Tech Student to Travel to Budapest on a Fulbright Fellowship

Last spring, computer science and applied mathematics major David Eger left Budapest, Hungary, after studying math in a semester abroad program. He's been trying to find his way back ever since. So he did what any enterprising student would do: he applied for a Fulbright Fellowship. This spring, Eger found out he'll be returning to Budapest courtesy of the U.S. State Department, making him the second Tech student in two years to win the fellowship.

"If you go to a country where the food is wonderful and the people are awesome, you just can't wait to get back. There is a great candidness to the people and to the country. Their mathematicians are second to none. It's just beautiful ,and I want to go back," said Eger.

The Fulbright program was created in 1946 with legislation sponsored by Sen. J. William Fulbright. A fervent believer in cultural exchange, he reasoned that nations would be less likely to go to war against each other if people could study abroad and learn about each other's culture, a philosophy Eger has taken to heart.

"There are a lot of far off places that we may hear about on the news, but we have no concept of what they are really like," said Eger.

On his first trip, Eger rented a room from an 85-year-old Hungarian woman. Eger didn't speak much Hungarian and she didn't speak much English, so they spoke to each other in the only language that was mutual - German. Living with her was an amazing experience, Eger said. Her husband was in the military, and she had lived through several wars. She was an eyewitness to history.

Fulbright advisor Amy Bass Henry said Eger's enthusiasm made him the perfect Fulbright candidate. "I'm so glad he was awarded the Fulbright. He is very passionate about Hungary and math."

Eger will spend a year taking graduate-level math in Budapest and then plans to return to the states to pursue a Ph.D. in computer science.

"There's a beauty to math. There's a bit of finality. Once you're done proving something in math, you're done," said Eger.

The Fulbright Fellowship will pay for his travel, tuition, books, as well as room and board. Sponsored by the U.S. State Department, the domestic component of the international program awards about 1,000 grants for American students to pursue international research. More than 140 countries participated in the program this year.