International students take to the skies


October 12, 2009

It’s a long way to go for pilot training, but 17 Japanese aviation students from J.F. Oberlin University in Tokyo are beginning a specialized aviation program at Arizona State University at the Polytechnic campus this year. 

The students are part of a new 1+2+1 academic partnership between Oberlin University and ASU to help meet the growing demand for well-educated and well-trained pilots in Japan. Download Full Image

“The students have completed the first year of an aviation program at Oberlin University and will be taking two years of our professional pilot program here at ASU,” said Dr. William McCurry, a professor in the Aeronautics Management Technology program at ASU who, along with Dr. Merrill Karp, was instrumental in establishing the agreement with Oberlin.

ASU’s College of Technology and Innovation has a world-class aviation program that currently attracts students from all over the country. This is the first such arrangement with an international university.

“One of the things that is very attractive to our students is the Airline Bridge Program, in which the pilot training part of the program is carried out in partnership with Mesa Pilot Development, a unit of Mesa Air Group, preparing them for careers in the airline industry,” said Jimmy Kimberly, aeronautics faculty member and the Oberlin student coordinator at ASU.

The Oberlin students’ curriculum is similar to the existing program between ASU and Mesa Pilot Development. However, the Japanese students’ course of study will fulfill both U.S. and Japanese flight training requirements. 

In preparation for the coursework, the students are enrolled in an intensive eight-week English language course. Following successful completion and passing the TOEFL English proficiency test, they will begin their fall courses on Oct. 12.

Aviation instructors with ASU and Mesa Pilot Development have also been preparing for the challenges of teaching a large group of international students. According to Kimberly, they participated in a cultural workshop on Sept. 21.

Students will finish their studies, having received FAA certification on private, commercial and multi-engine aircraft, as well as Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) certification for commercial and multi-engine aircraft. The students have already completed their written exams for JACB certification after a year of English and aeronautics courses at Oberlin. They will complete the flight tests at ASU.

The students from Oberlin will spend several hours using various flight simulators prior to making their first flights in mid to late October.

Despite the challenges of studying abroad, the students are enthusiastic. “Since I was a child, it has always been my dream to be a pilot,” said Mai Suzuki, the only female student of the group, who dates her love of flying back to family trips.

The students are enjoying the opportunity to broaden their cultural horizons as well. Tasuku Maki went tubing on the Salt River, an experience that he called “fantastic,” and he and others watched the Sun Devils beat Louisiana-Monroe on Sept. 19.

What do they think of Arizona so far? The answer was unanimous: “Hot!”

Kari Stallcop, (480) 727-1173
Public Affairs at ASU Polytechnic campus

'Twig light' project receives NCIIA funding


October 12, 2009

The National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA) recently awarded ASU College of Technology and Innovation professors Brad Rogers and Mark Henderson $16,000 to finalize the design of a device meant to bring electric light to villages in rural Africa. The project is part of the GlobalResolve social entrepreneurship initiative at ASU.

The device, called the “Twig Light,” was invented by graduate student Michael Pugliese, and consists of a wafer-thin thermoelectric generator sandwiched between a combustion chamber and a heat sink. To generate electricity, the heat sink is placed in a shallow pool of water to keep it cool, while small twigs are burned in the upper combustion chamber for heat. Download Full Image

“The temperature difference powers the generator, producing 5 volts of electricity – enough to run a bank of LEDs that can light a room,” said Pugliese, a mechanical engineering technology major.

A prototype of the Twig Light was demonstrated during the summer in the village of Domeabra, Ghana, where the residents received it with enthusiasm.

“We have received great support and comments about the Twig Light,” said ASU engineering technology professor Rogers. Rogers is the director of research and development for GlobalResolve, which sponsored the Twig Light’s development. “We left nine lights in Ghana for evaluation so that we can get comments and critique on their use.”

The lack of lighting in the village is one of their biggest problems, according to Pugliese. Central electricity is often expensive and unreliable in developing countries.

The Twig Light was developed as a project in a class in Village Energy Systems taught by Rogers for engineering and engineering technology students at the Polytechnic campus this past spring. The course focuses on design for extreme affordability – in other words, designing devices that are both useful and affordable for people living on only a few hundred dollars a year.

“There are no moving parts inside the generator, and most of the components can be manufactured and assembled locally in Africa,” said Pugliese. “The Twig Light can run on any readily available fuel. It can generate electricity from wood chips, twigs, ethanol or even coals from a cooking fire.”

Pugliese’s Twig Light design eventually will include multiple attachments to use electricity the device generates to run cell phone chargers and other electrical devices as well as produce light.

For now, Pugliese is working with Rogers and Henderson on an alternate design with improved reliability and lower manufacturing costs. He hopes to have the new design completed by the end of October and will be presenting it at the NCIIA’s 14th annual conference in March 2010.

His ultimate goal is to produce a simple, affordable and reliable design that will be assembled in the same rural villages where it is used, providing sustainable economic development in addition to light. The group is currently investigating companies in Ghana that can oversee production and marketing of the light for Africa.

“Buying products made overseas won’t help the villagers in impoverished areas,” he said. “We have to give them something that they can use to stimulate their economy.”

Kari Stallcop, (480) 727-1173
Public Affairs at ASU Polytechnic campus