Versatile and Adaptable to Solve Tomorrow’s Challenges

Zemichael Gebeyehu '24

"Lehigh is a well-rounded institution that has a diverse set of disciplines to study whether you would like a specific discipline or to pursue interdisciplinary education, Lehigh has it all. From housing one of the world’s largest universal testing machines to alums inventing the first working escalator, Lehigh is a melting pot of arts and engineering infused in the historical and one of the most beautiful college campuses in the nation. You can feel the innovation and creativity of students around campus whether it is in a classroom or on student teams."

Q: How has Lehigh prepared you to take on tomorrow’s challenges?

A: Being able to participate in various projects with different problems to be solved taught me how to be versatile and adaptable to solve tomorrow’s challenges. Additionally, Lehigh’s multidisciplinary approach to engineering education adds significant value for me to be a well-rounded engineer. Not only did Lehigh’s rigorous engineering curriculum allow me to explore the intricacies of various engineering concepts, but it also allowed me to develop systems engineering thinking and achieve the overall big picture in these challenges.

Q: How do you balance academics and all of your impressive extracurriculars?

A: I value my extracurricular activities as a pathway to implement the fundamental engineering principles directly to real-world problems and learn even more out of a classroom environment whether it is designing aerodynamic packages of a racing car or a Mars Rover. I mostly dedicate my weekends to extracurricular activities, especially my involvement with engineering student teams to help design, manufacture, and test various projects. I was able to learn valuable time management and careful planning skills, which in turn helped me balance academics and extracurriculars. I believe that such extracurricular activities help students to internalize the fundamental concepts of engineering design and equip students with the necessary skill set to succeed in industry or academia.

Q: Can you tell us a little about the Lehigh University Space Initiative club that you founded?

A: To create more engagement for students who are enthusiasts of spaceflight and astronautics, I founded the Lehigh University Space Initiative Club along with three other students at Lehigh in the Fall of 2021. I currently serve as the president and engineering design lead for our club. Our goal at the space initiative is to create a community of students who are passionate about all things space and provide experiential learning opportunities through hands-on engineering projects ranging from Mars Rovers to nanosatellites and space mission design. In addition to being a student club on campus, we are also a chapter of the Students for Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS-USA). Currently, our main flagship project for this year is a Mars Rover as part of our participation in the University Rover Challenge (URC) 2023, a premier robotics competition that challenges students to design, manufacture, and test a Mars Rover, competing with teams from all over the world at the Mars Desert Research Center in Utah. We currently have an interdisciplinary team of more than 20 students working on the project. We also have ambitious plans to design, build, and launch Lehigh’s first CubeSat into space by utilizing launch opportunities such as the NASA CubeSat Launch Initiative in the upcoming years.

Q: You are doing research on campus, can you tell us about that and how you connected with the professor(s)?

A: Currently, I am an undergraduate researcher at the Unsteady Flow Laboratory under my advisor, Prof. Moored. During my first semester at Lehigh, I met with my academic advisor and discussed my interests in undergraduate research opportunities in the Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics Department. My academic advisor recommended I reach out to my current research advisor since I was very interested in research areas of aerospace engineering and fluid mechanics. That is how I was able to connect with my research advisor. I joined the research group in the spring semester of my first year at Lehigh. Since then, I was fortunate enough to work on two projects that involve bio-inspired design approaches to solve various engineering problems. The first research project that I was involved in focused on the design, development, and testing of a bio-inspired rotorcraft through custom vertical wind tunnel testing as well as using Lehigh’s closed return wind tunnel. I was very fortunate to learn the basics of experimental design, instrumentation, and even how to operate a wind tunnel as a first-year student! Currently, I am part of a research project that studies the schooling of fish to understand hydrodynamic interactions and design the next generation of fast and efficient schools of underwater vehicles. I was able to participate in the 2022 David and Lorraine Freed Undergraduate Research Symposium and showcase the project to a larger audience at Lehigh.

Q: What has been your biggest passion project thus far over your college career?

As part of my club’s nanosatellite program, we are currently in the design phase of a CubeSat, HawkSat 1865. It is a 3U (10 CM X 10 CM X 30 CM) nanosatellite with an onboard UV-based telescope to study Be stars and massive stars. Personally, I think this is an astonishing project to design something that would operate in the harsh environments of space and support scientific investigations. I was able to design and build a 1U (10 CM X 10 CM X 10 CM) low-cost Attitude Determination and Control System (ADCS) and test it in a zero gravity environment as part of Aurelia Institute’s inaugural maiden research zero-gravity flight, representing the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE).

Q: What is your favorite thing about Lehigh?

A: I have a lot of favorite things about Lehigh, but the top two things are the following. The first thing would be the amazing people at Lehigh! From supporting faculty and staff to hardworking and passionate students, I am fortunate to learn and work on exciting things with incredible people at Lehigh. The second thing would be Lehigh’s unparalleled emphasis on experiential learning. I love the various learning opportunities that exist in student engineering teams and undergraduate research experiences.

Q: Where is your study spot of choice on campus?

A: My favorite study spot is Packard Lab!

 

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Major: Management - Human Resources
Hometown: Chaska, MN