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What The Ohio State University is doing with Student Experiential Engagement  

Columbus, Ohio – Many Universities around Ohio are focused on partnering with industry to provide Student Experiential Engagement (SEE) with the goal of retaining graduates within the Ohio workforce. The Ohio State University provided a great example on Friday, November 4, 2022, when they held an event during which students presented research and development updates on the “Affordable LIDAR Technologies for IntegraTion and Unmanned Deployment (ALTITUDE)” project. ALTITUDE is funded by The Ohio Federal Research Network (OFRN) via its fifth funding round, and the students are participants of the OFRN-driven SEE initiative. SEE aims to recruit and hire student interns on an OFRN-funded research and development project and provide them the opportunity to work and learn throughout the duration the project.   

ALTITUDE team members include The Ohio State University, the University of Dayton, Sinclair Community College, SK Infrared, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), and the NASA Glenn Research Center. 

Dr. Sanjay Krishna, professor and George R. Smith Chair in Engineering at The Ohio State University, gave opening remarks and an overview of the project.

“I was very excited to see the high quality SEE student presentations. They were actively engaged in discussions with fellow student, industry, and federal partners. It was also great to see Brandon Jacob, program technician, Unmanned Aerial Systems, Sinclair College National UAS Training and Certification Center, who was in the first ALTITUDE intern cohort, earn full-time employment at Sinclair and actively continue to engage with current students. Strengthening these professional relationships will have a long-term impact on the R&D and economic development ecosystem within the State of Ohio, especially with the recent interest in semiconductor devices and circuits for microelectronics and optoelectronics.” 

The students’ presentation topics included test & measurement, field spread measurement, assembly, characterization, and design for the light detection and ranging (LIDAR) technology.  

The student presenters included:  

  • Mariah Schwartz, PhD Researcher, The Ohio State University 

  • Sophie Mills, PhD Researcher, The Ohio State University 

  • Ming Wei, Masters Researcher, University of Dayton 

  • Nathan Gajowski, PhD Researcher, The Ohio State University 

  • Amber Arquitola, PhD Researcher, The Ohio State University 

  • Alexander Skender, PhD Researcher, University of Dayton 

The OFRN team met with the students and asked them questions about their experiences working on the LIDAR technology and where they see their future careers. 

What inspired you to participate in this OFRN-funded program?  

“I thought it was really cool that it’s a partnership between Ohio and the federal research opportunities, and I think it’s a great way to grow the connections between schools around Ohio. I think one of the coolest parts about the program is that we got to meet with other students that are doing pretty different work, but it all comes together on this project.” – Nathan Gajowski 

“I knew that I wanted to be a part of the program from the start, but once I started hearing about a bunch of things regarding laser technologies that I had no idea about, that’s what really spurred me to keep interest and to further my education so that I can better understand what’s going on. It’s been really encouraging, exciting, and fulfilling to pursue.” – Brandon Jacob 

What does your participation in this program mean for your future?  

“I think being a part of this program kind of opens your eyes to the opportunities in different areas of work in Ohio and research fields. I think it’s a unique partnership because we get to interact with professors from other areas and universities, like Sinclair and the University of Dayton. A lot of the students are interested in industry, so this is a very large group of L3 Harris, SK Infrared, and AFRL. We can kind of get a view of what working at one of those entities might look like in the future and how that can kind of shape as we're going through our PhD program.” – Mariah Schwartz 

“I really think that all the different aspects of the project from the LIDAR set-up to the detector development really models how a big industry project would be. Normally, I would just be looking at the detectors and I’d never see the full system but, with this project, I can do that.” – Amber Arquitola  

“I have a couple different routes I’m thinking about – potentially staying in academia or going industry and working for NASA. If I go the latter route – we’re working with NASA on this project, so that’s helping me a lot with that goal. I’m really excited to see what it’s all about!” – Sophie Mills 

The OFRN program has the mission to stimulate Ohio’s innovation economy by building statewide university-industry research collaborations that meet the requirements of Ohio’s federal laboratories, resulting in the creation of technologies that drive job growth in Ohio. Follow all OFRN updates by subscribing to our newsletter here


About Parallax Advanced Research 
Parallax is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that tackles global challenges by accelerating innovation and developing technology and solutions through strategic partnerships with government, industry, and academia across Ohio and the Nation. Together with academia, Parallax accelerates innovation that leads to breakthroughs. Together with the government, Parallax tackles critical global challenges and delivers new solutions. Together with the industry, Parallax develops groundbreaking ideas and speeds them to market. 

About the OFRN 
The OFRN has the mission to stimulate Ohio’s innovation economy by building statewide university/industry research collaborations that meet the requirements of Ohio’s federal laboratories, resulting in the creation of technologies that drive job growth for the State of Ohio.