URI International Engineering Program alumna earns Fulbright Award

Also awarded Goldwater, Demers Foreign Language scholarships

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Cherish Prickett
Cherish Prickett in Germany for URI's International Engineering Program.
Photo by Cherish Prickett.

KINGSTON, R.I. — April 22, 2019 — Cherish Prickett, who graduated summa cum laude from the University of Rhode Island in 2018 with bachelor’s degrees in industrial and systems engineering and German, was recently awarded a prestigious Fulbright award.

The Fulbright provides research, study and teaching opportunities to recent graduates and graduate students. Prickett will pursue a master’s degree in risk, disaster and resilience at University College London’s (UCL) Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction (IRDR), starting in September. The Fulbright will cover her tuition and provide a stipend for living expenses.

Prickett completed the five-year International Engineering Program with a 3.93 grade point average and also earned the Barry Goldwater scholarship, the Beatrice Demers Foreign Language scholarship, and the German Academic Exchange Service award or Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (also known as DAAD).

Through the Fulbright, “I will gain a broad understanding of how disasters are currently mitigated, as well as complete a project under the Cascading Disasters Research Group, which is an entire group of researchers solely focused on the specific type of disasters that I hope to address in my future research,” said Prickett, who completed the University’s International Engineering Program last year. “The time I spend with IRDR will create a foundation in disaster relief that I will use throughout my career.”

The Lilburn, Georgia native plans to use her experience in the United Kingdom in the next year to launch the next phase of her career.

“The international experience I will gain and the connections I will make will add more diversity and depth to my future research,” said Prickett. “I would love to work as a staff researcher in a lab or with an NGO (non-governmental organization) that does work to minimize the ramifications on communities affected by natural and manmade disasters.”

More specifically, Prickett would like to research disasters that mimic a domino effect, where one disaster strikes and directly causes another disaster.

“I hope to work on logistics for how we prepare for and manage these disasters using optimization modeling techniques,” explained Prickett.

Prickett said she could not have become a Fulbright recipient without the help of the URI community.

Assisting Prickett with the Fulbright application was Kathleen Maher, director of URI’s Office of National Fellowships & Academic Opportunities. Industrial and systems engineering Professors Manbir Sodhi, Valerie Maier-Speredelozzi and Gretchen Macht submitted letters of support and URI’s British Scholarships Committee, chaired by philosophy Professor Cheryl Foster, prepared the alumna for the Fulbright award interview.

“Cherish’s innumerable qualities transcend traditional classroom boundaries,” Macht said. “Her vision of the world is balanced between idealism and rationalism, with the mental capabilities and passion for changing the course of how programs are written by engineers to include the human element to help people. I could not think of a better candidate for this scholarship.”

Prickett’s path to URI’s IEP was less conventional than most. After earning an associate’s degree in engineering at a community college, Georgia Perimeter College (since absorbed by Georgia State University), she Googled “international programs and engineering” and URI’s program popped up high in the search results.

After visiting the campus with her mother, and meeting with students and faculty, Prickett was convinced that URI was the place for her.

When Prickett entered the German IEP, Sigrid Berka, executive director of the IEP, outlined an accelerated plan for her to complete three years of German language studies in only two years.

“I recommended that she enroll in the URI German Summer School prior to starting at URI to gain confidence in the language and take the two required German literature courses parallel to her language courses in her junior year,” Berka said.

In her senior year at URI, Prickett studied at Technical University Braunschweig in Germany, where she completed an operations research internship project entitled “lautlos&einsatzbereit” at the Institute for Automotive Management and Industrial Production, led by Professor Thomas Spengler, a research collaborator of Sodhi and liaison of the IEP at TU Braunschweig.

The goal of her project was to analyze the impact of integrating electric vehicles into the fleet of vehicles operated by Niedersachsen’s police.

“My task was to develop a new model that factored partial recharging, to any desired amount, and understand how the necessity to charge the electric vehicles impacted the arrival time at the crime scene,” recalled Prickett.

About the Fulbright Program

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards approximately 2,000 grants annually in all fields of study and operates in more than 140 countries. More than 380,000 Fulbrighters from the United States and other countries have participated in the program since its inception in 1946.

Fulbright U.S. Student alumni populate a range of professions, including ambassadors, members of Congress, judges, heads of corporations, university presidents, journalists, artists, professors, and teachers.