Florida Poly Fulbright program spurs academic, professional successes

Mar 07, 2024
Michael Petry

Michael Petry completed his master’s degree in engineering at Florida Polytechnic University as a Fulbright Fellow from Germany. He is now completing an industrial Ph.D. at the Technical University of Munich and Airbus Defense and Space.

Florida Polytechnic University began building relationships with nations around the world through the international Fulbright program when it opened its doors 10 years ago.

Since then, its Fulbright involvement has not only grown, but delivered professional and academic successes for the foreign students and scholars working at the Lakeland university, and for the Florida Poly students traveling elsewhere for their education.

“We have been very fortunate to establish strong international Fulbright relationships and host outstanding Fulbright scholars, each of whom is destined to achieve wonderful things,” said Mustapha Achoubane, senior advisor for international relationships at Florida Poly. “Our university is proud of the role we play in furthering their success.”

To date, Florida Poly has hosted 22 international Fulbright Fellows, Killam Fellows, Senior Scholars, and Charlemagne Prize Fellows from seven countries. Additionally, five Florida Poly students have studied in Canada as Killam Fellows, and one faculty member has worked internationally as a Fulbright Specialist. 

For former German Fulbright Fellow Michael Petry, the experience of completing his master’s degree in engineering on an electrical engineering track at Florida Poly was foundational for his future studies, he said. 

“I am now researching signal processing methods that use artificial intelligence or machine learning for enhancing satellite communications,” said Petry, who is pursuing an industrial Ph.D. at the Technical University of Munich and Airbus Defense and Space. “I’m working on a government-funded research project funded by the German Aerospace Center, and together with a team at Airbus, we are developing a new processor on spacecraft that can also accommodate machine learning.”

The effort will result in the development of a new hardware platform that will allow satellites to directly provide 5G technology and perform necessary processing in space, he said.

“I got a lot out of Fulbright,” he said. “I got accepted into a Ph.D. program at a top-grad University, which is not easy, and you get access to the Fulbright network of about 50,000 academics who you can reach out to and see if they can help you.”

For Florida Poly junior Matthew Deltano, his experience this semester as a Killam Fellow at York University in Toronto, Canada, ­has been eye-opening.

“I thought it would be a good experience to broaden my horizons and meet a lot of different people from a lot of different places,” the computer science major said. “York has a significant international student population and it’s been great meeting them and getting their perspectives on their different programs, especially since Florida Poly is smaller and only STEM focused.”

The window into the more traditional large university environment has been interesting, he said, and he’s happy to have the experience to add to his resume.

“It’s definitely a prestigious honor and I’m having the opportunity to show off my academic success at Florida Poly here,” Deltano said. “This is going to be a big benefit to my future career search.”

The future is typically bright for Fulbrighters, many of whom have served as heads of state or been awarded the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, or MacArthur Foundation Fellowships. Many others become leaders in academia and industry.­­

But it all starts with an international educational exchange.

“The cultural and the knowledge one gains from jumping in the cold water and trying to work your way through situations is good for personal development,” Petry said. “It makes new situations much easier if you make it through Fulbright.”

Florida Poly Fulbright and Charlemagne Fellows

Florida Polytechnic University has hosted Fulbright and Charlamagne Fellows from several countries. Clockwise from top left, they are Aksiniia Serdtseva, Alexander Burkhart, Benjamin Stark, Clinton Elliott, Constanze Knahl, Jan Hery, Zubaidah Al Mashhadani, Tom Mann, Sabine Kressens, Michael Theiler, Michael Petry and Marius Brinkman.

Fulbright Senior Scholars and Specialist

Florida Polytechnic University has both hosted foreign researchers and seen a faculty member research as a Fulbright Specialist. Clockwise from top left, they are Dr. Alejandro Rolan Blanco, Dr. Alex Frino, Dr. Fernando Gonzalez Fermoso, Dr. Jing Jiang, Dr. Luis Alonso, Prof. Wenfang Xie, Prof. Rajamani Doriaswami, Prof. Jasmina Casals-Terre, and Fulbright Specialist Dr. Sesha Srinivasan.

Florida Poly Killam Fellows

Several students from Florida Polytechnic University have studied at Canadian universities as Killam Fellows through the Fulbright Canada program. Two students, Sophie Hayes and Peter Akioyamen studied at Florida Poly as Canadian Killam Scholars. Clockwise from top left, the students are Bobby Acacio, Ecieno Carmona, Celeste Ramirez, Matthew Deltano, Hayes, Shane Holmes, and Akioyamen.


Lydia Guzmán
Director of Communications