Global Fellows Vicky Tian and Tamas Kovacs Describe Their Work in Nicaragua and The Philippines
|ORIE students Vicky Tian and Tamas Kovacs with interim dean Christopher Ober at the recognition ceremony.|
Junior Vicky Tian and graduating senior Tamas Kovacs are among four Engineering Global Fellows in ORIE this year. The Engineering Global Fellows program recognizes students who have significant work, volunteer, research or study experience outside of the United States and their country of origin. Tian traveled to Nicaragua with the 7 members of the 12 person Solar Oven Team, and Kovacs spent a summer at the offices of Emerson Electric in Manila, The Philippines.
"Before the trip, I had never used a drill or a saw," Tian said in a brief talk at the April 23 recognition ceremony. "Now I would call myself a professional carpenter," she added with a smile. "Technical skills aside, I also learned so much from the people there."
The Solar Oven Team, led by Tim Bond, has been working on designing and building a solar cooker for use in remote areas such as the mountain town of Totogalpa, Nicaragua. The project, organized as a class called "Engineers for a Sustainable World," dealt with analysis, design and construction of the ovens, built two large units while in Nacaragua. Another unit built by the team was demonstrated on Ho Plaza on Earth Day 2009.
Tian expects to use her Cornell education to "collaborate with people from all kinds of backgrounds, to expand my world view, and one day to become a social entrepreneur," she told the group at the recognition ceremony. In addition to her international experience in Nicaragua, Tian, who is from New York City, spent a semester at Ecole Centrale Paris, a school that has established a collaborative relationship with Cornell.
|Tamas Kovacs in a village on the Philippino island of Bohol that purports to have the largest python in the country, pictured here not long after feasting on a live wild boar.|
For Kovacs, spending a summer working for Emerson Electric was not a new experience. He had worked at the company's offices in St. Louis (his home town) in 2007, but when invited to spend a second summer with Emerson he said "surely, but seeing that I've lived in St. Louis all my life, can you send me elsewhere?" So the company (whose emeritus chairman Charles F. Knight '57 graduated from a predescessor of ORIE) sent him to Manila as a Corporate Planning and Finance Engineer. In that capacity he was asked to plan the assignment of workers in the new Global Materials Data Center, which houses customer service representatives. During the summer he developed an Excel-based algorithm to optimally allocate seating space, basing representatives working with comparable clientele close together and developing a shift strategy for the unit, which fields requests from all over the world.
"Between the real-world experience, the lasting friendships, the scenery and the food, I'd say this was one of the most unique and rewarding experiences I have had," Kovacs wrote for a poster displayed at the ceremony. He will enter the M.Eng. program in Civil and Environmental Engineering in the fall, and hopes to eventually get an MBA.
Kovacs is a second generation Cornell engineer. Growing up, his father, Sandor Kovacs '69, had a different kind of global experience. He was born in Hungary, leaving with his family on foot after the unsuccessful Hungarian Revolution, immigrating to the US in 1959 and eventually getting a PhD in theoretical physics at the California Institute of Technology before becoming a cardiologist and professor at Washington University in St. Louis.
Other ORIE students who will receive certificates, but were unable to attend the ceremony, are Fanhao (Marcus) Meng and Eun Gi Chung.