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Addis Kidane is heading home

CEC professor will research in Ethiopia through Fulbright Scholars Program

By: Samantha Winn | August 7, 2019

It’s come full circle for Addis Kidane.

In less than a month, his family will start a 7,501 mile journey to Ethiopia. What’s ahead for the UofSC mechanical engineering associate professor is a year’s worth of research funded by the Fulbright Scholar Program, mentoring at Addis Ababa Institute of Technology, a grant to continue his research into composite materials, and the chance to return home.

His journey to becoming a Fulbright Scholar started over a year ago with some personal research and an unknown sabbatical timeline. With some risks, Kidane sent in the first proposal to the Fulbright program. This would start a long acceptance process.

“I asked a lot of people about the application process and they said it was tough,” he says. “They said that I wouldn’t get it at the first try and that applying for my sabbatical at the same time without knowing for sure about the Fulbright was risky.”

Slowly, though, the program acceptances rolled in over the course of a six-month period. It came in stages: from the Fulbright program, then the university, and finally by various government agencies. It was a long, arduous process for Kidane that luckily worked out.

“It’s not one-time happiness,” he says of the process. “The whole time I’m happy, but at the same time uncertain. It just kept me always wanting that final letter and once I got that letter, I was happy.”

With the hardest part behind him, Kidane was able to make the easy decision to return home to Ethiopia for the next year.

“It’s a big achievement and as a Fulbright, I am going to join a lot of important people. There’s so many Nobel Prize winners, so many big people and adding myself to that list is unbelievable. It just means a lot.”

Addis Kidane

“For me, it was straightforward,” he says. “I know the language, I know the culture, and I know the school system. I grew up and I went to college there, so I know what needs to be added, what’s missing and how to add to it. As my first Fulbright, I thought that this would be the most efficient way to give back.”

In Ethiopia, Kidane plans to continue his research on the dynamic behaviors of composite materials. The focus of his research is in the design process to determine what materials can best withstand different levels of impact from things such as explosives. Currently, he is using this technology in body armor, dental implants, tennis shoes and more.

As a part of the Fulbright Program, he is bringing two digital image correlation systems to Ethiopia to continue furthering his research and to expose the students there to it. These educational systems were provided to him for free by Correlated Solutions, a digital image correlations company in Columbia. Digital Image correlation use optical cameras and image processing algorithms to measure deformation in any structure subjected to loading. Large and well-known companies such as Goodyear, Airbus, Boeing and NASA use this technology.

Throughout his year-long sabbatical, he plans to teach students at Addis Ababa Institute of Technology Experimental Mechanics including how to use the digital image correlation systems so that when he leaves, they can continue using the donated systems for education and   research.

“We have a lot of things that we take here for granted, and they don’t have it there, so they are really excited about it,” he says.

Kidane knows that this chance to return home with his kids and to give back to the community that gave him so much is a once in a lifetime opportunity. And he is thankful for the Fulbright Scholar Program allowing all of this to happen.

“It’s a big achievement and as a Fulbright, I am going to join a lot of important people,” he says. “There’s so many Nobel Prize winners, so many big people and adding myself to that list is unbelievable. It just means a lot.”

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