Matthew T. Vonk

Physics and Astronomy
  • Associate Professor, Physics Department, College of Arts and Sciences
  • University of Wisconsin--River Falls, River Falls, WI
  • Lecturing: Bridging the Digital Divide: Collaborative Curriculum Development in Nicaragua
  • Host: National Engineering University, Managua, Nicaragua
  • March 2010 - July 2010
  • Email:

Three very separate strands in my life came together for me in 2010: 1) I love to travel, but I'm not crazy about being a tourist. 2) I had been working really hard to learn to speak Spanish. 3) I was really excited about a technology (Field Programmable Gate Arrays or FPGA's) that I had just started using in my digital electronics course.These three factors led me to apply for a Fulbright Award to Nicaragua, where I ended up teaching and collaborating with faculty at the National Engineering University in Managua.

While there I taught the other instructors about FPGA's, taught a section of the digital electronics class, had time to think, made friends, improved my Spanish, and traveled within Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

The experience of living and working in a different country, at a new university, in a discipline (engineering) slightly different than my own, in a foreign language, and in a culture that I wasn't used to was a challenge. Overcoming that challenge was invigorating and rejuvenating to me on many levels and my Fulbright experience ended up being transformative to me on a professional level and on a personal level.