Samir Ali considers himself a builder and fixer by nature. He believes those skills are what every person needs to not make their own lives better, but to help the world around them. With such a philosophy, it’s no wonder that the mechanical engineering major was chosen to participate in the 2022 Station1 Frontiers Fellowship, a fully funded summer research experience that focuses on socially directed science and technology.
Frontiers Fellows participate in a 10-week virtual internship with a technology company or university laboratory. They work on a project that benefits the host site and receive mentorship along the way from Station1 staff and industry leaders. Fellows also participate in professional development activities that help them develop as socially minded scientists and engineers.
Ali was paired with 3Degrees, a startup company in Chicago that specializes in 3D printing and materials science. The CEO, Mike Vazquez, served as Ali’s mentor. In exchange, Ali and another intern developed a research guide that explains the benefits of additive manufacturing and post-processing to potential clients and investors. The experience and the industry connections he gained were what motivated him to apply for the fellowship in the first place.
“I truly believe that those who work in the STEM field have the duty to not only make people’s lives easier, but to unite them in their creations as well.” — Samir Ali, UCF student
“We interns helped Mike to boost his company and the 3D printing industry, and in return, he guided us through this process,” Ali says. “I’m grateful that we have been able to network with him and learn from such an innovative industry.”
The industry may be innovative but Station1’s goal is to make sure its workforce is also socially impactful. The higher education nonprofit aims to address key issues in STEM through its learning model, which is used in the Frontiers Fellowship. This learning model integrates STEM with humanistic fields to create more inclusive, ethical and sustainable solutions that have a positive impact on society.
As a budding engineer, Ali believes that his field should consider the impact is has on society at large.
“Technology is created and developed for humankind, by humankind. We cannot expect innovation to happen without impacting people’s lives one way or the other,” Ali says. “I truly believe that those who work in the STEM field have the duty to not only make people’s lives easier, but to unite them in their creations as well.”
Ali isn’t the first UCF student to participate in the Frontiers Fellowship. Computer science student Camila Acevedo participated in the 2019 cohort while computer science alumna Leslie Recendiz ’22 participated in the 2018 cohort.
To learn more about the honor, visit the Station1 website.