New 'University and Distinguished Professor Lecture Series' Highlights Accomplishments of Baylor Faculty

Nov. 5, 2007
News Photo 4316Walter Bradley

Media contact: Lori Fogleman, director of media communications, (254) 710-6275

Dr. Walter L. Bradley, Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Baylor University, will give the inaugural lecture in the newly established University and Distinguished Professor Lecture Series at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7, in the Piper Great Hall at Baylor's George W. Truett Theological Seminary. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Bradley will speak on A panel discussion will follow Bradley's lecture, with Dr. Rene Massengale, assistant professor in the department of biology; Vincent Asamoah, a graduate student in the department of religion; and David Ngong, a student at Truett Seminary.

Dr. Randall O'Brien, executive vice president and provost at Baylor, created the lecture series to highlight the intellectual contributions of faculty who hold the distinction of University Professor and Distinguished Professor. Over the past decade, Baylor has added 19 of these high-profile scholars to the university's faculty. Currently Baylor has four University Professors, who teach classes across disciplinary boundaries, and 15 Distinguished Professors, who teach in specific areas.

"Baylor University and the Central Texas community are the glad beneficiaries of an incredible deposit of intellectual capital in professorships, directorships, and business and organizational leadership positions. Among Baylor's wealth of human resources are our University and Distinguished Professors, who hold national and international acclaim in their respective fields," O'Brien said. "As a gift to the University and the Central Texas community the Office of the Provost is pleased to announce a newly created lecture series. Our intent is to make available for conversation with students, faculty, staff and citizens, our University and Distinguished professors in the context of their cutting-edge work.

"We are delighted that Dr. Walter Bradley has agreed to offer our inaugural lecture on a topic of supreme global significance," O'Brien added.

In his lecture, Bradley will discuss the Global Poverty Center at Baylor, a recently approved strategic proposal that was developed by Bradley, Dr. Bill Jordan (Mechanical Engineering), Dr. Jeffery McMullen, Dr. Joe McKinney and Dr. Greg Leman (Hankamer School of Business) and Dr. Michael Stroope (Truett Seminary).

Bradley said most global poverty initiatives seek solutions that operate from a macro perspective and offer top-down approaches. The Baylor Global Poverty Center, he said, will focus on poverty from a different perspective and offer a range of bottom-up approaches.

"There is need to pioneer new models of response to poverty that moves beyond simply providing money and meeting immediate physical needs. The greater need is for a shift in approach that focuses on systemic development and economic problems," Bradley said.

Bradley said Baylor's School of Engineering and Computer Science, Hankamer School of Business and Truett Seminary are positioned to offer academic and professional expertise for the creation of innovative approaches.

"The Center would provide impetus and funding for the innovation of appropriate technologies and viable economic models, along with systems of implementation. Appropriate technology and social entrepreneurship provide the means and opportunities to affect the physical, economic and social conditions of the poor using 'bottom-up' approaches," Bradley said. "The nexus of the mission of the local church, appropriate technologies and social entrepreneurship holds great promise for empowering individuals and communities to bring about sustainable economic development as an integral part of a holistic Christian witness."

An example of the prototypical project of the Center is Bradley's engineering research group of five students, who have been working for two years to develop appropriate technologies to convert the constituent parts of coconuts - an abundant, renewable resource in many parts of the world where poverty is endemic - into electricity, particle board, cooking fuel and other value-added products using simple, inexpensive equipment.

The project has been very successful, and the research group will be ready to do their first deployment of this technology in 2008. In the meantime, McMullen's students in the Hankamer School of Business have been developing business plans around this technology, which takes coconuts worth $0.06 each and converts them into products worth $0.60 each.

Bradley earned his bachelor's and doctoral degree from the University of Texas at Austin in materials science and engineering. He taught for eight years at Colorado School of Mines and then for 24 years at Texas A&M University, where he served as department head of mechanical engineering and also as director of the Polymer Technology Center. He joined Baylor in 2002 as Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering.

Bradley is an elected Fellow of the American Society for Materials and the American Scientific Affiliation in recognition of his research contributions to these fields. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the Department of Energy, and many Fortune 500 companies, including DuPont, Dow Chemical, Mobil, Exxon, Shell, Phillips and 3M, resulting in more than 150 publications. His research at Baylor has focused on developing technology that will facilitate economic development in the poorest parts of the world, technology that can be deployed in a market driven way that is economically and environmentally sustainable.

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