Get to know a few students, scholars, and alumni from Mechanical Engineering & Mechanics who shared with us their favorite parts of being Lehigh engineers, their advice for students just starting out on their educational journey, and their reflections on Black History Month.

Challen Enninful Adu '20

Challen AduName: Challen Enninful Adu

Education:

  • BSE Mechanical Engineering, Lehigh University (2016-2020)
  • MS-PhD Robotics, University of Michigan (2020-current)

Where are you from, and where do you currently reside?

I am from Ghana, West Africa, and I currently reside in Ann Arbor, Michigan
 
What is your current professional position?

Research Assistant and PhD student in both ROAHM Lab and EMBiRLab at the University of Michigan.

How did you first get interested in mechanical engineering?

I first got interested in mechanical engineering from watching Top Gear growing up. In high school I interned at a car mechanic’s store in Ghana, and that solidified my interest!
 
Tell us about your experiences as a STEM professional.  What accomplishment(s) are you most proud of and what do you hope to accomplish in the future?

So far I have had quite the rewarding experience in STEM. I have had the opportunity to work in various industries over my undergraduate career like the oil and gas industry and the pharmaceuticals industry to see the different roles mechanical engineers play in multiple industries. Additionally, I am particularly proud of winning the Dave And Lorraine Freed Honorable Mention for Excellence in Undergraduate Research, and the Alan H. Stenning award for excellence in an Undergraduate Engineering Project during my time as an undergraduate. Some of my most enlightening experiences were conducting research under Ganesh Balasubramanian and David Saldaña. These experiences led me to apply to do graduate school in order to continue to do research.

Now I am branching into the field of Legged Robotics for my MS-PhD and I am excited to continue to build on my mechanical engineering knowledge and to apply it to my robotics research career.
 
What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t be discouraged by constantly being underestimated because of your appearance. Keep pushing and striving for excellence.

What does Black History Month mean to you?

Black History month means appreciating and bringing a spotlight to people who are often overlooked by society, despite their many contributions to building the America we know today. Additionally, it gives me a chance to learn more about the history of people who look like me that were born and raised in America. It is rather unfortunate that we only seem to recognize the contributions of black people once a year, but hopefully this is a step forward towards valuing black people as much as everyone else.

Myles Bagley '21

Myles BagleyName: Myles Bagley

Education: B.S in Mechanical Engineering, 2021

Where are you from?

Chattanooga, TN

What is your favorite part about being a Lehigh engineer?

My favorite part about being a Lehigh engineer is taking what you learned and applying it to the
capstone project.

How did you first get interested in mechanical engineering?

My father has a degree in electrical engineering, and I was encouraged by him and men in my
church to pursue a STEM degree.  

What else are you involved with at Lehigh outside of course work?

National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and GREER Scholars

Tell us about any teachers or mentors who have inspired you to get where you are today.

I have been fortunate to still have former coaches and family friends who are mentors.  They continually check in on me and encourage me. I also get inspiration from authors like Ta-Nehisi Coates, who wrote Between the World and Me, and Susan Cain the author of the book Quiet.

What are your plans for after graduation?

Graduate School - TE Master’s Program

What does Black History Month mean to you?

This year, there has been an increased focus on diversity and anti-racism, but Black History is beyond a checkmark to me. Black history is American history. Black History  Month is the celebration of the sacrifices and hard work that black people have made each generation before me. It’s a reminder that there were black mechanical engineers before me. It’s a reminder that I should be okay to let my voice heard because black voices have been silenced. It’s a reminder to the world to celebrate blacks in athletics and the arts, but also blacks in literature, banking, healthcare, politics, law, and engineering. Black History Month is a breath of fresh air, but it is also a reminder that the work creating a just world for everyone is not done.

Jasmine Banful '20 BS, '21 MS

Jasmine BanfulName: Jasmine Banful

Education:

  • B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, May 2020
  • M.S. in Mechanical Engineering, expected December 2021
  • Technical Entrepreneurship Certificate, expected December 2021

Where are you from?

Brooklyn, NY

How did you first get interested in mechanical engineering?

In high school I had the opportunity to take PLTW courses where I learned Autodesk Inventor and EdgeCam. I enjoyed the coursework so my teachers recommended that I look into mechanical engineering.

What else are you involved with at Lehigh outside of course work?

I am involved in the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and the Lehigh After Dark Ambassadors. I also am a DJ and enjoy producing music in my spare time.
Tell us about any teachers or mentors who have inspired you to get where you are today.

Bruke Mammo was a great mentor during my undergraduate years. He was a student at Lehigh and received his B.S. and M.S. in Computer Science. He also was heavily involved in NSBE and always offered great advice on studying habits, career resources, and making the most out of my Lehigh experience. Bruke was also kind enough to pass on opportunities that he thought that I would be interested in.

What are your plans for after graduation?

I hope to work as a mechanical design engineer in the consumer electronics industry.

What does Black History Month mean to you?

Black History Month is a period of time where black stories and black people are uplifted. This month is significant because it is a great way for people to learn not only about the contributions that black people have made to America but also about the struggles that are not thoroughly taught in our current education system.

Jerard V. Gordon '13 BSE, '14 ME, '18 Ph.D.

Jerard V. Gordon Name: Jerard V. Gordon

Education: BSE/ME/PHD, Lehigh University, 2013/2014/2018

Where are you from, and where do you currently reside?

