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K-State Today

December 6, 2016

Fulbright experience expands professor's global perspective

Submitted by Mary Rankin

Stacy Hutchinson, K-State professor of biological and agricultural engineering, recently spent five weeks in Dnipro, Ukraine, as a participant in the Fulbright Specialist Program.

Hosted by the National Mining University, Hutchinson shared technical engineering expertise on surface hydrology, and watershed assessment and management to students and interested faculty. She also conducted teaching workshops on active learning techniques, assessment, engineering accreditation and curriculum design.

"I was able to participate in a mining forum with faculty from across Ukraine and Europe, as well as several meetings on campus with visiting faculty from European universities," Hutchinson said. "I also visited and spoke at a local lyceum, or high school, on water and water security." 

Hutchinson said she received good feedback during her stay from both students and faculty, and believes she made a significant impact on the university.

"I was able to give the technical students some different ideas about environmental quality and methods for potentially realizing these changes in Ukraine," she said. "I assisted many students with learning English, and also helped show how the U.S. engineering accreditation process could assist Ukraine in connecting education and industry, as well as improve academic mobility for its students."

By sharing American culture, education, ideals and friendship, Hutchinson believes she showed a very positive side of America and even helped to "make the world a little bit smaller."

As part of a continuing collaboration with the Fulbright project, Hutchinson is currently working on a NATO Science for Peace and Security research proposal with three research faculty at the National Mining University.

"There are several topics of interest within our group, and we plan to search for appropriate funding to realize the work and continue our collaboration," Hutchinson said.

"I am also in contact with the English language department there and will continue to assist with language training as a native speaker a few times a semester using Skype. We also are exploring ways to connect different departments at Kansas State and National Mining University, to include the English language program and physical education department."

Hutchinson plans to continue professional relationships with faculty there in English, ecology, hydrogeology and mathematics. She also is working to connect the lyceum with a local environmental education group to help U.S. students learn more about global environmental issues, while assisting Ukrainian students in English studies.

"One of my favorite things about working and traveling abroad," she said, "is realizing how similar we are across the globe — basic life needs do not change, basic education does not change. Exploring the differences is what I truly enjoy — the teaching styles and methods, the work day, the food, the grocery store."

"This trip was amazing for expanding my beliefs about people. I was treated very well and the people were happy to share their city, their culture, their thoughts and their hopes. I learned a lot about Ukraine — the wonderful people, their need for better leadership and their great desire to create a more prosperous country. I definitely feel like I increased my cultural competence and moved toward being a global citizen."

Hutchinson joined the faculty in the biological and agricultural engineering department in 2000. Her areas of research focus include the use of vegetated systems for mitigation of nonpoint source pollution, development of sustainable stormwater and land management techniques, and remediation of contaminated soil and water.

She completed her master's and doctoral degrees at Kansas State University, and her bachelor's degree from Montana State University, all in civil engineering.