UM-Flint CIT Welcomes Cohort of International Research Scholars

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photo of international research scholars from Tunisia
Thanks to new international agreements and partnerships, nine graduate students from top universities in Tunisia will finalize their thesis work with CIT faculty this year.

As College of Innovation & Technology research funding grows, the college has welcomed a cohort of international research scholars to collaborate on faculty funded projects. Thanks to new international agreements and partnerships in the Middle East and North Africa region, nine graduate students from top universities in Tunisia will finalize their thesis work with CIT faculty through the end of June this year, and then join the graduate programs offered by the university. 

Marouane Kessentini photo

"We have made great progress in creating partnerships with prestigious international universities to attract talented students," said Marouane Kessentini, associate dean of research & graduate education at CIT. "This cohort is the first of many in the future to make the University of Michigan-Flint their U.S. academic home and to live here in the city of Flint." The cohort of visiting scholars is part of an overall strategic plan for graduate research and education in CIT. 

"With our 12 new MS programs and the new PhD program in Computing, we are ready to increase our outreach internationally. We are also experiencing explosive growth in federal grant funding, from just $60,000 at the start of the academic year, to approaching $4 million at the end. Our work with strategic planning and goal attainment toward that plan will allow us to attract top students not only from the state of Michigan, but also from top schools around the globe," said Kessentini. "We look forward to working with this cohort of highly capable young researchers who will contribute to the economic development and growth of Flint and Genesee County. Clearly, the more international STEM students that Michigan can attract, train, and retain, the better. Some of these students have disruptive business ideas that can lead to creating high-growth startups."

Doug Zytko photo

Several CIT faculty are looking forward to developing preliminary experimental data to prepare for federal grant proposals for further work. Doug Zytko, associate professor of computer science, director of the PhD in computing program, and one of the faculty advisors in the program said, "This is an exciting opportunity for CIT faculty to work with some of the brightest students from around the globe on cutting-edge research. The visiting scholars have already had an impact on my research lab and our pursuit of real-world impact."

Example research projects include: 

  • A deep learning approach for skin cancer classification
  • Refactoring operations performed on open-source software
  • Software testing focused on classifying consent bugs and implementing a tool to detect those bugs
  • Refactoring operations performed on open-source software
photo of conference room with speaker
Kessentini welcomes new international research scholars at orientation

"This is exciting, state-of-the art research work that is developing, right here in Flint," said Chris Pearson, CIT dean. "These new initiatives are just a few examples of the many ways in which we are expanding our pool of talent, our ability to attract first-class scholars and new faculty with high-research capabilities."  The developments focused on growing research and graduate education, along with the growth in grant productivity, coincide with a multi-million dollar investment from the State of Michigan for an innovation & technology complex. Construction is scheduled to start in March.

Laurel Ming is the office manager for the College of Innovation & Technology. She can be reached at [email protected]