Published: March 8, 2021 By

Emmanuel Bamidele in the Engineering Center
Emmanuel Bamidele

Emmanuel Bamidele is a third-year graduate student in the Materials Science and Engineering Program, studying under Professor Rishi Raj of the Paul M. Rady Department of Mechanical Engineering. Bamidele was recently nominated to join the Sigma Xi Scientific Research Honor Society and joined the Materials Research Society. He earned his undergraduate degree in metallurgical and materials engineering at the Federal University of Technology in Akure, Nigeria.

What brought you to CU Boulder?
CU Boulder’s graduate engineering programs are reputable, and there is lots of interesting research going on here. Many of the professors at CU are leaders in their field and are among the best in the world. My decision to choose CU for graduate school was greatly influenced by those reasons. I was also fascinated by the beauty of the campus: the pictures I saw with many red brick buildings, the beautiful campus layout and the Flatiron mountains in the background reinforced my decision to attend CU.

What is the focus of your research thus far? What problems do you hope to solve?
I’m currently working on the study of flash sintering and related phenomena in tungsten and its composites. This is in collaboration with Professor Alan Weimer’s group in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. The project is combining three exciting technologies—additive manufacturing, atomic layer deposition and flash sintering—to achieve doping, direct ink writing and sintering of high-density tungsten parts.

What attracted you to the MSE program?
The MSE program at CU Boulder allows students to choose an adviser from different departments. This was particularly interesting to me. I considered this an opportunity to choose from some of the best professors in the world. I was also fascinated by the fact that the MSE program at CU is very young but has found its way into the top MSE programs in the country—and even in the world. How else can we define quality?

How has the program benefited your research?
The program has been very supportive. As a new student back in 2019, the system was new to me, and I had to figure out so many things in order to get up to speed. The MSE graduate advisor was very helpful in ensuring I settled in properly, as he introduced me to many PIs. I’ve always had massive support from the graduate advisors and my program director—even when I thought things were going to crumble. 

What is a problem or challenge you encountered as a student here, and how did you overcome it? Who gave you a helping hand?
One challenging problem I encountered was having to change labs during the COVID-19 pandemic. I felt like it was almost impossible to get into another group in such a short time that I had. I was particularly scared of becoming stranded after leaving my then-lab. I reached out to Laramie and Alex, the MSE graduate advisors, and that was a turning point for me. They understood how I felt, and they offered me more support than I expected. They made sure I had a TA option for the next semester, and they also put me through the process of getting in touch with potential advisors. That worked out perfectly, and I got into an interesting research group in a short time. My program director, Professor Robert McLeod, was also very nice, and the different faculty members I reached out to were very supportive.

How do you strike a balance between your work as a student and your personal life?
The way the MSE program is structured makes it easy to engage in many other activities without sacrificing performance. Being in the beautiful city of Boulder has allowed me to explore many interesting activities like hiking, biking, participating in interesting cultural events and concerts downtown and attending concerts in Denver—especially whenever my favorite African artists like Davido, Femi Kuti and Burna Boy come around. Although some weeks are very demanding, which is normal in a doctoral program, I'm still able to create time for many interesting activities with proper planning and doing what I have to do at the right time.

Why might you recommend MSE to students considering a graduate program in science and engineering?
I will recommend taking your time to look at the research going on in the different departments affiliated with MSE, then reach out to the professors in those labs and talk to them about your background and what you find interesting in their work. An opportunity to study at CU Boulder is one to relish, and the MSE program is a great destination for international students that might be worried about having supportive advisors and colleagues. Everything around here is set up to make you successful, both during and after your study.

Where might you want to go next after earning your PhD?
I might join a reputable company with great culture and core values that aligns with mine, as my current research is setting me up for that, and I am getting the best guidance and mentorship that will help me achieve that. My long-term goal is to attain top leadership positions in government, international organizations or reputable companies to directly or indirectly solve challenging problems in different sectors.

What do you do for fun in your spare time?
I’m a big fan of soccer, so I enjoy watching soccer games and I occasionally play with friends in nearby fields or at the Rec Center. When I have a week or more to spare, I like to travel to different states or countries, taste new food and experience new culture.

What is your favorite film(s), book(s), sport(s) or other media-related interests, and why? Do your interests in art, literature, and cinema have an influence on your research and goals as a materials scientist?
I enjoyed seeing a film called Silicon Valley. For books, it is difficult to choose between The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. I listen to different genres of music, but I love African music a lot. I’m a soccer and basketball fan—my favorite soccer team is Manchester United, as is any team Cristiano Ronaldo is playing for.

My interest in literature and the curiosity to explore the reasons behind the uniqueness of certain stories has influenced my perspective as a researcher. I now see research beyond just placing bricks of data in the tower of knowledge but as part of a process that delivers impactful insights. I believe a great idea or innovation is just another idea or innovation if it is not properly conveyed.

This has helped me place significant emphasis on the power of writing. Beyond just storytelling or publishing, the way we write and convey an innovation has some degree of proportionality to the impact of that innovation. One of my goals as a materials scientist is to leverage the power of good writing and storytelling to push my work beyond the laboratory to become a product, or to influence policies that benefit different businesses and the common man.