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Travel award allows professor opportunity to share ideas, data, manpower with Chinese universities


International relationships can be incredibly beneficial to universities, allowing the partner institutions to share knowledge, resources and best practices to achieve greater results in research and education. A University of Missouri College of Engineering professor’s recent award will allow him to build upon such a relationship in China.

Bill Buttlar, the Barton Chair of Flexible Pavement Technology in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, recently received a China Great Overseas Talent Award, sponsored by Chang’An University, where Buttlar previously was an honorary visiting professor, and Beijing University of Technology.

Buttlar and Zhao pose with a certificate.

Bill Buttlar was appointed honorary visiting professor by Chang’an University Vice President Junhai Zhao in 2014, paving the way for Buttlar’s China Great Overseas Talent Award. Photo courtesy of Chang’an University.

This five-year award will allow Buttlar to travel to China for 2-4 weeks each year to develop research collaborations, scientific exchanges and personnel exchanges between MU and the two institutions. He’ll also have access to some of China’s best and brightest engineering students, which could be an additional avenue to identify and recruit top doctoral candidates for the College of Engineering.

“It also allows me to have assistant and associate professors there (to work with), and they’ll often contact me about doing a year in residency at Mizzou,” Buttlar said.

“They bring data methods from their labs, and they’ll keep their lab going in China, so the exchange has the effect of doubling or tripling the data and resources that we have available here to conduct world-class pavement research. This will hasten our efforts to improve the condition and economics of maintaining Missouri’s roads and airports, while allowing us to publish the results in top international journals.”

Additionally, Buttlar will seek additional collaborators for his wide array of asphalt research projects and will have the opportunity to share his expertise.

“I’ll visit labs, stay in the labs, teach seminars, give keynotes and lectures,” he said. “I can travel to numerous universities and cities in China from 2-4 weeks a year as my schedule permits to pursue research collaborations and opportunities to market our research products abroad.”

Buttlar has been building relationships at Chang’An for years now and appreciates the benefits of international collaborations. The more mutually beneficial the relationship, the better it is for the field of engineering at large.

“We’re always looking for the best scholars to partner with, and we want to share our knowledge and apply our discoveries across the globe,” he said, “It expands our knowledge and speeds up the pace of innovation.”

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