Graduating seniors Brooks Leftwich and Jackson Wilt have received Fulbright Awards and will be spending the 2020-21 academic year abroad teaching and doing research.
Administered by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State, the Fulbright US Student Program offers about 2,100 total awards across more than 140 countries.
Leftwich, of Lewisburg, Tennessee, was selected for the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Taiwan, where he’ll spend the year collaborating with educators in the classroom to facilitate English language lessons.
He will be graduating Summa Cum Laude in May with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering with honors and minor in reliability and maintainability engineering.
“I feel very blessed and thankful to be selected for this position and I am excited to bring my experiences from the University of Tennessee with me,” Leftwich said.
Leftwich is part of the Cook Grand Challenge Scholars and Chancellor’s Honors Programs and has been awarded the Extraordinary Academic Achievement graduation citation. Past awards he has received include the Henry C. Goodwich Cooperative Engineering Award and the Christopher Dowdle Memorial Scholarship.
During his time at UT, Leftwich has served as an ambassador for the Tickle College of Engineering’s Office of Engineering Professional Practice, Student Code of Conduct Review Committee member, student ambassador for the university, Ignite Team Leader, Delta Tau Delta officer, and a mentor at several Knoxville area elementary schools.
Leftwich’s research project, Montgomery 1960: Using Technology to Teach Empathy and Perspective Taking, was accepted to the American Historical Association 2020 Annual Conference, the Association of Student Conduct Administrators 2020 Annual Conference, and the Association of Student Personnel Administrators 2020 Annual Conference.
In 2017, he participated in UT’s Honors and Scholars study abroad program and spent the summer in England studying “The Quest for Meaning,” which inspired him to live intentionally in every moment and take advantage of each second. He also completed a year-long co-op assignment as a process engineer at the Nissan Smyrna Vehicle Assembly Plant, where he worked on the front-end assembly of the Altima and Leaf.
After completing the Fulbright assistantship, Leftwich hopes to gain industry experience and then pursue a graduate degree in engineering education.
“UT has opened countless doors and provided outstanding opportunities to grow and challenge myself every step of the way,” Leftwich said. “I would not be where I am today without the education I received in the MABE department. I have gained invaluable experience that has prepared me for whatever the future holds.”
Wilt, of Goodlettsville, Tennessee, was selected for the Fulbright Open Study/Research Fellowship in Amsterdam where he’ll be conducting research at the University of Amsterdam.
He will be graduating Magna Cum Laude in May with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering with honors.
Wilt’s research in Amsterdam will focus on 3D printing soft pneumatic devices for medical purposes, specifically for artificial hearts. He also plans to implement machine learning to better understand the control of hyperplastic materials in the devices.
“The Fulbright will give me the opportunity to participate in this global health project that will require scientific cooperation across international lines,” Wilt said. “I will be able to bring my experiences gathered at UC Berkeley, UT, and ORNL to contribute to the project. I also hope to represent an ambassador exemplifying and demonstrating American ideals abroad.”
At UT, Wilt’s hard work resulted in several awards including the ASME Sylvia W. Farny Scholarship, a Merit Research Award at the 24th Annual Exhibition of Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement, and a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Award honorable mention.
Wilt worked in Assistant Professor Brett Compton’s research group, and was a very active member and treasurer of the Engineering Mentor Program and American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He interned at ORNL through the Department of Energy’s Student Undergraduate Laboratory Internship Program, and spent last summer as a student researcher at UC Berkeley. He also participated in the SLOPE program by demonstrating 3D printing technology to children to improve understanding of basic science and engineering principles, a concept he plans to continue at the NEMO Science Museum, community centers, and children’s hospitals in Amsterdam.
After completing the Fulbright appointment, Wilt plans to pursue his doctorate degree in mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University and continue working on advanced manufacturing techniques for creating multifunctional soft robotic systems. He is preparing to have a career in academia, but will ultimately choose a career path that will have the most benefit to human condition.
“I want to thank my friends, family, and mentors who have been integral to my learning and development throughout my time at UT,” Wilt said. “I also feel it is imperative to acknowledge my privilege and express my admiration for marginalized groups who have done more with much less.”