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PROFILE: Teacher Bruce Bardes is Bulgaria Bound

A long-ago, childhood business is the reason UC faculty member Bruce Bardes will soon head off to Sofia, Bulgaria, to teach engineering courses as a Fulbright Exchange Scholar.

Date: 2/10/2003
By: Mary Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
UC ingot A long-ago childhood business is the reason UC faculty member Bruce Bardes will soon head off to Sofia, Bulgaria, to teach engineering courses as a Fulbright Exchange Scholar.

Bruce Bardes

Says Bruce, who will leave in February to teach at the Technical University of Sofia, "This is a new experience for a guy with grey hair who has 'been there, done that' in terms of all sorts of teaching and professional experience. 

"And the reason I decided to do this goes back to my childhood.  We had a printing press at home where we set the type backwards, like a rubber stamp, and printed out business cards and sayings.  Even as a small boy, I remember being very struck by one of those sayings, I think from Lord Halifax:  'Service is the rent we pay for our room on earth.'"

Thus, service is one motivator for Bruce and his wife to pick up from their Montgomery home and head for Bulgaria for five months where they will live and work in a new culture and language.  The family has hosted high school exchange students before, and their daughter likewise lived and studied abroad as an exchange student.  However, this is the first long-term stay abroad for the elder Bardeses.

Bruce Bardes

And they're set for plenty of challenges.  "Another language is a fun challenge," claims Bruce, who will nonetheless teach in English which is the international language for engineering.  He adds, "I'm looking forward to it.  I've visited about 15 countries but never lived anywhere but the U.S.  But, I'm used to a change in cultures."  He quips, "After all I went from my doctoral work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge to teaching at Clemson University in South Carolina.  Now that was a switch in cultures."

The Fulbright Exchange Scholarship is not the first and not likely to be the last challenge Bardes takes on.  He's switched between full-time university teaching and work in industry for more than 30 years now, taking on plenty of challenges along the way.  Also, Bardes has founded and operated four businesses on his own and became a registered patent agent while working at General Electric Aircraft Engines.  Even though he was a materials lab engineer without legal training, Bardes was picked to take on the training to become a patent agent on behalf of the GE lab.  "I knew all 600 people in the lab, both in Cincinnati and in Lynn, Mass.  I could talk to engineering people, ask the question necessary for patents, and I could talk to the attorneys.  And, eventually, I learned to write legalese," he says.

Bardes, an adjunct professor in UC's College of Applied Science (CAS), previously taught at Clemson University, the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and at Miami University at Oxford.  He began teaching part-time at UC in 1998, taking on courses in manufacturing processes, on intellectual property, and on engineering ethics and professional responsibility.

"I'm retired, but if I don't having something to do, I go crazy.  I used to be a 'Type A,'" he jokes.  "Now, I'm no better than a 'Type B+.'  When I wake up, I look forward to going to work.  As long as I'm physically able to, I'll keep going."

In going to Eastern Europe to teach materials and manufacturing engineering, Bardes will further existing ties between UC and Bulgaria.  In the fall of 2001 and part of winter quarter 2002, Technical University of Sofia Professor Lubomir Dimitrov, also a Fulbright recipient, taught engineering courses at CAS.

In Bulgaria, a country which is slightly larger than Ohio in size, Bardes hopes to use his humor and energy to reach students just as he does here.  He explains, "The most challenging thing in teaching it getting through the inertia of a student who has to be in your class but doesn't really want to be.  To do that, I like to poke fun at myself, bring a little drama into the classroom, fill the room with my voice and watch the lights go on one after another."

The Fulbright Program, which will take Bardes to Bulgaria, is an international, educational exchange sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.  Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement and because they have demonstrated extraordinary leadership potential in their fields.


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