“The co-op at the (Laser Shock Processing) lab was tremendously beneficial to my learning. It exposed me to the work engineers undertake as Ph.D. candidates and the processes of scientific research in general. I got the chance to see how scientific studies are conducted from beginning to end,” Dennery says.
UC offers co-ops and summer research experience as a complement to the Stokes program. The Laser Shock Processing lab is just one site that participates in the collaborative program with Cincinnati State as a complement to the Stokes program. Professors Vijay Vasudevan (mechanical engineering) and S.R. Mannava (mechanical and materials engineering), who coordinate the Laser Shock Processing lab, are strong advocates of the Stokes programs.
Dennery said he learned that insufficient attention to detail and lapses in critical thinking often threatened the integrity of the study he was working to complete. He is thankful for the early learning opportunities.
“Had I not participated in the program, such errors may have occurred later in my career, in situations where the consequences might have been more regrettable than several extra hours of lab work,” says Dennery.
Dennery earned his associate’s degree in three semesters. He attributes the speed with which he completed the degree to his Stokes training. He even had the pleasure of presenting a poster highlighting his team's research at the Louis Stokes Midwest Center of Excellence conference later that year, titled “Effect of UNSM on Residual Stress, Microstructure, and Properties on Nuclear Alloys 600 and 800 highlighting.”
“My journey with LSAMP has allowed me to realize previously unrecognized potential. It has tested my character and forced me to adapt to challenges that I had simply evaded before,” says Dennery.
“The (Laser Shock Processing lab) has been an excellent resource for Cincinnati State LSAMP scholars and students who participated in the Ohio Space Grant Consortium,” says Kenneth Simonson, principal investigator for the LSAMP grant and the recruitment and yield specialist for UC's Office of Inclusive Excellence & Community Engagement at CEAS. Since 2014, the Laser Shock Processing lab has supported 18 Cincinnati State students. The Ohio Space Grant consortium supported Dennery with a scholarship when he transferred to UC.
Upon completion of the summer semester, Dennery started classes at UC as an undergraduate computer engineering student. The transition was rather jarring, and not just because he had only one weekend to rest in between semesters.
In the following months, he discovered that he preferred mathematics courses to the engineering curriculum, and made the decision to transfer into the UC mathematics program in fall 2018. He is on track to graduate by August of 2023.
It remains to be determined how Dennery will apply his experiences in STEM fields.
“I had little hope for success in any career, if not for the intervention of LSAMP,” he explains. “LSAMP provided the formation, education, and opportunity I needed to overcome barriers to success, whether they be barriers to opportunity in the external world, or barriers I imposed on myself.”
Dennery is currently considering a career in law. His parents are both attorneys. Over the past summer, he worked for his father's bankruptcy firm applying the analytical tools he accumulated by virtue of STEM training to the proper management of their databases and the evaluation of marketing efforts. Dennery is ready to take his critical thinking skills wherever he goes next.