The Fulbright experience was a life-changing experience for me and has made me a strong believer in cultural exchange programs, where people from different countries and backgrounds meet and work together as one team, sharing their knowledge and experiences in working together towards achieving remarkable goals. In fact, my participation in an exchange program with the US was the main reason towards obtaining my PhD degree, when I was awarded the prestigious Fulbright scholarship in 2005 that funded my PhD for the first two years, and paved the wave towards finishing the degree in 2010.
After finishing my PhD degree, I went back to my home country in Jordan, where I started working as an assistant professor at the German Jordanian University in the school of Electrical Eng and Information Technology. This great opportunity allowed me to transfer the attained knowledge and experience from the US to my students and fellows. In 2013, I participated in the Erasmus Mundus action II EPIC program as an exchange faculty member where I had a chance of visiting and meeting with Prof. Novella Bartolini from Sapienza University in Rome, Italy. During this one-month stay, I started a research project together with her on the field of wireless sensor networks. This opportunity opened many doors for me and continued the collaboration between us even after the exchange period finished, where we wrote and submitted a proposal for the NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme.
The proposal was accepted and funded by the amount of 400K that was divided among Jordan, Italy and the US. The project started in 2015 and finished in 2019, where we had the chance of doing several research papers together. This project gave me the opportunity to lead, supervise, and collaborate with more than 25 graduate and undergraduate students, and 15 researchers from the academic and industrial sectors. Furthermore, due to my distinguished profile and performance in this project and others, I was awarded the Young AFCEA 40 under 40 international award – a prestigious award given to 40 individuals aged 40 and under for their significant contributions in a technical science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field by providing innovation, through leadership, and support to their client or organizations using information technology.
This new exchange experience had encouraged me to further do projects and actions that benefited my home country and community. In particular, I had the chance of receiving the Fulbright Alumni grant in 2018, where I organized a workshop entitled “Early Entrepreneurship Exploration” for the Jordanian University students. Finally, I would like to conclude my story with another virtue I learned from the Fulbright exchange program: volunteering. In the past period, I served as the IEEE Communication Society chapter chair and other prominent positions from 2014-2019, until I was elected as the IEEE Jordan Section chair in 2019 where I am serving more than 1200 members in Jordan towards advancing science and technology.
Ala Fathi Khalifeh – Fulbright to Jordan 2005