Dennis Kibalama '17

Driving economic growth

Ohio State an incubator for sustainable mobility

Fueling a new future

Dennis Kibalama dreams of a day when he will see more "Made in Uganda" labels on the products he buys.

Coming to Ohio State to study engineering wasn't about what he wanted to be.

It was about what he wanted to do.

In his homeland of Uganda, nearly 65 percent of the population lives on $3.10 or less daily. But the nation aspires to become a middle-income economy by 2040: a vision for the future that includes good jobs, quality health services, empowerment through education and a clean environment.

"Every Ugandan has a part to play," Kibalama says. "I saw myself playing a part through automotive engineering — a passion of mine."

Kibalama and his colleagues at Kiira Motors Corp. are building a new automotive industry in Uganda. Starting in 2018, the company's assembly plants will produce Africa's first cars and buses fueled by solar and electric power. If the company succeeds, thousands of jobs could be created for Ugandans.

To do his best for his country and Kiira Motors, Kibalama needed to gain a deeper understanding of clean automotive technologies. Ohio State was his top choice because of its winning EcoCAR program at the Center for Automotive Research.

As part of a nationwide competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and General Motors, students are reengineering a Chevrolet Camaro to reduce its environmental impact without sacrificing the high-performance consumers expect out of a quintessential American muscle car.

The 40 students on Ohio State's EcoCAR team represent a range of majors and gain hands-on experience with engineering, marketing, educational outreach and more. Kibalama was the electric propulsion system lead engineer, contributing to the high-voltage system's design and integration, implementation and testing.

Kibalama celebrated another first-place finish with the EcoCAR team this summer before returning home with a master's degree in electrical and computer engineering from Ohio State. He's eager to get to work — to create green vehicles, to pioneer a new future for his country.

"Growing up, my parents instilled in me the value of education — saying you can really change the world with it," Kibalama said. "I am really excited to see something I had a hand in on the road. It gives me great pride and joy that it is actually made in Uganda."

+ Read More

Mentoring a new generation

By day, Shawn Midlam-Mohler teaches in the College of Engineering's Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and directs the Simulation Innovation and Modeling Center.

By night, he coaches students to become EcoCAR champions.

Play buttonSee his impact

Power of Partnership

Since 1979, General Motors has partnered with Ohio State to support students, research and outreach initiatives.

Most recently, GM granted $115,000 to the College of Engineering to attract and retain students from underrepresented groups, especially women, to pursue STEM degrees and careers. The donation will fuel three of the college's diversity programs, including the expansion of two summer programs for high school students at the Center for Automotive Research (CAR).

GM is at home at CAR, where the iconic company and Ohio State have conducted more than 70 research collaborations in the last decade. The center houses Ohio State's EcoCAR team, which has captured top honors four years consecutively in a national advanced vehicle technology competition sponsored by GM and the U.S. Department of Energy.

"GM has been a great partner for us in research as well as in the education of students through this competition,” said Giorgio Rizzoni, director of CAR.“ They understand that serving the industry at large is part of their mission if the American auto industry is going to continue to succeed going into the next century."

x-plus-y image

Customizing his educational experience

For electrical and computer engineering student Evan Stoddart, a research project at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center brought him to the intersection of advanced mathematics and the new frontier of regenerative medicine.

As a sophomore, Stoddart worked as an undergraduate research assistant in the Osteo Engineering Lab, applying mathematical algorithms to determine where microscopic holes should appear in a jawbone scaffold created with a 3-D printer. Those holes allow stem cells to infiltrate the scaffold — growing from the inside out to form a bone where one previously didn’t exist.

"My views of myself as an engineer changed," Stoddart wrote in a recap of his Second-year Transformational Experience Program (STEP) project. "I can do a lot to change the world around me. Because of my passion and skill with technology, I can design and create systems that will really make a difference."

Whether you're planning to change an entire country's car industry or lift up one community by providing a healthy harvest, you'll find the support to make it happen at Ohio State. Maggie Griffin is another student who found her place at Ohio State.

Read Maggie's Story View All Stories