US ambassador visits UiT


US Ambassador Kenneth Braithwaite visited UiT Thursday evening - to strengthen the relations between Norway and the US, and to greet the University’s US faculty and students.

The US ambassador with Rector Anne Husebekk. Foto: Julie Strømsvold

Ambassador Kenneth Braithwaite has been the US ambassador to Norway since February 8, 2018, and this was his first visit to Tromsø.

“The US is an important country with whom we cooperate, both regarding research and education,” says Rector Anne Husebekk about the visit. Rector Husebekk had a conversation with Braithwaite about the history of the university and the current research projects being worked on. These research projects were also an important part of the visit, and the ambassador met with two of UiT’s researchers.

From Health Science to Flight Simulators

Professor of computer science, Dag Johansen, also the director of the inter-disciplinary Corpore Sano Centre, met with Braithwaite to speak about his 25-year cooperation with Cornell University.

“Our cooperation has led to several research projects that have raised the level of our department’s employees and students, to the standard of the United States’ greatest universities,” explains professor Johansen.

The collaboration has not only benefited UiT’s Faculty of Science and Technology but the community as a whole. It has resulted in employment in both Tromsø and the US. Professor Johansen was instrumental in the establishing of FAST Search and Transfer, a company acquired by Microsoft in 1997 - and the reason why Microsoft has a presence in Tromsø today, with 60 employees.

“It’s something you’d expect to find in Silicon Valley, but instead it is right below the ice of the Arctic.”

Ambassador Braithwaite had the opportunity to captain the flight simulator at the simulation center. Foto: Julie Strømsvold
Ambassador Braithwaite also met with Vegard Nergård, Norway’s only professor of aviation, who gave the ambassador a tour of UiT’s simulation center.

“The Ambassador proved to be a skilled pilot and able seaman. He landed in Tromsø in challenging winter conditions in our Boing 737 NG simulator and maneuvered rough seas in our full motion Ship Bridge simulator at Svalbard,” says Nergård.

As a former Navy pilot, Braithwaite found the simulator a very enjoyable experience.

“But what I was really interested in was the fact that you have that type of a program in a university like this. In the US, we have universities that are dedicated just to flying, but we do not have aviation programs within our larger state universities. It’s unique and interesting seeing that first hand.”

Meeting with the US Students and Faculty

UiT is a vastly international university, both when it comes to students and the faculty, several of whom are from the United States. They were grateful to meet with the ambassador, whose job it is to ensure their rights as US citizens are protected while abroad.

 - After having spoken to the rector and some of the students, and met with some of the professors, I think it is an impressive university with very impressive programs, and very impressive graduates, says Braithwaite.

The ambassador enjoyed dinner with the students and faculty, and spoke with them about their time in Norway and their roles at UiT, and left with a good impression of the university. 

 - I liked the sense of student involvement as I walked around the campus - the buildings are all beautiful, and everyone has a smile on their face, so they must like being here, he says.

Braithwaite with UiT's US students and faculty. Foto: Julie Strømsvold
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