In fall 2021, a chance meeting between Yanjun Yan, associate professor in Western Carolina University’s College of Engineering and Technology, and Vladislav “Vlado” Slavov at the Technical University of Sofia in Bulgaria, would set things in motion for WCU to have its second Fulbright Visiting Scholar in the university’s history.
Yan was at TU-Sofia as a Fulbright Visiting Scholar herself when she met Slavov, who at the time was a Hubert Humphrey Fellow, which is also one of the Fulbright programs.
Slavov, an engineering professor and vice dean at TU-Sofia, told Yan of his pandemic-hindered visit to Penn State in spring 2021 and that he was unable to fulfill the requirements needed to continue his work. Slavov then applied to finish his visit at WCU and was awarded the Fulbright Visiting Scholar for the fall semester. Slavov has been at WCU since Aug. 1 and will remain until the end of December.
“All the faculty, staff and students at WCU have been so welcoming and friendly,” Slavov said. “I am enjoying my time here; the students are very hardworking and ask lots of great questions.
Slavov has been working with students in the electrical engineering program’s electronic devices lab and conducting research on artificial intelligence for TU-Sofia and the European Union.
“Vlado is an experienced teacher, actively engaging with our students to ensure that they are successful,” Yan said. “He is very collaborative with his research and we’ve been able to introduce him to a number of colleagues on campus and in the UNC System because of that.
For his research, Slavov is currently collaborating with faculty members Lisa Bloom, the Jay M. Robinson Professor, Kristy Doss, assistant professor, and Patricia Bricker, professor and associate dean for academic affairs, from WCU’s College of Education and Allied Professions as well as Yan, to survey students in grades 8-12 to gauge their attitudes towards the use of AI in education. This is being done as a comparative study of a similar one conducted in Bulgaria in 2021.
Slavov also gave a talk on “Artificial Intelligence in Education - policies, risks, recommendations, impact” based on research from the EU, U.S. and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's on Sept. 29 for the College of Engineering and Technology’s Seminar Series.
In addition to the friendly faces at WCU, Slavov has been impressed with the campus facilities and layout.
“I have been very impressed by the infrastructure and technology at WCU,” Slavov said. “The campus is very conveniently laid out. My students and I have everything we need right here in our lab. I have thoroughly enjoyed visiting WCU.”