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UB engineering grads get full ride to MIT

Steven Brown, Sourobh Ghosh, Daniel Salem

(From left) UB engineering students Steven Brown, Sourobh Ghosh and Daniel Salem will attend graduate school at MIT this fall on full scholarships. Photo: Douglas Levere

By CORY NEALON

Published May 9, 2013

Steven M. Brown won’t have to look far to see a familiar face at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Neither will Sourobh Ghosh, nor Daniel P. Salem.

That’s because all three, who graduate from UB on Saturday, will be sharing an apartment when they start graduate school in September.

What’s more, each received a full scholarship to earn doctoral degrees in engineering at MIT, whose engineering graduate program has been ranked No. 1 by U.S. News & World Report since 1990.

“As soon as I got the call telling me I had been accepted, I knew where I was going,” says Brown, who is among roughly 4,800 students expected to receive degrees this May during UB’s 167th general commencement and 14 other commencement ceremonies.

Brown, who grew up in the Rochester suburb of Churchville, will earn a bachelor of science in chemical engineering and a minor in mathematics. While at UB, he completed internships at Eastman Kodak and Olin Corp., a chemical manufacturer in Niagara Falls.

Brown had been considering entering the workforce upon graduating but he changed his mind after spending the past year doing research with Mark Swihart, professor of chemical and biological engineering. Brown assisted Swihart with his research into how nanoparticles can be used to store energy, detect tumors and other uses.

Unlike Brown, Ghosh always planned to earn an advanced degree. It helps explain why he enrolled at UB, which has nationally ranked undergraduate and graduate programs in engineering.

“One of the big reasons that I chose to attend UB was because I know there is a lot of opportunity to do undergraduate research,” says Ghosh, who is from Pittsford, roughly 20 miles east of Churchville.

A dual major—he will earn a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering and a bachelor of arts in economics—Ghosh worked under the guidance of Kemper E. Lewis, a professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. With Lewis, Ghosh analyzed disruptions to the product-development processes of companies such as Airbus and Boeing.

The experience, he says, was invaluable and helped him to be among 2,000 students nationwide chosen for the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program. The award, worth more than $100,000, will pay for the PhD in mechanical engineering that he expects to earn at MIT.

Salem, from Liverpool, also received a fellowship from NSF. (Brown received a full scholarship from MIT.)

Like his future roommates, Salem is member of UB’s Honor College. Additionally, both he and Ghosh were among 13 UB students this year to receive the SUNY Chancellor’s Award, which recognizes individuals who excel in academics as well as leadership, community service and other endeavors.

A past recipient of the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, Salem will receive a bachelor of science in chemical engineering and a minor in mathematics. He, too, did research at UB, mostly focusing on improving batteries with professors Swihart and Kenneth J. Takeuchi.

He will enter MIT’s PhD program in chemical engineering.

“I am tremendously proud of Daniel, Steven and Sourobh!” says Liesl Folks, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “They have accomplished wonderful things here at UB and our faculty will be following their future careers with great interest, knowing that each of them will have significant impacts at MIT and in broader contexts in the years to come.”

Because Salem and Brown were in many chemical engineering classes together at UB, they know each other well. And they’ve always been friendly with Ghosh, whom they met through a mutual friend a few years ago.

The trio decided earlier this month to room together in Cambridge, one of the nation’s most expensive cities to rent an apartment, to save on expenses. Plus, they admitted, it’ll be nice to have a few friends upon moving.

“I suppose we’re going to get to know each other a little better,” Brown says.