I am from Pemberton, NJ. I currently live in Ann Arbor, MI.

What is your current professional position?

I am an assistant professor in mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan.

How did you first get interested in mechanical engineering?

A math teacher in high school was a former mechanical engineer and had a large influence directing me to become an engineer. I did not know what an engineer was or did until meeting him.

Tell us about your experiences as a STEM professional.  What accomplishment(s) are you most proud of and what do you hope to accomplish in the future?

Most of my experiences have occurred within the university setting (Lehigh, CMU, now UM), but these places have been extremely helpful for my growth as a scientist and educator. This may sound cliché, but my biggest accomplishment truly is working with a lot of exceptional scientists, researchers, faculty, staff, and students, and learning so much from them. I hope to continue learning, and that my research and teaching will have positive long-term impacts on the academic community and society at large.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Truth is essential, but so is grace. Working hard is key, but so is rest. You can’t do everything in a single day.

What does Black History Month mean to you?

There is so much history that we are not taught in schools or that is not commonly known (but should be). For instance, I didn’t know until recently the first overseas missionary from America was a black man (George Liele). For me, Black History Month is a microcosm of the fuller picture of the stories of African Americans (and other black and brown people) that have historically not been told due to indifference, fear, or in order to push an incorrect narrative that only select groups of people have worth in our country. Black History Month gives the opportunity for me to see my story in both a historical and present-day context; this is something that helps to remind me that everyone has a story worth telling - whether we take the time to listen or not.

Andrea Jones '22

Andrea JonesName: Andrea Jones

Education:

I am in a 5-year program studying Mechanical Engineering and Product Design. I will attend graduation in May 2022 but will continue to take classes until May 2023.

Where are you from?

I am originally from New York, but my family recently moved to Bucks County, Pennsylvania, an hour south from Lehigh’s campus.

What is your favorite part about being a Lehigh engineer?

The best part about being a Lehigh Engineer is the sense of community. I know that I can ask my peers and professors anything. We all understand each other, to some extent, because of our similar positions.

How did you first get interested in mechanical engineering?

My interest in mechanical engineering started with my passion of sewing when I was younger. I enjoyed the process of disassembling objects and finding a way to reconstruct them again, whether it be the garments I was working on or the sewing machine. I realized I can do this on a larger scale and thus began my journey to become a mechanical engineer.

What else are you involved with at Lehigh outside of course work?

Pre-Covid, I was involved in a few clubs. I was a member of LU’s Finest Step Team which performed at Zoellner Arts Center for Fusion and DanceFest and a tutor for nearby elementary schools. Currently, I am an admissions tour guide for Lehigh University, a Lehigh Liner, and a member of NSBE (National Society for Black Engineers).

Tell us about any teachers or mentors who have inspired you to get where you are today.

Professor Hannah Dailey has inspired me more than I think she knows. Professor Dailey helped me understand the importance of taking care of your mental health while balancing a heavy course load. Her advice has helped me get to where I am today. My parents are also big mentors of mine. They are people who I can go to for any reason and who keep my level-headed.

What are your plans for after graduation?

My plans for after graduation are to be determined. However, I plan to get a full-time job that encompasses Mechanical Engineering and Product Design.

What does Black History Month mean to you?

Black History Month is a chance for everyone to remember to get an understanding of the contributions black people had in American History.

Albert J. Woody II '13 B.S., '15 M.Eng

Albert J. Woody IIName: Albert J. Woody II

Education:

  • Lehigh University, B.S Bioengineering '13
  • Lehigh University, M.Eng Mechanical Engineering '15

Where are you from, and where do you currently reside?

From Baltimore, MD and currently reside in Baltimore, MD

What is your current professional position?

Mechanical Design Engineer

How did you first get interested in mechanical engineering?

Freshman year of college during an engineering seminar course I was curious about Lehigh’s new Bioengineering department. As a student athlete, I understood the importance of recovery and healing from injuries. At the time, the department had a cell and tissue track which focused on biological science and the fundamentals of mechanics. Immediately, I thought about the orthopedic implant design process, which I thought was cool, and that is how I selected my undergraduate major.

Tell us about your experiences as a STEM professional.  What accomplishment(s) are you most proud of and what do you hope to accomplish in the future?

I have had a dynamic STEM professional career thus far. Before I took my first engineering job out of college, I became a substitute teacher in the mathematics department at my former high school. Following that I became a residential energy auditor, then a few months later I took a position as a project engineer designing HVAC systems.  Over my four- and half-year career I have designed facilities such as K-12 schools, penitentiaries, commercial buildings, hospitals, and data centers.  One accomplishment I am most proud of is passing the FE exam after being out of college for four years. I will be preparing to sit for the professional engineering exam in the upcoming months and look forward to obtaining my license.

What advice would you give your younger self?

“A good plan violently executed right now, is far better than a perfectly executed plan next week."

-General George Patton

Be ambitious with intention and embrace the unknown.

What does Black History Month mean to you?

A time to be thankful for all of the African Americans who laid the foundation upon which I and many others can continue to build on. Despite the obstacles and sacrifices those individuals made, their legacy continues to live on through the triumphs of the generations proceeding them. Whenever I perceive a task as too great, I try to remind myself that there was someone before me who had to climb a steeper mountain to reach the same goal, so why not me. Be a part of the history.

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