Dr. W. Eric Showalter, lecturer in civil, architectural and environmental engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology, has been awarded a Fulbright scholarship grant to lecture for a semester at the Tallinn University of Technology in Estonia beginning in January 2010.
Two U.S. faculty members and four students are traveling to Estonia through the Fulbright Scholar Program this year. Showalter will teach a graduate course in sustainable construction, as well as assist in the development of curriculum within the civil engineering department.
According to Showalter, the academic environment in Estonia is more strict than it is in the United States. “Students are used to professors giving straight lectures,” he says. “They don’t ask questions.”
Showalter intends to introduce group work and class discussions into his lectures.
“Luckily for me, graduate courses are taught in English,” says Showalter. Estonian, as well as Finnish, developed independently from other European languages and is said to be one of the most difficult in the world for English speakers.
Tallinn, located on the Gulf of Finland, contains a mixture of architectural styles. Remains of city walls and structures from several hundred years ago are scattered amid Soviet-style complexes and more modern buildings.
While in Estonia, Showalter expects to guest lecture at a variety of universities and high schools throughout the country. He also intends to visit the neighboring countries of Finland, Sweden and Russia.
Showalter received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from Michigan Technological University in 1984 and 1988, respectively. He earned his doctorate from Purdue University in 1994.
Fulbright Scholars are selected based on their academic or professional achievement and extraordinary leadership potential in their fields. Scholars receive a stipend and travel allowances.
Established in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright Scholar Program is open to both faculty and students. Its primary purpose is to foster understanding between countries.
At Missouri S&T, Showalter is a faculty advisor for campus’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders.
Showalter has started a blog about his upcoming trip. He intends to update the blog regularly from Estonia.