Georgia Tech’s many study abroad programs don’t afford just students the chance to travel overseas — the Institute’s faculty have the opportunity as well. In the case of ISyE Fouts Family Early Career Professor Kamran Paynabar, he was able to spend a summer semester at Georgia Tech-Lorraine (GTL) in Metz, France.
At GTL, Paynabar taught ISYE 2028 (Basic Statistical Methods) and ISYE 3039 (Statistical Methods for Quality Improvement) to a small group of ISyE students. He noted that one of the unexpected pleasures of the experience was getting to know his students well.
“Because you see the students every day, and it’s a smaller group — compared to the Atlanta campus where classes are 60-70 students in size — getting to know individual students on a personal level was easier,” Paynabar said. On Thursdays, in preparation for the students’ long weekend, Friday through Sunday, he would ask each student to share their travel plans.
Another change from teaching on Tech’s Atlanta campus during the regular fall or spring semester was that Paynabar quickly learned to be a little more flexible in his lesson planning. Because students traveled on the weekends, they didn’t always
make it back to Metz in time for classes on Monday morning. This could be because students got lost in their new cities and missed the trains returning to Metz, or because there were transportation strikes that kept the trains from running. So Paynabar made sure not to schedule tests or hard deadlines for the first day of the week.
Despite this needed flexibility, Paynabar said that his students worked hard in their classes. “They’re still at Georgia Tech, even though they’re abroad,” he reflected. “They’re still taking classes that count toward their degrees.”
Like his students, Paynabar enthusiastically took as many opportunities as possible to travel throughout Europe. Teaching at GTL gave him the chance to explore Eze, Barcelona, Gordes, and Palermo, among other cities. “I enjoyed experiencing the different cultures,” Paynabar said. “I’m a food person, so I enjoyed the variety of dishes that different countries had to offer.”
Travel aside, he also said that Metz, perhaps unexpectedly, has much to offer, and he encouraged future GTL students not to neglect exploring the small historic city: “GTL is close to downtown, which is very beautiful, with the river passing through the city center. Metz hosts several festivals throughout the summer and has good museums.
One even features artifacts from ancient Gallo- Roman ruins.” And — returning to the subject of food — Paynabar noted that Metz’s restaurants offered a high-quality experience, “amazing taste and presentation,” that was unrivaled, even in Paris.
“I absolutely would go back,” he added.
H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering