2/2012

Fulbright Professor Chris Meehan joins TUT

Christopher Meehan

Chris Meehan is excited about his work in the Department of
Civil Engineering and the changing seasons in Finland.

Christopher Meehan from the USA is the first Fulbright Professor to join TUT. He enjoys the quirks of Finnish culture and is looking to build a strong network of professional contacts.

Christopher Meehan, a faculty member from the University of Delaware in the United States, recently arrived with his family to Tampere to begin work at Tampere University of Technology.

A year-long Fulbright professorship - the first of its kind at TUT - was waiting for Meehan in the Department of Civil Engineering. Meehan laughingly admits to feeling some pressure of being the first.

The first academic exchange programme between Finland and North America dates back to 1949. Finland joined the Fulbright Programme, the U.S. government's flagship programme in international educational exchange, in 1952. The programme is steeped in history and important cultural values.

"During the hard years that followed World War II, many governments were trying to rebuild the trust and relationships between nations, to help prevent future conflict. The Fulbright Programme was founded during this sensitive time, with the goal of increasing mutual understanding between the citizens of countries all around the world. In a sense, it is the purest form of diplomacy and friendship between nations, from person-to-person, citizen-to-citizen."

While at TUT, Meehan's primary goal is to build a network of friends and colleagues with whom he can collaborate, both for this year and into the future.

"Since arriving at TUT, everyone has been so warm and welcoming. Even prior to my arrival, folks were working with me and my family to make arrangements and help us get settled down. Now that I am here, I find myself greatly enjoying the Finnish "coffee hour" traditions. Taking a little time during the day to chat with colleagues over coffee is a great way to get to know people quickly, and learn about the type of research projects that they are working on."

WHO: Christopher Meehan, 36 years

  • Fulbright Professor 2012-2013, Department of Civil Engineering.
  • Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Delaware.
  • Education: Doctor of Philosophy 2006, Virginia Tech; Master of Science 2000, Virginia Tech; Bachelor of Science 1999, University of New Hampshire.
  • Born in New Hampshire, USA.
  • Lives in Tampere.
  • Family: wife, 3-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son.
  • Hobbies: outdoor activities such as walking and hiking, swing dancing. Enjoys building wooden furniture.

Active exchange of ideas

Meehan is enthusiastic about his new job at TUT and delighted to be part of the campus community. Generally speaking, his research interests are in "geotechnical engineering", a specialty subdiscipline within civil engineering that is focused on the engineering behaviour of earth materials.

During his year at TUT, Meehan plans to conduct research in a variety of interesting areas, with a particular focus on problems in the areas of geothermal energy and railroad engineering.

"From what I have observed, geothermal heat pump technology has relatively high utilization in Finland, and my TUT colleagues and I have an interest about how these tools can be more efficiently incorporated into the built environment. There are also a number of other exciting research projects going on here at TUT in the broad area of railway engineering. We are currently seeing a resurgence of political interest in railways in the United States right now, and I hope to learn a lot from my Finnish colleagues about best-practices in construction that I can bring back to the U.S."

Ready for an adventure

The Meehans have settled comfortably into their new home in Hervanta, a residential area of Tampere, where everything is within walking distance.

For the children, the new environment offers plenty of new experiences. The parents also came to Finland ready for an adventure.

"This is our first contact with Finland, but even my wife did not need to be persuaded to come here. The Finnish university and school system in general has made an impression on us and the northern climate suits us very well".

 

Text: Kati Vastamäki
Photo: Virpi Andersin

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