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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Collaboration across the sea

Russia+Researcher
Photo By: Alexis Will
Russia Researcher

One Texas A&M student has decided to add a twist to her college experience this semester by researching Chinese aircraft markets from a Russian perspective. 

The United States-Russia Forum, SURF, is an international program hosted by Stanford University to bring students from American and Russian universities together for research. Maura Cadigan is the first Texas A&M student to participate in the program, where she is teamed up with an American and two Russian students to research Russian aviation sales in China. 

Cadigan and her team are a month into their research and are learning to adapt to the unique challenges research collaboration across cultures and time zones can pose. In April, all participants will meet again in Stanford to present their research.

Cadigan traveled to Russia for a week-long orientation trip in early September. Three days were spent in Moscow, where she met with the other delegates, Russian government officials and academics. The other part of the week was spent in Tyumen, Siberia. 

The topic they are researching is civil aviation sales and Russian manufacturing. Cadigan said with the collapse of the Soviet Union, their powerhouse’s aviation industry collapsed as well.

“It’s basically just investigating whether or not Russia can find a niche in the Chinese aircraft market, or really any of the emerging markets, but China is definitely the biggest one,” Cadigan said. “Whether they can find a niche to sell planes, become a prominent aircraft producing company, like the U.S. or France.”

The team is focusing on China because of the country’s fast growing middle class and increasing travel rates. Cadigan is focusing more on the technical side of the topic and has a contact at Boeing in the company’s sales department who she will be interviewing.

“I think since Boeing is an American company, they’re required to disclose its sales. I think they’ll have some technical specifications online that 

would help me determine if their planes would meet Chinese market needs,” Cadigan said. “I’m not sure if Russian aircraft producers would have similar information available online, because I’m not sure how open their information is. I haven’t gotten to that part yet.”

Cadigan’s team is using Skype and Slack, a team communication app, to stay in contact during the research period.

Cadigan said there is a slight language barrier when speaking with members on her team.

“I’m sure there are times when they probably can’t understand my English very well,” Cadigan said. “I think they learned British English, to kind of dissociate itself from America, and it’s kind of more proper English. I think that the southern accent of American English is probably one of the harder ones to understand.”

Having interned in France this past spring, Cadigan already has experience working with others from vastly different backgrounds. She said it is important to keep an open mind and to respect each other’s differences in order to succeed in international affairs. 

Sumana Datta, executive director of LAUNCH, an A&M academic program, said Cadigan is one of the only juniors participating and one of only three delegates with a background in a STEM field. 

“The Stanford-Russia Forum has a history of interest in technological cooperation as well as economic and policy projects,” Datta said. “Maura is unusual for STEM majors in the level and amount of international experience and internships she has already done, as well as her community service.”

Cadigan said she takes great pride in being the first Aggie to be a delegate in SURF.

“I’m proud and excited to serve as an ambassador for the university,” Cadigan said.

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    Photo By: Alexis Will
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