Transatlantic Engineering Prize

Belarusian Valentin Ivanov has become the third non-American winner of prestigious American prize
Professors representing universities across the globe have been selected to receive SAE International’s Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award during the SAE 2006 World Congress in Detroit, April 3-6. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) calls itself the premier membership society dedicated to advancing mobility engineering worldwide. The award, established in 1965, recognizes outstanding engineering educators and offers them the opportunity to meet and exchange views with practicing engineers in their fields. 

Assistant professor of the department of automobiles of Belarusian Technical University Valentin Ivanov was one of the awardees. Quite an achievement in a country where they say a half of all Americans were born in a car. The laureate believes not only his personal teaching attainments, but also the specific system of research work typical of this country is to “blame”. Americans seem to be quite interested in non-American experiences here.

“The Belarusian system of higher education is peculiar, because it gets an immense support from the state, which is uncharacteristic of western universities, which need to sign profitable contracts with companies and research institutes in order to provide funding for researchers,” Valentin Ivanov tells me. “In the West the success of each particular contract depends a lot on the head of department and the dean, that is, the personality factor.”

I believe the example of the Belarusian scholar is quite significant, as it clearly proves that our scientists may take an active part in international contests and western colleagues get more interested in Belarusian education.

What can we do to balance between turning into the supplier of brains to richer countries and isolating ourselves from the world? Valentin Ivanov cites the example of his own university. The people that achieve something in science often go on business trips and take part in international forums in order to inform potential partners about the achievements of Belarusian researchers. “I know that to have a powerful automobile unit of the High-Tech Park of Belarus the government plans to engage the research facility of the Academy of Sciences. I believe we will be able to show the world our potential and attract foreign partners to the High-Tech Park,” Valentin Ivanov concludes.

I fully agree that it was worth crossing the ocean to strip the Americans of their most prestigious prize.

by Dmitry Semizhon
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