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Students accelerate on road to success

Deontae Wright in the lab
ECE student Deontae Wright working with semiconductors in the lab during the ACCELERATE program.

A new summer enrichment program at The Ohio State University College of Engineering is empowering second-year students to succeed in their academic and professional careers.

ACCELERATE—which stands for Academic Enrichment and Career Development for Undergraduates—is an 8-week summer bridge program that aims to prepare rising second-year Buckeye engineers with academic and professional experiences to help them thrive as future leaders.

ACCELERATE programming enhances student problem-solving skills, exposes them to key concepts necessary for matriculation in their engineering program and provides them with hands-on problem-solving experience through team, project-based learning.

“Upon completing their first year at Ohio State, engineering students can have limited options for internship opportunities because of their lack of experience,” said Dr. Edwin Lee, program manager for retention and student academic success in the college’s Office of Diversity, Outreach and Inclusion. “ACCELERATE provides students with opportunities to work closely with faculty to gain exposure to research experiences available at Ohio State, participate in design projects guided by these subject experts and move closer to graduation by taking a course in their major.”

With generous support from General Motors, ACCELERATE was piloted in the summer of 2021 with 12 students in a mostly virtual format, although the goal is for future cohorts to be in-person. As part of a focus on career autonomy exploration and metacognitive problem-solving skill development, students participated in “master class” workshops in which a professional engineer taught students about the unlimited possibilities in engineering careers.

“Students spent two sessions with Dr. LaVonda Brown, who is the CEO of a startup called EyeGage,” said Lee.  “In the sessions, she had students come up with ideas for their own startups, mapping their current interests to future possibilities.”

Deontre Wright in the lab
ECE student Deontre Wright measuring a device in Prof. Siddharth Rajan's lab.

Participants also had the opportunity to engage in hybrid hands-on learning experiences with faculty in the Departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE). The first part of the summer was spent introducing students to various areas of research within the departments, followed by interactive lectures on key topics. Students then engaged in hands-on projects—ECE projects were related to advanced semiconductor devices and nanotechnology, while the MAE project involved building a balsa wood bridge and testing it to see how much weight it could support before breaking.

ECE students and brothers Deontae and Deontre Wright said the ACCELERATE program left them with many valuable and memorable experiences, particularly the research component.

“Connecting with Dr. Siddarth Rajan and taking on the task of understanding and working with semiconductors was definitely our favorite part of the ACCELERATE program,” said Deontae. “With this being our first introduction to research, we did not know what to expect working in a real lab setting. Fortunately, we were given the chance to connect with some very helpful graduate students. With their guidance and mentorship as well as Dr. Rajan’s, we became acclimated to the research environment quickly.” 

Lee said the goal is to offer the program on an annual basis and grow the cohort to 20 students. With additional funding, the program could accept up to 36 participants. While ACCELERATE is open to all second-year Buckeye engineers, programming and activities are designed to increase the number of historically excluded and underrepresented students in engineering. To learn more, visit

by Meggie Biss, College of Engineering Communications |