Htoo Wai Htet '16 named Watson Fellow

Publication Date

Htoo Wai Htet ’16 will travel the world next year, funded by the prestigious Thomas J. Watson Fellowship Program.

Htet is one of 39 students nationwide selected for the fellowship from more than 700 candidates nominated by private liberal arts colleges and universities in the United States.

This marks the fourth straight year that the College has had a Watson fellow. The children of Thomas J. Watson, Sr., the founder of IBM, and his wife, Jeanette K. Watson, established the program in 1967 to honor their parents’ longstanding interest in education and world affairs.

This year’s selection committee included: Ann Anderson, the Agnes S. MacDonald Professor of Mechanical Engineering; Maggie Tongue, director of the Scholars Program; Doug Klein, the Kenneth B. Sharpe Professor of Economics; Brad Bruno, professor of mechanical engineering; Jillmarie Murphy, assistant professor of English, Lynn Evans, director of National Fellowships and Scholarships; Jeffrey Witsoe, associate professor of anthropology; and Rahde Franke '10.

Union’s most recent Watson winners include Warren Thompson ’15, Karlee Bergendorff ’15, Sean Day ’14 and Shiqing He ‘14. Other recent winners include Joshua Anderson ’13, Shilpa Darivemula ’13, Rahde Franke ’10 and James Morton ’10.

Htet, an electrical engineering and computer science double major from Myanmar, will receive $30,000 to travel outside the country for a year. Learn more about his research project here:

  • Hometown: Yangon, Myanmar
  • Majors: Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
  • Activities: Robotics Crew, MakerCorps, Academic Opportunity Program tutor, Early Music Ensemble and Chess Club
  • Project title: “Making Technological Empowerment Affordable”
  • Proposed countries: Switzerland, United Kingdom, India, Indonesia and Japan
  • Description: I will investigate the gap between advancement and affordability of technology, and how innovative design processes depend on governmental and cultural contexts in countries that are at the two extremes of the technological spectrum. In each developed country (Switzerland, England, and Japan), I will engage and learn from design teams at start-up companies, university researchers, and innovators at community hackerspaces. In each developing country (India and Indonesia), I will work closely with teams from social enterprises and distributors developing products that empower local communities. Engaging with the end users of the products, and learning about each team’s business models, design processes, and marketing strategies, I will deepen my understanding of cultural influences on design process. I will use my insight into how technological empowerment can be made affordable to improve people’s livelihood in Myanmar and other developing communities.

Click here to learn more about the Watson Fellowship program.