U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- The permanent professor and head of the Astronautics Department here will travel to Singapore's Nanyang Technological University in August to teach undergraduate courses and conduct research in Nanyang's Satellite Research Centre.
Col. Marty France was selected as a Fulbright Scholar in March by the U.S. State Department.
"In some ways, I'll be serving the same role to their small satellite program that I do here with FalconSAT," France said. "I'm looking forward to seeing how a university of Nanyang's stature operates firsthand."
Dr. Low Kay Soon, director of Nanyang's Satellite Research Centre, said he's likewise looking forward to France's visit. In an invitation letter, Low wrote that France's experience with the design, build, test, launch and operation phases of small satellites and five sounding rockets will offer good lessons for the SaRC's students and faculty.
"In this visit, Dr. France and I will discuss future collaboration," Low said via a July 30 email conversation. "We will explore approaches to elevate the collaboration to a higher level."
Low said he hopes to learn from France's experience at the Air Force Academy to consider space courses that Nanyang could offer, considering that Singapore does not have a space agency or space industry.
"The visit by Dr. France will enable us to explore a strong partnership, and this will certainly elevate the profile and achievements of the two organizations," Low said.
Nanyang has a robust small-satellite program, which has launched two small satellites aboard Indian rockets in the last month and several others in the last five years, France said. Nanyang and the Air Force Academy have a cooperative research and development agreement reaching back to 2008.
The U.S. and Singapore militaries work together closely to secure the Strait of Malacca, which is a key sea route from Asia to Europe and Africa. The Air Force Academy plays a significant role in the two countries' relationship: Ng Chee Meng, the chief of defence force for the Singapore Armed Forces, graduated from the Academy in 1991, and the Academy hosts a handful of exchange students from Singapore each year. This year, the Academy's International Programs Office will send four cadets to Nanyang for a semester.
France has sponsored several Singaporean natives through the Cadet Sponsor Program, including Glamis Koh, who graduated in May. He said he's visited Singapore three times previously, twice to visit Nanyang and once for a conference.
"It's a fascinating city and country," he said. "It's very high-tech, very clean and orderly, very well racially and religiously integrated. It's like the Amsterdam of Asia in that it's so diverse and so open. You can almost tour Asia in one city and see so many aspects of Asia in one visit."
Living in Singapore is expensive, but the Fulbright Program helps defray the cost through a $1,550 monthly allowance. The State Department does not provide housing, but Nanyang has set France up with visiting faculty quarters.
"The Air Force pays zero for the whole thing," he said.
But in order to accept the fellowship, France had to coordinate both the State Department's Fulbright requirements and a months-long sabbatical assignment.
"I had to include the proposal for what I wanted to do, syllabi for any classes I taught and an invitation letter from Nanyang," he said.
While he put that together, France also asked Brig. Gen. Andrew Armacost, the dean of the faculty here, and Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson, the Academy superintendent, for approval to grant permissive TDY status for fellowship. The request also had to go through the Air Force Personnel Center at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and the Air Staff.
"Everyone here was very supportive," he said. "It's such a good program."
France is the most recent in a line of several Air Force Academy instructors to travel abroad on Fulbright scholarships. Dr. Fran Pilch from the Political Science Department here traveled to South Africa in 2007 and to Mongolia in 2012. Dr. Paul Carrese, from the same department, traveled to India in 2007 and in 2008, Dr. Tom McGuire from the Engineering Department traveled to Ireland. Dr. Paul Bolt, also of the Political Science Department, went to Nanyang's S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies during the 2009-2010 academic year.
The Fulbright Program is named after Sen. J. William Fulbright (D-Ark.), who served in the House of Representatives from 1943-1945 and in the Senate from 1945-1974; he died in 1995 at age 89. The program, established in 1946, is designed to increase mutual understanding among people in the United States and overseas, according to the State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs website. The program awards approximately 8,000 grants annually to 1,600 U.S. students, 4,000 foreign students, 1,200 U.S. scholars, 900 foreign scholars and "several hundred teachers and professionals."