Alpha Gassama

Class of 2021
Major: Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Minor: Technology Entrepreneurship
Hometown: Upper Marlboro, MD
High School: Charles Herbert Flowers High School

What Made You Decide to Attend UMD?
I liked the opportunities that UMD offered to its engineering school since it is in the DC metropolitan area and close to several big organizations in the chemical engineering industry. I also liked how I can have a small town feel but not be too far from big cities like Washington DC or Baltimore. Personally, I also enjoyed how beautiful the campus is and wanted to be a part of it.

Best Experience with a Class or Project
"My best experience with a class, believe it or not, is still my over sand vehicle (OSV) project that I had to help create with my ENES100 engineering team. Did the OSV work and complete the mission required of us? Absolutely not! But it taught me a valuable lesson: part of engineering involves failing sometimes but the best engineers accept the responsibility and learn from it. Also, it was really fun and I enjoyed playing with the chemicals to test pH!

Favorite Class
CHBE440: Chemical Kinetics and Reactor Design

Favorite Class Out of Major
AASP-202: Black Culture in the United States

Student Organizations/Extracurricular Activities
Black Engineers Society American Institute of Chemical Engineers - Treasurer, African Student Association Omega Chi Epsilon - (Chemical Engineering Honor Society), Intramural Sports (Basketball and Co-ed soccer)

Favorite On-Campus Event
NextNow Fest

Favorite Research or Study Abroad Experiences
My favorite research experience was at my REU internship at the University of Delaware. I got the chance to work with very hydrophilic gels called hydrogels and test how their structure changed inside special polymer solutions. I also had the ability to create peptides to help other researchers see how proteins responded in these hydrogels as they changed. It was cool to see how these special hydrogels mimic our body's extracellular environment.

Cool Engineering Experience
A cool engineering experience was my trip with my Engineers Without Borders team to Sierra Leone to install solar panels for a school there and an AC circuit system. I (safely) helped install new racking on the roof, carry the panels, and do a lot of hands-on building while problem-solving with a team. I also had a lot of fun talking to the children of the school during free time or just bonding with my engineering team.

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