Giovanni Orlandi was a sophomore knocking out his General Engineering requirements when he found himself unsure which path he wanted to take to graduation, but then he enrolled in Mechanics of Materials, a class taught by Dr. Fadi Abdeljawad.
The first time they met outside class they talked about a homework problem Dr. Abdeljawad had assigned, but they later expanded their discussions to include the assistant professor’s research into the nanoscale origins of materials properties.
Those talks had an impact. Giovanni, now a rising junior, has selected mechanical engineering as his major and is conducting research with Dr. Abdeljawad over the summer. Giovanni has also been named a Jansen Family Emerging Scholar, a program Abdeljawad has recently begun overseeing.
“He opened a lot of doors for me and has given me a lot of opportunities,” Giovanni said. “I think he’s been crucial. I’m grateful because he didn’t have to do that. He has been a mentor to me.”
Giovanni will have a chance to pay the favor forward.
As a Jansen Scholar, he will join three others in organizing a series of events aimed at bringing together mechanical engineering students. The idea is to connect students who are just starting in mechanical engineering and sometimes a little unsure about their path forward, as Giovanni was last year, with students who are mentor material, as Giovanni is now.
Jansen Family Emerging Scholars launched in 2017, thanks to a generous donation from mechanical engineering alumnus Patrick Jansen, and his wife, Carey. The new faculty lead, Abdeljawad, is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering with a joint appointment in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.
Giovanni decided to apply to Jansen Family Emerging Scholars after hearing Dr. Abdeljawad mention the program in his class. Giovanni, who has previously served as a tutor, likes that he will have some creative freedom to improve the department and the chance to continue teaching undergraduates.
“I see people helping me, and I’m like, ‘This is great. I want to do that for other people,'” Giovanni said. “Mirroring that feeling onto other people is good.”
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