The hands-on opportunities at Cal Poly stand out most for two professors visiting from Indonesia this quarter.
“If you have labs and great facilities, it’s easier to teach and easier for students to practice,” said Onny Setyawati, a Fulbright Scholar from Brawijaya University. “Normally, we ask our students to simulate something instead of using hardware.”
Setyawati and Alfredo Bayu Satriya, of the University of Jember, have been conducting research at Cal Poly this quarter, thanks to Electrical Engineering Professor Taufik, who grew up in Indonesia.
Taufik – who, like many others in his homeland, has just one name – frequently returns to Indonesia.
“And when I’m there, I usually visit universities,” he said.
Since 2012, Taufik has recruited fellow academics to come to Cal Poly for shared experiences. Last year, he brought three visitors.
“I’m hoping when they go back, they put in a good word about Cal Poly so we can get more – not just for the electrical engineering department, but others as well,” said Taufik, who was recently one of three faculty members campus-wide to receive the Distinguished Scholarship Award from President Armstrong. “The goal is to strengthen international partnerships.”
Setyawati is researching energy harvesting systems to power small devices while Satriya, who is an Islamic Development Bank scholar, is interested in researching health care applications, including non-contact tools to detect the human heartbeat.
“Usually, with medical tools, if you want to know about your heartbeat, you have to put something on your chest,” he said. “To make it non-contact means you need a wireless system.”
Like Setyawati, Satriya was surprised by the Learn by Doing approach he witnessed during his 2-month visit.
“I had training with first-year students, and they already know how to use the instruments,” he said. “Wow. That’s great. At my university, the graduate student doesn’t always know how to operate the instruments, but here the freshman already knows.”
The importance of industry connections at Cal Poly is also very important, the visiting faculty noticed.
“I think it’s because they have many alumni from Cal Poly that work in the companies,” said Setyawati, who is here on a 3-month visit. “They have very good relationships.”
When she returns to Indonesia, she added, that’s one thing she hopes to take back.
“I hope we can do more collaborations with our alumni,” she said. “It might not be easy, but it is something that we should strive to improve.”