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Great grads

On May 6, 2018, the college welcomed more than 1,200 new alumni into the Buckeye engineering family. Meet a few members of the class of 2018 who combined their passions with Ohio State’s offerings to engineer an extraordinary education.

Inspiring women to take flight: Yasmine Abu Arab

Chicago native Yasmine Abu Arab knew she wanted to study aviation at a big school with big opportunities. After one visit to Ohio State and its airport, she decided to become a Buckeye.

The 2018 Lady Buckeyes Air Race Classic team (l to r) Aly Bond, Josie Cotugno and Yasmine Abu Arab

“The person who gave the airport tour talked about all the things that the College of Engineering was doing to support the flight program,” Abu Arab said. “That sold it for me because I knew that I would be supported as a student.”

Now as Abu Arab prepares to graduate, she’s working to ensure that the Lady Buckeyes Air Race Classic team takes off as an Ohio State tradition.

Last year she and fellow pilot Natalie Higdon proposed that the university’s Women in Aviation chapter form a team for the Air Race Classic—the nation’s oldest and only airplane race for women pilots. The idea quickly gained support, and Abu Arab and her teammates made it happen.

After a successful non-competitive run in 2017, the Lady Buckeyes aim to finish in the top 10 this year. Abu Arab will be one of three women flying in the race in June.

While the team wants to do well, what Abu Arab considers most important is the opportunity to be a role model for future women aviators.

“That’s one of the most important parts to me about the race—representing women in the field and hopefully encouraging young girls to join as well,” she said. “I think this air race is a really great way of doing that.”

Helping humanity with robots: Lisa D’lima

Lisa D’lima believes it’s important for engineers to build things. She credits her own experience building underwater robots with helping her land a job as a product design engineer with Amazon’s Lab 126.

Lisa D’Lima stands near the Bill and Mae McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion pool as the Underwater Robotics team tests their robot. [photo: Jo McCulty]After learning about the engineering student project teams based at the Center for Automotive Research, the mechanical engineer quickly gravitated to the one focused on robotics—Ohio State’s Underwater Robotics team.

“I wanted the experience of being able to actually build something and have an engineering project that I could say, I created that and this is what I learned,” D’lima said

First, she helped build the team’s remotely operated vehicle. Then in 2016, when D’lima was vice president, the team switched gears and developed an autonomously operated vehicle called Riptide. Most recently she helped design parts for Riptide, including an actuation system.

In 2017, the team made it to the semifinals of the International RoboSub Competition. This year they want to win. Doing so will mean equipping their robot to successfully complete challenges such as dropping a chip on a spinning roulette table underwater and shooting torpedoes into the correct slots of a slot machine.

It’s just one of many problems this Buckeye engineer intends to solve in the future.

“I would like to create something that will help people,” D’lima said. “I think robots can be used to improve lives. I want to be part of that.”

From LA to the stars: Wilson Flores

When Los Angeles native Wilson Flores first arrived at Ohio State he didn’t know anyone, but that quickly changed after he became involved in student organizations.

“I joined Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and it quickly became a group of friends, and ultimately it was like a second family,” he said.

Dean David B. Williams congratulates Wilson Flores at the College's of Engineering's Pre-Commencement celebration.Having a strong support system is what drew Flores to the university. “A faculty member became my mentor before I said yes to Ohio State, allowing me to see that I would not be alone here and that I could be successful even far away from home.”

The aerospace engineer continued to join and even serve in leadership roles of several organizations throughout his academic career, including SACNAS - Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science and Buckeye Space Launch Initiative, which soared to first place in the 2017 Spaceport America Cup.

His favorite one is the Engineering Ambassadors program because it allows him to share his story and show future students that they too can succeed here.

“I love that organization with all my heart because it’s given me an opportunity to give back to Ohio State,” Flores said.

Wilson’s involvement also helped him stand out to prospective employers. After graduation he’ll launch his career at the National Air and Space Intelligence Center in Dayton, Ohio, where he’ll also be a part-time graduate student at the Air Force Institute of Technology.

“I’ll be able to do exactly what I wanted,” Wilson said. “So I’m pretty excited.”

Passport to a global career: Annie Graff

Growing up Annie Graff wanted to become a doctor, but after learning about the biomedical engineering field during a weeklong summer camp, she decided it would be a better fit.

Annie Graff spent 10 weeks as an intern at the Reutlingen Research Institute in southwest Germany.“I realized I pass out when I see the sight of blood and probably shouldn’t be a doctor,” Graff said. “But this way I can still make an impact and improve people’s health and lives.”

At Ohio State she majored in materials science and engineering and took technical electives related to biomedical engineering.

Studying abroad in India ignited her passion for humanitarian engineering. There she met the doctor who develops the Jaipur foot—a simple, low-cost prosthetic. “My dream job would be to design medical devices for lower-resource communities because those are the people who need it the most.”

She also spent 10 weeks helping with tissue engineering research at the Reutlingen Research Institute in Germany. That internship cemented her desire to pursue an international engineering career.

Both experiences also helped Graff complete the Global Option in Engineering program—something she credits with enabling her to stand out to graduate schools. After graduation she’ll begin a bioengineering master’s program at Rice University and will spend 10 weeks in Costa Rica this summer as part of the global innovation track.

“In today’s workforce it’s so important to be able to understand different cultures,” Graff said. “Taking the steps to get the global option really has helped prepare me for that."

Student-athlete success: Nicolas Szerszen

After graduating from high school in France, Nicolas Szerszen knew he could either play volleyball professionally or go to college to become a mechanical engineer. But not both.

Nicolas Szerszen is the career leader in kills, points, service aces and aces per set for Ohio State's men's volleyball team. [Photo: Kevin Fitzsimons]He decided to follow in his sister’s footsteps and become a Buckeye.

“I got a scholarship for volleyball and knew Ohio State had a good engineering department and volleyball program,” Szerszen explained. Choosing to attend Ohio State was “obvious to me.”

As an engineering student he has managed to successfully balance a demanding workload with a rigorous athletic schedule and helped the Ohio State Men’s Volleyball Team win back-to-back National Championships. His honors include being a two-time First Team All-American and the NCAA Player of the Year. 

“It is really about knowing what you need to learn and focus on, and how effective you can be with your schedule,” said Szerszen.

He also finds a lot of similarities between athletics and engineering

“In engineering you do a lot of group work where you can be the leader of your group, or be the follower and listen to the one that has a better knowledge than you,” he said. “I think the team spirit is pretty similar in both sports and engineering.”

Szerszen is still undecided about the route his future will take. For now, he aims to return to Europe after graduation to continue playing volleyball. While developing his engineering career will come later, he’s proud to be a Buckeye for Life.

“I can’t even imagine what my life would have been like if I didn’t choose Ohio State,” he said in a video aired on Big Ten Network.


by Candi Clevenger, College of Engineering Communications,

Student-athlete success by Holly Henley, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and Candi Clevenger.

Tags: Students