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WVU Tech Fulbright grant recipient to focus on engineering education exchange in Nepal

Dr. Yogendra Panta displays a prototype device in a laboratory at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

Dr. Yogendra Panta is a phenomenal engineer. In his time at WVU Tech, the mechanical engineering professor has worked on everything from wind turbines on campus to jet engine projects at the NASA Glenn Research Center.

But there’s another, much older, passion that drives his expertise: education. Panta grew up in Nepal, where he took to classroom learning like a fish to water. He started teaching high schoolers as soon as he finished the tenth grade. He taught college courses at his university alma mater, then carved out near two decades of instructing career that took him all the way to Beckley, West Virginia.

Now he’s looking to return to the source of his educational inspiration. Only this time, he does so as a faculty recipient of a grant from the prestigious Fulbright Program.

“I am greatly honored to receive the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program Award from The U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship. It will be such a great privilege to represent WVU Tech in my abroad scholarship mission,” he said.

The grant will allow Panta to work at the Tribhuvan University - Institute of Engineering’s Pulchowk Campus in Lalitpur, Nepal, to explore and exchange methodologies for teaching, mentoring and research in engineering.

“Our collaboration will concentrate on capacity development in teaching and research, with a focus on implementation of effective teaching techniques and tools and their impacts on the teaching and learning process,” he said.

Panta received word that his grant was approved back in March after a rigorous application and selection process. He planned to spend the fall in Nepal, but the global COVID-19 pandemic pushed his work back until May 2021.

At that point, Panta will work with faculty cohorts at the Institute and host workshops to share teaching techniques, best practices and innovation in engineering education. It’s an effort he hopes will produce valuable lessons in evidence-based teaching and active learning among faculty.

“I think the most important benefit of this great competitive program is to get an opportunity for college and university faculty and for other professionals to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries,” he said.

“This opportunity will give me a greater understanding and experience of Nepalese engineering education and progressing culture that is valuable to share with WVU Tech students and colleagues, thus broadening the impact of this project. I am optimistic that this holistic approach will make me a more responsible professor to my students and colleague to my peers.”

And though current events threw the researcher a curveball, he’s still eagerly planning and excited by the prospect of bringing together his worlds of engineering and education; his homes in Asia and America.

“It is very exciting and emotionally connecting for me to go back to Nepal for this special mission. It is always a pleasure and a gratification to give back to a community that gave me a lot. I feel fortunate to contribute back to my birth country where I was educated until my bachelor’s. I look forward to sharing and learning greatly from commonalities and from the challenges in Nepal and the United States, especially the state of West Virginia,” he said.

About the Fulbright Program
The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to forge lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries, counter misunderstandings, and help people and nations work together toward common goals. Since its establishment in 1946, the Fulbright Program has enabled more than 390,000 dedicated and accomplished students, scholars, artists, teachers, and professionals of all backgrounds to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and find solutions to shared international concerns. The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the Program, which operates in more than 160 countries worldwide.

Fulbrighters address critical global challenges in all disciplines while building relationships, knowledge, and leadership in support of the long-term interests of the United States.  Fulbright alumni have achieved distinction in many fields, including 60 who have been awarded the Nobel Prize, 86 who have received Pulitzer Prizes, and 37 who have served as a head of state or government.

In the United States, the Institute of International Education supports the implementation of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program on behalf of the U.S. Department of State, including conducting an annual competition for the scholarships.     
 
For more information about the Fulbright Program, visit http://eca.state.gov/fulbright.

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