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In this 2013 photo, principal investigator Akhlesh Lakhtakia, Evan Pugh University professor of engineering science and mechanics at Penn State (left), meets with Yi-Jun Jen, vice president of research at the National Taipei University of Technology, at Taroko National Park in Taiwan. In June, NTUT will host a group of 16 American students for an advanced study institute. Credit: Submitted/Akhlesh Lakhtakia

Penn State and University of Dayton will co-lead two advanced studies institutes over the next two summers to encourage student interest and skill building

By Mariah Chuprinski

The United States lags behind other countries when it comes to manufacturing displays used in televisions, computers, mobile phones and more, according to Penn State researchers. To engage students and begin equipping them with the skills needed to develop next-generation displays, Penn State and the University of Dayton will lead two advanced studies institutes in Taiwan. Funded with a $300,000 National Science Foundation grant, 16 graduate students from the United States will go to Taiwan to learn from experts and network with peers in the field.

The first advanced studies institute will be hosted by the National Taipei University of Technology and the second by National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University. Students will spend a week at each and participate in short courses and laboratory projects aimed to generate a new workforce of leaders in display manufacturing. 

“Our goal is to nucleate a technical workforce to design and manufacture next-generation display products in the U.S.,” said Akhlesh Lakhtakia, principal investigator on the grant and Evan Pugh University professor of engineering science and mechanics at Penn State. “Taiwan is a global manufacturing leader in display technology, along with South Korea and China. Our hope is to use this program to expand our influence and leadership in display research and education.”

Throughout the program, students will interact with industry experts at some of the world's top display companies, including AUO Optronics, PlayNitride and E Ink. Participants also will visit industrial sites and museums, engage in cultural immersion programs, receive mentoring and take part in socials and networking opportunities. 

Faculty from Penn State, the University of Dayton, the Taiwanese host universities, and Bernard Kress, an expert in augmented and virtual reality at Google, will present to the students during the program. Along with conventional display technology, students will learn about organic LED technology, color models, radiometry for display optics, holographic image generation materials and devices, and much more. 

Up to two students will be accepted from both Penn State and the University of Dayton, depending on application strength, while the others will come from other universities in the U.S. According to Lakhtakia, the cohort will comprise of students with diverse academic backgrounds, including those studying electrical engineering, physics, material science, industrial engineering or manufacturing. Sixteen Taiwanese students also will join the cohort to learn alongside and collaborate with the American students.

“Our goal is for students to not just expand their knowledge, but also to become acquainted with colleagues to potentially form future international collaborations in research and industry,” said Jian Hsu, co-principal investigator and Penn State professor of engineering science and mechanics. “Getting students with similar interests together could bolster their professional development at an important early stage of their careers.” 

The National Science Foundation International Research Experience for Students Advanced Studies Institute program will cover all travel expenses for the students. Partha Banerjee, professor of electro-optics and photonics at the University of Dayton, will serve as co-principal investigator.

Any graduate student who is a U.S. citizen at a U.S. college or university can request an application for the program or more information by emailing Lakhtakia at ASI2022-2023@psu.edu. Applications will be accepted until April 10 and the program is scheduled to begin on June 7.  

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