Balsells Fellowship Students Commemorate Program's 10th Anniversary with Park Bench Dedication

Former Catalan President, Jordi Pujol, attended UCI’s special event and student poster session

Aug. 15, 2005 -- UC Irvine’s Balsells Fellowship engineering students welcomed former Catalan President, Jordi Pujol, along with honored guest and founder of the program, Peter J. Balsells, for a special luncheon and park bench dedication ceremony in Aldrich Park, followed by a student poster session and reception at Calit2, on Aug 4.

Established in 1995, The Balsells Fellowship is an international academic program created to assist talented engineering students from Catalonia, Spain, who are seeking their post-graduate or post-doctoral degrees in engineering. Roger Rangel, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, is the UC Irvine Balsell’s fellowship director, and has been consistently working with the fellows and the Catalonian government to ensure the success and future growth of the program.

The Balsells students placed an engraved park bench in Aldrich Park in honor of the program’s 10th anniversary; and Pujol, who has been an influential individual in helping develop the strong sister-state relationship between Catalonia and California.

The bench is a symbol of respect and appreciation for Pujol, the Generalitat de Catalunya (the Catalonian government), Balsells and UC Irvine.  The Balsells Fellowship students held their own fundraiser in honor of the occasion to raise money for the park bench.

A crowd of students, faculty and staff gathered to witness Pujol and his bench ribbon-cutting ceremony in the park, followed by the Balsells students dressed in bright orange shirts, building a “human tower,” to lively music, a Catalonian tradition.

Later that afternoon, the Samueli School hosted a student poster session and reception in Calit2, allowing Pujol, Balsell, and other honored guests to view student projects and ask questions.  The UC Irvine’s Chancellor, Dr. Michael Drake, attended the reception and gave a warm welcome speech to Pujol, Balsells, and the Catalonian students.

Jordi Pujol, Peter Balsells, Mrs. Pujol                                              Roger Rangel, Peter Balsells, and Mrs. Pujol

Students build human tower                                                        Chancellor Drake and Dean Alexopoulos