A post-communist country on the rise and an aspiring mechanical engineer may have something to gain from each other. Matthew “Jake” Mathey of Baltimore, Maryland, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering, won a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant grant to teach at a university in Poland. 

“Poland’s growing excellence in engineering provides a great platform for both cultural and educational exchange,” Mathey said.

The Fulbright program, which places recent college graduates and young professionals at primary and secondary schools and universities around the world, will allow Mathey to teach science, technology, engineering, and math — the STEM subjects — and advise students. In addition to teaching, Mathey may pursue independent study or research interests.

Mathey at the Kuala Lumpur Tower.
Matthew "Jake" Mathey atop the Kuala Lumpur Tower in Malaysia.

Mathey said Polish university students need improved English language skills in STEM subjects. As Poland's economic influence grows, so does its need for a technologically skilled workforce conversant in English, he said.

Mathey's international experience includes two weeks in Europe as part of the College of Engineering’s Rising Sophomore Abroad Program, and in 2015, he went to Singapore as part of the Rolls Royce International Internship.

Mathey called the Fulbright application process intense. "It’s important to do lots of self-reflection, not only about what you can get out of the program but also what you can contribute.”

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program, a U.S. government effort, has provided more than 100,000 grants since 1948. It is designed to increase mutual understanding among countries.

The Global Education Office, a unit of Outreach and International Affairs, oversees the Fulbright Program at Virginia Tech. For questions or more information on Fulbright opportunities, please contact Betty Watts at 540-231-7220.

Written by Rommelyn Conde Coffren.

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