“Get involved in an extracurricular activity that can give you hands-on skills and practical experience that will be useful for internships and a job.”
Nasef Junaid is passionate about materials science and engineering – and the Rutgers Formula Racing team. Here the senior from South Brunswick, New Jersey talks about his experiences in and out of the classroom.
Why did you choose Rutgers School of Engineering?
At the time, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be too far away from home and family, and Rutgers was close to home. At Rutgers Day, I saw there would be a lot of opportunities to get involved in whatever major I chose.
Why did you choose to major in materials science and engineering?
As a freshman, I was undeclared as all engineering students are. I’d been interested in mechanical engineering, but after I went to MSE Night and toured different labs and talked to students, I got interested in MSE and the different areas of research and concentrations seemed really interesting to me.
What in particular interested you?
I was interested in metallurgy and packaging and in working with glass and ceramic coatings. I’ll be graduating with certificates in both metallurgy and packaging.
Has any course stood out for you so far?
The course on physical metallurgy was my favorite because of Professor E. Koray Akdoğan and the subject matter. I learned a lot from the course and enjoyed learning about metals.
Do you have a favorite professor?
I think Dr. Akdoğan would be my favorite. He was passionate about teaching and his detailed lecture notes made sure we understood the subject matter.
Have you had any internships?
I’ve had two. The summer when I was a rising junior, Professor Ashutosh Goel helped me get an internship at Sterlite, an optical fiber manufacturer.
This past fall, I had a three-month internship at the NASA Langley Research Center in Virginia. I worked in a chemistry lab synthesizing polymers and testing properties. It was a pretty cool experience. The interns even got to drive out to a launch site one weekend to see a rocket launch.
What about research projects?
Through the Rutgers Aresty research program, I worked on a materials project with Dr. Goel. We were studying the crystallization effects of certain elements on how different glass was crystallized. I prepared glass batches, melted glass in the furnace, and poured it out to make glass and help analyze the samples.
What is your senior design project?
I’ve been part of the Rutgers Formula Racing team, which designs, builds, and races a car every year, since I was a freshman, so I wanted to do a project related to cars and materials. One year, I saw a team use an aluminum brake rotor that was coated with ceramic material to protect it. I’m now working independently with a faculty advisor to test different ceramic coatings to see how they stack up against what we use on the team car.
What do find exciting about being part of the Formula Racing team?
Each year, our car races against schools across the U.S. and a few international schools. I make composite parts and test them to make sure they meet expectations and validate the car’s design goals.
We design our cars to corner a turn at a really high speed. That’s where we make up time. Teams with more powerful engines might go faster on straightaway, but we go faster while turning.
Besides building the car, we also defend our engineering and financial practices and decisions at the competition.
How has the team done?
This past June, at one competition, we got 5th place overall and 1st place in two of the racing events. This was the best result in the team’s history.
What do you do in your free time?
I spend most of my free time working on the Formula Racing car. Some team members can spend as many as 40 hours a week building and testing the car. I also enjoy playing video games and watching something on Netflix.
Did you see Ford v. Ferrari?
It was a great film.
What are you doing, now that you've graduated?
Do you have any advice for new students?
My advice would be to try to get involved in an extracurricular activity that can give you hands-on skills and practical experience that will be useful for internships and a job. The Formula Racing team helped get me my internships – I had practical experience in being given engineering tasks and getting them done.
How might you give back to SoE in the future?
The Formula Racing team has an active alumni network that gives advice or donates to the team so they can order and buy more parts if needed. I also received an MSE scholarship and also hope to be able to give back to the department.