Where are you from?
I was born in Lagos, Nigeria, then later moved to Stevenage, England. I now live in New York with my family.
Why did you choose UB?
I chose UB because of its affordability, engineering facilities, and size. I had just relocated with my family, and I knew UB’s size and diversity would enable me to meet many new people and explore different opportunities.
Why did you choose to go into engineering?
In secondary school, I enjoyed getting involved in technical challenges and robot competitions. Also, math always came as second nature to me, and I had great teachers that taught in a way that made me passionate about the sciences. I enjoy doing things that I am good at, and engineering combined my strengths and interests. I also felt that with engineering, I could explore new challenges every day and stay on my toes.
What do you like most about engineering at UB?
I like the friendships and connections I have formed within the engineering community at UB. It has always been easy to find study groups and like-minded individuals within the community. Upperclassmen are willing to share advice, old textbooks, and tips and tricks to help study. I’ve spoken with professors about my interests, and they provided me opportunities within their lab or elsewhere. For example, when I talked to Dr. Ciprian Ionita, my faculty advisor, about my interest in cardiovascular devices, he allowed me to watch surgeries at the Gates Vascular Institute downtown.
What is your favorite place on campus?
My favorite place on campus is the Biomedical Engineering (BME) building Bonner Hall, which contains BME labs such as the cell culture lab, bioinstrumention lab, and biosignals lab. Bonner Hall also contains the Design Studio and Digital Manufacturing Lab (DML), which house the 3D printers I work with as a member of the 3D printing working group. I also work in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Advising office, which is also located in Bonner Hall, on the fourth floor.
What are you working on right now?
I am preparing for graduation by networking with engineers within the medical device manufacturing field. I am also exploring different opportunities in UB to cover any skill gaps in my portfolio. Also, as the treasurer of the UB chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), I am working on club sponsorships to provide funding for the national convention.
What else do you do on campus?
My positions as both an academic tutor and the treasurer of NSBE allow me to give back to underclassman. I also work as a student assistant for Dr. Andrew Olewnik, the Director of Experiential Learning Programs. I have also been a part of the 3D Printing Working Group on campus and have enjoyed taking part in some Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) events.
What motivated you to get involved in NSBE, the National Society of Black Engineers?
Before I joined NSBE, I felt the impact of lack of representation in my classrooms and engineering panel events. From the first meeting, I was exposed to such a determined and professional group of engineers, I wanted to join and learn as much as I could from them. Joining NSBE reignited my motivation and through the connections I made in the club, I was able to learn and feel more confident going after industry positions.
What have you done that you are most proud of?
I worked in a team of three to compete in the virtual D’Youville Healthcare Hackathon Competition in fall of 2020. Over a week, we worked on the project, put together a presentation and proposed a solution to target access to healthcare. We won 1st place. Read more on the competition here!
What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about global access to healthcare. I want to be part of the design and development process of practical, affordable, and accessible medical devices.
Has there been a particular faculty or staff member that has been formative during your time at UB, and how so?
I have worked with Dr. Andrew Olewnik for two years and have learned a lot from him. I attended a project management workshop he led, where he identified skills and practices required to tackle a real-world undefined problem vs. a defined problem given by a professor. I also learned about some fundamental engineering principles and jargon that I’ve successfully mentioned during interviews. As his student assistant, I have learned from his professionalism and well-organized emails and have implemented these observations into my methods.
What are your future plans?
I plan to work for a company that manufactures cardiovascular devices as a sustaining R&D engineer. I have an internship lined up for summer 2021, but I am also applying to full-time roles and grad schools.
What is your advice for prospective students?
GET INVOLVED! The University at Buffalo is a large institution with a lot of opportunities to offer. It’s okay not to know what you want to do coming in as a freshman, but the more you talk to people, the more you know what is available to you, and the more you get involved, the more you will know what you enjoy doing.
Boluwatife Ibitayo received the 2020 Professor Howard Strauss Memorial Scholarship from the UB Engineering and Applied Sciences Alumni Association (UBEAA).