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November Undergraduate Engineer of the Month has sights set on space

An interest in understanding other cultures has influenced Zoe Lee in her studies, volunteer work and career path

Zoe Lee Undergraduate Engineer of the Month for November

Zoe Lee. Photo/Corrie Stookey/CEAS Marketing

Zoe Lee, a mechanical engineering major who is minoring is astrophysics and philosophy, was awarded the Undergraduate Engineer of the Month distinction from the University of Cincinnati’s College of Engineering and Applied Science for November 2019. 

Early on, Lee decided she wanted to nurture a broad worldview through travel as well as campus connections to international students.

“The international Co-op program is really what sealed the deal for me to come here,” she said. 

Lee left her comfort zone for her first co-op as an engineering teaching assistant at Chongqing University in China with UC’s Joint Co-op Institute. The language barrier during her first co-op propelled Lee to learn Japanese before her two co-ops at IHI Aerospace Co. in Tokyo, where she researched acoustic liners for airplanes using analytical and simulation analysis. 

She was selected by Manish Kumar, Ph.D, UC mechanical engineering professor, for a co-op conducting fuzzy logic unmanned aerial vehicle or UAV research in Kumar’s UC lab, which included working on the problem of integration of UAVs into the National Airspace System by developing algorithms to impart “sense and avoid” capability.

Lee presented her findings at the 2018 ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition and is currently writing a conference paper on her results. She has also conducted astrophysics research with UC professor Michael Sitko, Ph.D., analyzing star spectra for use in future research papers.  

Lee’s dream is to become an astronaut. She will be attending a space engineering graduate program following her graduation in 2020.

“One thing that really sticks out to me about space engineering is that it’s a very international field. You have people from all over the world, working toward this common goal of space exploration,” Lee said. 

Lee infused her college experience with a multitude of clubs, volunteer opportunities and community engagement at UC and beyond, often in a leadership capacity. Inspired by the positive influence her Student Orientation Leader and CEAS Peer Leader had on her freshman experience, Lee took on both of those roles in her sophomore year. 

She spent two years as the president of the astronomy club, building membership, coordinating guest speakers and planning stargazing trips, and this experience opened her eyes to the possibility of becoming an astronaut.

She served in leadership roles for International Partners and Leaders, a student volunteer group that aids in welcoming international students to UC; Engineers Without Borders, which included a trip to Tanzania to work on a clean-water project; and the American Society of Safety Engineers.

Lee also created a video about international student experiences for Worldfest Week 2016, mentored UC students with developmental disabilities with Transition and Access Program and volunteered with Into the Streets and Habitat for Humanity. She even finds time to sing in the choir at her church, St. Monica St. George.

She has received the Red Rose Award for Leadership through Cincinnati Women in Excellence and Spirit Together and was inducted into Alpha Lambda Delta and Omicron Delta Kappa honor societies. Lee is also part of the University Honors Program.

Featured image at top: Zoe Lee poses on UC's campus. Photo/Corrie Stookey/CEAS Marketing

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