Titanium engineering student off to US on Fulbright scholarship

13 July 2010

Paul Ewart

Fulbright ahead: Waikato University PhD student Paul Ewart will spend a year at the University of Texas.

Waikato PhD student Paul Ewart heads to the US later this month to spend a year at the University of Texas in Edinburg on a prestigious Fulbright scholarship.

Ewart, who has an industry background in engineering, will use his Fulbright-Ministry of Research, Science and Technology Graduate Award to work with Professor Seokyoung Ahn, a leading authority on metal injection moulding, as part of his doctoral studies into low-energy processes to create titanium alloys.

"I'll also have the opportunity to look at the commercial titanium industry in North America," says Ewart. "There's a big government drive in New Zealand to develop a titanium industry, so there's a lot of interest in the work we're doing here at Waikato in the Titanium Research Group on metal injection moulding using titanium alloy powders."

Titanium has the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any metal, and is used for components in the aerospace, medical and automotive industries and in the latest laptops and cellphones. Products made using titanium alloy powders are even stronger and can withstand higher temperatures.

Ewart has also been awarded an additional postgraduate scholarship worth $7,500 from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Enterprise to support his study trip.

Originally from Dunedin, Ewart was a student at Fairfield College and Hillcrest High School in Hamilton before going on to the then Waikato Polytechnic to study engineering. He spent nearly 15 years as an engineer primarily in the transport sector, including five years in Sydney.

In 2000, he came back to the Waikato to manage the University’s large-scale engineering laboratory, which he combined with study towards a Masters degree. He began his doctoral studies last year, and is the recipient of a University of Waikato doctoral scholarship and a Titanium Research Group study award.

Ewart works closely with local engineering firm ProMould, an industry partner in the titanium research programme. “ProMould does all our trials,” he says. “Here in New Zealand we’ve got a hi-tech injection moulding industry in polymers, so if we can combine this expertise with processing metal powders for titanium production, we could have a real advantage in this niche high-value market.”

Ewart is one of 25 graduate students from New Zealand universities to win a Fulbright Student award under the Fulbright programme of international educational exchange. The grantees receive a living allowance, airfares, insurances and programme support during their stay in the US.

Waikato University is currently hosting two Fulbright scholars from the US. They are Mike Roman, who's completing a doctorate looking at the impact of migration on Kiribati communities in New Zealand, Fiji and the US, and Lauren Long, who’s conducting PhD study into denitrification walls.

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