose is the most difficult. You have a very limited space to try and fit in a lot of information.

Technique: What part of the program are you looking forward to the most?

Simpson: I am most looking forward to taking advantage of the natural beauty of Switzerland through hiking, biking, kayaking, etc.  I am also looking forward to working with one of the leading experts in the world in robotics.

Francis: The interactions with the community! I want to use this opportunity to get a feel for Turkey and the region as a whole, so I look forward to doing all the cultural things.

Technique: Is there a part you are dreading? If so, what?

Simpson: I am worried about not knowing anyone in Switzerland, but I hope I’ll make local friends quickly!

Francis: The acclimation part! There’s always jet lag, and since this is my first time in Turkey, culture shock. I also don’t speak Turkish, so it’ll be a bit tricky to do daily things until I can handle at least basic conversations in Turkish.

Technique: What is the most interesting fact about you?

Francis: I don’t know how interesting this is, but I lived in Jamaica when I was younger and I went swimming with Bob Marley’s grandchildren once.