Logo: University of Southern California

Viterbi Graduate Student Ben Vatterott Wins Fulbright Teaching Assistantship

He loves teaching and travel – and the award will support both

June 03, 2010 —

A mechanical engineering student who received a Masters in Mechanical Engineering in May 2010 can now add “Fulbright Award“ to his list of accomplishments.

In the lab. Next stop, teaching in Indonesia
In 1946, Congress established the highly competitive program which awards scholarships allowing outstanding US and foreign students like Ben Vatterott to teach and work abroad and in this country.

A Global Scholar Fellow at USC, Ben participated in the Progressive Degree Program at Viterbi – moving on from his B.S, to his M.S. -- before applying for the Fulbright’s English instruction program.

“The reason I chose to apply for this one is that I really enjoy teaching”, said Vatterott.

“Here at USC, I’ve been teaching with the Supplemental Instructor program, helping people with their physics homework.”

“I’ve also been teaching with a local non-profit group called Iridescent” -- an organization that inspires and equips underserved students on how to become scientists or engineers.

“I’d go into the local middle schools and teach anyone from fourth graders to eighth graders about science concepts and do experiments with them and stuff like that and this past summer I was a teaching assistant with the Viterbi overseas program – I love traveling as well as teaching.”

The Fulbright award will let Ben pursue these two passions simultaneously. He’ll be teaching English in Indonesia for ten months after which he plans to return to USC to pursue his Ph.D. in engineering.

Ben almost didn’t go into engineering at all. “I like helping others," he said, "and actually — for awhile — I considered doing medicine instead of engineering —both my parents are doctors and I'd love to hear their stories about what they were doing. I really like something where I get to interact with people and help them out.”

In particular, he loves working with young people.

“I was a volunteer camp counselor for a while -- it’s a blast – and I plan to do again this summer if I have time. Something about working with people younger than yourself keeps you young at heart.”