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Buckeye engineer forges her own path to success

On May 7, the College of Engineering will welcome more than 1,600 Buckeye engineers and architects into the alumni family. As we countdown to commencement, we'll introduce several members of the Class of 2017 who made the most of their Buckeye education both in and out of the classroom.  

Upon her arrival to campus four years ago, welding engineering student Joan Lee hit the ground running. With some exposure to biomedical engineering research already under her belt, she started working as a research assistant for Biomedical Engineering Associate Professor Gunjan Agarwal during her first semester as a Buckeye.

Lee decided to continue engaging in research and participated in the Research Education for Undergraduates program the summer after her freshman year, working at Ohio State’s Center for Electron Microscopy and Analysis (CEMAS).

As a part of the inaugural TEK8 program during her sophomore year, Lee worked to design challenges for middle school students at KIPP Academy based on her research experience at CEMAS, spreading enthusiasm and excitement for engineering.

“I was really inspired by the TEK-8 class,” she said. “As someone who got into engineering because of the education in middle school, I know how important early exposure to engineering is for young students.”

After her sophomore year, Lee began working as a welding engineer intern at GE. There she learned about the company while working on parts that have a welded component.

In lieu of returning to campus for her junior year, Lee spent a semester in Warsaw, Poland as a research assistant at the Institute of Aviation. When she returned to the United States, she completed a double rotation as an intern at GE before returning to Ohio State to finish her undergraduate career and continue her work at CEMAS.

At CEMAS, Lee connected with research specialist John Sosa, creator of the Ohio State-developed image analysis software, MIPAR. She began working with Sosa on commercializing MIPAR, becoming product manager.

“At MIPAR I am wearing all different hats. Some days I’ll be the PR person, some days marketing and some days I’ll be doing design work,” said Lee. “It was so exciting because I was able to make the job my own.”

After graduation, Lee will participate in GE Aviation’s Edison Engineering Development Program. The highly selective, multi-year program provides technical and business training for the best and brightest recent graduates, only accepting 40 students.

“The idea is that the program will get you ready with a technical background for GE through various rotations,” she said.

As the first welding engineer in the program, Lee will spend two years in Cincinnati completing rotational projects and an AB course. Then, she will return to Ohio State to complete her master’s degree before her last rotation. 

Supplementing her Buckeye engineering education with research positions and internships has allowed Lee to expand upon what she learned in the classroom and gain real-world experience.

“When you are in an internship you have this freedom where people know you are still learning,” she said. “That is the best time to learn as much as you can, make all of the mistakes you can and talk to as many people as you can.”

by Emily Lehmkuhl, College of Engineering student communications assistant

Tags: Students