Published on Tuesday March 20, 2007
MSE Ph.D. student Aaron Sakulich (advisor: Dr. Michel Barsoum) has been selected as a Fulbright student grantee to Morocco. Aaron is the first Drexel MSE student to receive a J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship while enrolled as a student in the department.
Sponsored by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Fulbright Program provides funding for students, scholars, teachers, and professionals to undertake graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and teaching in elementary and secondary schools. According to its Web site, the Fulbright program is designed to increase mutual understanding between the peoples of the United States and the people of other countries.
Aaron no doubt will live up to the program’s expectations. He has been awarded the Critical Language Enhancement Award, part of the National Security Language Initiative, which grants him acceptance into a five-week intensive language training program in Moroccan Arabic. He will leave for Morocco in July, where he will live for approximately one year. During his time in Morocco, he will be working at the University Hassan II-Mohammedia near Casablanca. The institution is known to be one of the premier science institutes in the Arab world and is located in the largest city and financial center of the country. While there, he will continue his research that he has conducted at Drexel with Professor Michel Barsoum: developing simple, low-cost, natural building materials to help developing countries care for their population.
“Africa has a distinct need for an easy to make, cheap, environmentally friendly alternative to traditional cement,” Aaron says. “While in Morocco, I hope to move from making and testing formulae in a lab environment to accelerated testing and characterization, and finally to field testing the material I develop for use as a building material.” The location and climate of Morocco will be especially conducive to research of materials for an alternative to cement and will shed light on areas of success and improvement in his project, he adds.
Aaron applied for the program in Morocco because he minored in French while at Drexel. In addition, the opportunity to travel around Africa was an important factor. At the end of the program, he plans to spend a few months traveling and sightseeing.
“I’ve heard that North Africa has some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, and after seven years of living in the city, a change of atmosphere really appealed to me,” says Aaron. “I also hope to gain a broader cultural understanding. I think most of the world’s largest problems stem from groups of people not understanding each other. That said, my goal is that this project I am working on will help build a better world for the international community as a whole.”