Honda Dreams Scholars gain valuable hands-on experience

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Designed to help students bridge the gap between high school and college, the Honda Dreams Scholarship is changing the course of students’ lives through access to higher education.

Supporting diversity in both the college and field of engineering, Honda Dreams Scholarships are awarded to students majoring in electrical and computer engineering, industrial and systems engineering, or mechanical engineering who are active in the National Society of Black Engineers, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers or organizations with similar missions. Recipients have a unique opportunity to develop relationships with Honda associates, apply for co-ops at Honda and get involved with collaborative projects between Honda and Ohio State.

Elijah Thomas presents to Honda executives
Thomas presents to Honda executives and Dean Ayanna Howard

Honda Dreams Scholar Elijah Thomas participated in a co-op term in Honda’s Procurement Business Unit at the Indiana Automobile Plant this summer. He is an industrial and systems engineering senior at The Ohio State University.

“The Honda Dreams Scholarship program has supported and challenged me throughout my college journey,” said Thomas, a Cincinnati native. “I have had a good relationship with Honda the last two years, especially with Shubho Bhattacharya, who has provided me valuable insights about the program and my development.”

"In alignment with the strategic priorities of the Honda–Ohio State Partnership, the Honda Dreams Scholarship program demonstrates Honda's commitment to increasing diversity in the workforce development pipeline for Honda, as well as the automotive industry as a whole," said Bhattacharya, senior manager at Honda and co-director of the Honda-Ohio State Partnership.

​Thomas’ co-op experience at Honda’s Indiana Automobile Plant provided hands-on, real-life experience in application of his engineering education.

Elijah Thomas working on the Honda factory floor

“Through my experience with Honda’s Procurement Business Unit at the Indiana Automobile Plant, I worked with a diverse team supporting quality and delivery across all functions of the plant," he said. “I’ve been able to see many of the challenges that can pop up in the plant and how to resolve it to keep the line running. I have learned a lot about the plant and the process of manufacturing cars.”

Thomas has accepted an offer from the same department for another co-op term in summer 2024 at Honda’s Marysville Automobile Plant in Ohio.

The first cohort of Honda Dreams Scholars will graduate in Spring 2024. To date, nine students majoring in electrical and computer engineering, industrial and systems engineering or mechanical engineering have been awarded the scholarship, some over multiple years, helping them achieve their dreams and providing a pathway to a career in engineering in the automotive industry.

Meredith Reffey, manager at Honda and member of the Honda-Ohio State Partnership team, organized a visit to Honda’s East Liberty Automobile Plant in Ohio recently, where Honda Dreams Scholarship students visited with plant leadership and diverse engineers at Honda, toured the plant and explored co-op and full-time opportunities. Students also visited the nearby Transportation Research Center.

Lathania Escobar-Soto job-shadowing Honda’s Rachel Ratnasingham
Lathania Escobar-Soto (left) job-shadowing Rachel Ratnasingham at the Marysville Auto Plant

Honda Dreams Scholars Regina Akrong-Lamptey and Bethany Massenburg-Jackson, both majoring in electrical and computer engineering, have previously had co-op terms at HDMA Auto Development Center’s In-Vehicle Infotainment group. And ISE major Lathania Escobar-Soto had the opportunity to job-shadow with Rachel Ratnasingham, Engineering Coordinator at Honda and Industrial and Systems Engineering graduate of Ohio State and her fellow associates in HDMA Supply Chain Management Business Unit/Supply Chain Packaging Department. Following this experience, Escobar-Soto has accepted an offer for a co-op position for summer 2024 in that same department.

“I am truly grateful for receiving the Honda Dreams Scholarship, as it allows me to further focus on my studies and additional development opportunities during my time at Ohio State,” said Escobar-Soto. “I am excited to take on a co-op position within the Supply Chain Packaging department at Honda in Marysville next summer.”

Two other ISE students are also among the current Honda Dreams Scholarship recipients: senior Maggan Sheikh and sophomore Imani McInnis. Sheikh has accepted an offer for a co-op term in autumn 2024 at Honda’s Marysville Automobile Plant, in the Vehicle Quality Department. And McInnis has accepted an offer for a co-op term in summer 2024 at the same plant, in the Weld Department.

The Honda Dreams Scholarship program is part of the long-standing Honda–Ohio State Partnership, which is a unique collaboration between the two organizations, supporting initiatives in education, research and public service to positively impact students, faculty, public and private sector practitioners, and the transportation industry. Honda has donated more than $68 million to Ohio State throughout the 20-year relationship, funding faculty, students and programs.

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