In Rassoul Diouf’s native Senegal, it was rare for science students to step into a lab or make something from scratch. So when he enrolled at URI, he reveled in the opportunity to make things. And the practical experience that he sought did not disappoint.
As a URI Science and Engineering Fellow last summer, he helped refine a robotic arm by programing it with a microcontroller and connecting it to Bluetooth. He later added a sensor that detects the motion of a human finger to control the arm’s movement. He also created and built a hardware-based computer game.
His senior capstone project with Siemens, the global manufacturing firm, was thrilling, Rassoul said. He and his five classmates designed an inexpensive iPad-like tablet that controls the operation of various machines.
“It’s very challenging to design a tablet from scratch,” he said. “You need to find parts that are separate and make them operate together. You get to see what being an engineer is like in the real world. Experience is so valuable once you get into industry.”
In addition to his hands-on work, Rassoul has excelled academically. He made the Dean’s List every semester, and this year he received the Saint Elmo Brady Award for Outstanding Achievement in Science from the URI Black Scholar Awards Committee.
He is still considering his post-graduation plans. He may go to work in a full-time engineering job or go to graduate school. Either way, he’s prepared for both.
“I want to make a contribution to the world,” he said. “I want to make a positive impact. At the end of the day what else would an engineer want to be doing? The field is wide open. It’s filled with possibilities.”