Awards and Rankings
Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement
March 30, 2015Chika Eke, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering, has been awarded a prestigious graduate research fellowship from the National Science Foundation. Eke, of Sacramento, Calif., has accepted an offer to join the master’s program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
The fellowship includes a $34,000 annual stipend for each of three years, and an additional $12,000 is awarded for each of three years to MIT to help cover tuition and other expenses.
Eke plans to obtain a master of science in mechanical engineering and pursue research that applies biomechanics to the design of rehabilitation technology. Her goal is to complete her thesis through MIT Media Lab’s Biomechatronics Group.
“The mission of this group is to use advanced prosthetic, orthotic, and exoskeletal design to restore function to individuals who have impaired mobility due to trauma or disease,” Eke said. “The NSF fellowship will be incredibly helpful in securing a research position this fall and later on for my Ph.D., since professors do not need to provide a stipend for my work.”
The fellowship will also enable her to complete research abroad through the NSF Graduate Research Opportunities Worldwide (GROW) program, which is only available to fellows.
“I would like to take advantage of the excellent research facilities dedicated to trauma biomechanics at ETH Zurich in Switzerland through GROW in the next couple of years,” she said.
Eke has been engaged in the engineering community both on and off campus during her time as a student. She has completed three internships, her most recent in a biomechanics lab, with a goal of improving the mobility and function of people with disabilities.
“These internships helped me determine my passion for experimentation within the healthcare field,” she said. “My experiences helped me increase my knowledge of the engineering research process and confirmed my interest in pursuing a graduate degree associated with biomechanics.”
Eke also credits the resources available at the Shiley School of Engineering and her professors for her academic success.
“The availability of multiple engineering clubs involving several tours and professional talks has been most effective in helping me to narrow my interest within mechanical engineering and prepare for graduate school,” she said. “In addition to being available for help with learning material, my professors have been incredibly supportive in helping me to develop a post-grad plan and notifying me of scholarship or internship opportunities that I might find interesting. Unlike larger universities where professors have limited interaction with their students, all of my professors know my name and I am often able to talk to them one-on-one without making an appointment.”