Ohio State Newark launched one Buckeye engineer in the right direction
Aerospace engineering major Mohammed Oumer made connections to faculty and peers during his two years at The Ohio State University at Newark that have propelled him to connect his passion for rocket building to his future career. When he first came to Ohio State Newark, Oumer was wrestling with two career paths: surgeon or engineer. The small class sizes and one-on-one time with faculty that the campus provides have helped him gain experience in both fields to determine which is right for him.
“I chose Ohio State Newark because I could still be a Buckeye while enjoying the perks of small class sizes,” said Oumer. “In any class I took I built a personal relationship with my professors. I received opportunities due to these connections that I may not have gotten somewhere else.”
His connections to faculty and staff helped him secure and complete an internship in the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center’s operating facilities. He was an intern at the medical center during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic. This gave him unique insight into the medical environment which clarified that it was not the correct field for him.
Oumer’s connections also helped him to become a member of the Buckeye Space Launch Initiative’s (BSLI) NASA Student Launch program of which he is now the deputy manager. The BSLI is an interdisciplinary group of students focused on spaceflight and rocketry. With a roster of nearly 70 students, BSLI divides itself between three teams. He participates on the third team that is focused on the NASA Student Launch Competition, an annual challenge for students from around the United States to design, build, test, and then fly and land a high-powered amateur rocket. Oumer and his team members won the award for experimental payload design and placed third overall in the design division in the 2021 competition.
“Mohammed is exactly the kind of passionate student that we need and a great example of how a student can start a successful academic journey at one of Ohio State’s regional campuses,” said Michael Stamatikos, associate professor of physics and astronomy. “His involvement in BSLI and recent participation in the NASA L’SPACE (Lucy Student Pipeline Accelerator and Competency Enabler) Academy have given him crucial, career-aligned training experience.”
His experiences in the BLSI, NASA L’SPACE Academy in addition to his research on nuclear thermal propulsion engines have illuminated for him that his childhood interest in space, flying and manufacturing come together perfectly in aerospace engineering.
“Once I graduate, whether it be for the big companies such as NASA or SpaceX or smaller ones like Firefly or Ball Aerospace, my only goal is to build rockets, and Ohio State Newark has set me up for that.”
While he was a student at Ohio State Newark, Oumer also participated in two academic enrichment programs: Second-year Transformational Experience (STEP) and a trip to Ohio State’s Stone Laboratory at Lake Erie.
“The Stone Lab experience was one of my favorites. As an up-and-coming engineer, learning how experiments are conducted in a non-lab setting really showed me skills I have found useful,” said Oumer.
Lucille Toth, assistant professor of French and Italian, said, “Mohammed is one of those students you never forget. I was lucky to be his STEP mentor. He is passionate, curious and always ready to get involved.”
STEP students meet with a faculty mentor and a group of peers to develop personal and professional skills. They apply for up to $2,000 in funds to pay for study abroad, an internship, creative activities, leadership training or service-learning work.
“The number one thing that I learned at Ohio State Newark is that the people you meet there will push you to achieve great things. Faculty and staff will go the extra mile to help you succeed, giving you opportunities to learn and demonstrate your knowledge,” said Oumer.
He is on track to graduate with a bachelor's in aerospace engineering in 2024.