College of Engineering professor receives Fulbright Award to teach in Latvia

Marcis Jansons (pictured right) is combining his cultural heritage with his engineering expertise. The Wayne State University associate professor of mechanical engineering has received a Fulbright Award to teach in Latvia beginning in August.

Jansons’ proposal, “Advanced Engine Combustion: A Path to Fuel Economy, Reduced Air Emissions and Energy Security,” was selected by the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board (FFSB) for the fall 2015 semester with the possibility to continue through spring 2016. The Fulbright Program aims to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries, and is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government.

Jansons’ grandparents immigrated to the United States from Latvia during World War II, and he grew up speaking, reading and writing in Latvian.

“My first trip to Latvia was in 1983, and I have observed transformations [there] over three decades, giving me insight and understanding of the culture and society,” says Jansons. “I wish to contribute my expertise and participate in its further development.”

Jansons’ host institution for the Fulbright Program will be Riga Technical University (RTU), the leading national research university for applied sciences in Latvia. Jansons has worked with RTU since 2011, when at the request of the Latvian Embassy in Washington, D.C., he hosted a series of visits to Wayne State by RTU administrators seeking to develop joint educational programs and identify areas for collaborative research. One outcome of that initiative was a 3-2 program in electrical engineering where RTU students can earn a B.S. from RTU and an M.S. from Wayne State in five years.

As part of the Fulbright Program, Jansons will teach courses, develop teaching laboratories, advise graduate students, guide research projects, develop an additional 3-2 program and assist in the preparation of a Latvian language textbook on internal combustion engines, the first of its kind to be published since 1980.

“Professor Jansons’ courses will be well integrated into our program, and I am glad to see cooperation between our institutions continue,” says Leonids Ribickis, RTU rector (chancellor). “I fully support his plans to develop programs while here.”

Jansons’ expertise is in the development of experimental engine laboratories and the application of optical combustion diagnostic techniques. Despite worldwide investment in the search for viable alternatives, the internal combustion engine remains the dominant prime mover of light-duty vehicles. Jansons’ research focuses on engine efficiency, especially as it relates to fuel economy and air quality. His goal is to add to a growing technical understanding of and workforce in this discipline in Latvia.

“The entire College of Engineering community is excited for Marcis,” says Farshad Fotouhi, dean of the College of Engineering. “He represents the collaborative and global spirit of our faculty, and I know that he will make amazing contributions in Latvia on behalf of the Fulbright Program and Wayne State University.”