A University of Arizona civil engineering professor is off to Italy to teach and conduct research about earthquake engineering, thanks to the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program. Robert Fleischman is one of eight scholars to receive Fulbright awards for 2018-2019, contributing to the UA's status as the No. 3 top producer of Fulbright scholars among research institutions.
"This ranking is an outstanding reflection of the incredible talent we have here at the University of Arizona, and I could not be prouder of our Fulbright scholars as they share their expertise and collaborate with institutions across the world," said UA President Robert C. Robbins. "The UA's new strategic plan emphasizes the importance of setting the standard as a global university in the digital age, and our Fulbright scholars demonstrate the importance we place on international education and research in the best possible way."
A professor of civil and architectural engineering and mechanics at the UA, Fleischman is one of more than 800 U.S. citizens who will teach, conduct research and provide expertise abroad through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program, the U.S. government's flagship international educational exchange program designed to build lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.
Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 390,000 participants – chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential – with the opportunity to exchange ideas and contribute to solutions for shared international concerns.
In the late 19th century, Fleischman’s great-grandfather was an architect, engineer and builder in southern Italy before he immigrated to the United States. With the receipt of a Fulbright award to Italy, Fleischman is returning to his roots. This month, he is heading to the University of Salento in Lecce for six months to lead an integrated research and teaching program in earthquake engineering.
His teaching program will focus on two tracks: how to build the earthquake-resistant buildings of tomorrow and how to successfully retrofit historic buildings that present a danger to people, particularly in southern Italy. The program will include a seminar series, short courses and a hands-on five-day workshop. The seminars will be available to undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Salento, streamed as a webinar to other universities in Southern Italy and offered to local practicing engineers.
Applying his research on precast concrete, Fleischman will investigate prefabrication methods for the construction of new earthquake-resistant buildings in southern Italy’s urban centers,. He’ll also develop approaches for retrofitting older existing buildings, based on his knowledge of using fiber-reinforced polymers to strengthen beams, arches and columns.
“One of my colleagues in Italy was looking at a building where the bottom was from Roman times, on top of that was a medieval wall, and on top of that was some Renaissance construction,” Fleischman said. “One building had all of this history, with different materials and techniques linking it to the cultural and historical heritage. While I know more about modern construction, my colleague in Italy is an expert on these older buildings, so there’s an opportunity for exchange."
Fleischman is looking forward to expanding his area of study and exposing Italian students to some of the United States’ leading earthquake engineering research.
The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program operates in more than 125 countries throughout the world. In addition, some 4,000 foreign Fulbright students and scholars come to the United States annually to study, lecture, conduct research and teach foreign languages.