My experience as Fulbright visiting professor was an exceptional one for several reasons. First of all, it was not a lonely experience, but a group one as I was a Fulbrighter together with other five Romanians; each of us having a different background and representing a different university, but registered under the same program at the Ain Center for Entrepreneurship from the University of Rochester. The program, specially designed on the request of the Romanian American Foundation, aimed at introducing us to education on entrepreneurship. Step by step, I was convinced that entrepreneurship can be studied while learning some tools to filter ideas, understanding the market mechanism, studying how to transform a business idea into a company, practicing evaluation of startup companies and gaining business understanding from the stories of successful entrepreneurs. Therefore, from this point of view, it was a wonderful educational experience that I will use in the benefit of the Romanian educational system.
As our program involved meeting people from different institutions and organizations in town, I began to feel that I am no longer a visitor to Rochester, but one of its inhabitants. This was special too, as I was a Rochesterian when the town celebrated the bicentennial anniversary of the Erie Canal; prepared its rebirth after the failure of the Kodak Company and relocation of the Xerox Corporation to Norwalk, CT; reconfigured the highway crossing the town; worked hard to preserve the landscape designed by Frederick Law Olmstead in Highland Park; and started the moving process of its technology and business incubator (High Tech Rochester) from Henrietta (outside the town) to the Sibley building (downtown) in an attempt to become the supporter of the new Downtown Innovation Zone.
Secondly, it was an unforgettable cultural experience as well. I have to confess that it was pretty challenging to act in the multicultural U of R’s environment and the first lesson learned was to behave properly in multinational teams. Then, when I met the Romanian community, I was impressed to see how my co-nationals balanced the American customs with the Romanian traditions. Moreover, it was fascinating to celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve in America while enjoying the atmosphere and learning some recipes of dishes traditionally made on these occasions. My cultural experience was enriched by the variety of performances I have seen: “The Magic Flute” at MET, “Chicago” on Broadway, “The Nutcracker” with the Boston Ballet, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” with the music performed by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra at Eastman Theater, the Songs of Erie Canal interpreted by the Brockport Symphony Orchestra and the Golden Eagle String Band, “When Shakespeare’s Ladies Meet” presented during the Rochester Fringe Festival, the rock of the ’80s in a local brewery, and music of Leonard Bernstein played by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra on New Year’s Eve.
Thirdly, it was a travel experience, as the Fulbright scholarship allowed me to go around Rochester and see spectacular places like Niagara Falls, Chimney Bluffs, Letchworth State Park, Watkins Glen and Taughannock Falls. Additionally, I was able to visit other prestigious universities as MIT, Harvard, Cornell and Miami, and to see three of the most beautiful cities in the US: New York, Boston and Washington. Long story short, my Fulbright experience was extraordinary because it was a multi-facet one, extremely rich and complex. Due to it, I am now a “Meliora” person, with nice memories of the people I met and places I have been.
Anca Nicolau was one of six Romanian professors in 2017 to receive a Fulbright-RAF research grant to learn about entrepreneurship at the University of Rochester. Nicolau is a Professor of Food Science and Engineering at Dunarea de Jos University of Galati. She currently studies food safety issues, including detection of pathogens in food and food processing environments, as well as the destruction of microorganisms using alternative technologies.
Each fall, the Ain Center welcomes visiting faculty from Romania to explore entrepreneurship. Anca Nicolau, a member of the 2017 cohort, shares the three distinct facets of her semester in the United States at the University of Rochester.
Read the blog post here.
Growing in the US,
Changing Mindsets in Romania
I have always been an admirer of the American way of life and I am glad the Fulbright-RAF (Romanian-American Foundation) Scholar Award gave me the possibility to spend a semester immersed in the academic environment in the United States. This period of time brought to our entire Romanian group excellent learning opportunities at the Ain Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Rochester, other universities across the USA, and various organizations involved in the entrepreneurial ecosystem of upstate New York. We had the opportunity to discover firsthand how entrepreneurship and innovation are transforming the region and giving it the competitive edge it needs for the 21st century.
The lessons we learned and the great models and practices we discovered will certainly guide our activity back home in our universities. One of the defining aspects of this program is the desire to infuse the same passion and courage into the young generation in Romania as the ones we have seen in the US. In a world that becomes very dynamic and uncertain, I consider it to be essential to have young people who are not afraid of work and risk taking and are willing to fight for what they believe in. I came back to Romania with a fresh and optimistic outlook about establishing new ways to deliver entrepreneurial education and foster into our students the desire to be innovative and create new ventures based around their engineering skills. So, I must confess I am really excited to contribute to this long but rewarding journey within Technical University of Cluj-Napoca.
I think living and working in the USA has a wonderful way of changing the way you feel about freedom and opportunity: infusing you with self-confidence and the desire to change the world around you. Getting to experience the American culture first hand, from food and drinks to arts and sports, and being able to travel and visit some of the spectacular cities and sites of the US – Niagara Falls, a natural wonder of the world, definitely comes to mind here – really put into context for me the sheer scale and complexity of this amazing country and its people.
Mihai Dragomir was one of six Romanian professors in 2017 to receive a Fulbright-RAF research grant to learn about entrepreneurship at the University of Rochester. Dragomir is an Associate Professor of Machine Building in the department of Design Engineering and Robotics at the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca. He enjoys investigating new product development, quality engineering, and computer-aided engineering.
Growing in the US, Changing Mindsets in Romania
Each fall, the Ain Center welcomes visiting faculty from Romania to explore entrepreneurship. Mihai Dragomir, a member of the 2017 cohort, relates how his semester in the US kickstarted his drive to grow entrepreneurship in Romania.
Read the blog post here.