Student Profile - Aleiya Samad

Co-ops benefit on path to engineering career for Aleiya Samad

Although her Lamar experiences had her flying high this summer, Aleiya Samad is keeping her career plans Aleiya Samad large photofirmly grounded in the excellence of the university’s engineering courses and its outstanding co-op program.

This semester, Samad is gaining valuable experience in her second co-op through the College of Engineering’s Co-Operative Education program working at the BP Texas City Refinery. There she is fulfilling a wide range of tasks that couple practical experience with the theoretical knowledge she’s gaining in class.

“Co-ops are the No. 1 benefit for undergraduate engineering students at Lamar,” she said. “I have been able to get hands-on experience working with units and equipment I had only read about.”

Although originally of Long Island, N.Y., Samad and her family moved to Nederland after visiting relatives in the area when she was a child. Now she’s called Nederland home for 13 years.

When she graduated Nederland H.S. in 2008, she saw Lamar as “the perfect place to nurture my growth as a student and individual.” It is also an ideal school for engineering students because of its proximity to numerous chemical refineries, she said.

She continues to earn high marks and has been on the dean’s List and President’s List for academic achievement since starting her college career at Lamar. Her younger brother, Riyad, is also exceling at Lamar as a sophomore majoring in industrial engineering with a business minor.

“My professors take the time out of their busy schedules to have one-on-ones with their students,” she said. “It is a great feeling to learn from professors who are passionate about their respective areas of study as well as my interests at the same time.”

Last Spring, Samad participated in a semester-long technical co-op at the BP-Husky Refinery near Toledo, Ohio. There, she performed a variety of tasks including several heat exchanger surveys, collected samples throughout the refinery, gathered data on unit operations, and assisted in process performance evaluations, optimization of refinery operations, troubleshooting and process simulation.

After living 13 years in the south, she found the Ohio winter a challenge, especially the morning she awoke to find her Honda CRV encased in thick ice. Because the doors were solidly frozen she “had to climb though the hatch and crawl to the front,” she said. “It took over an hour for the car to start defrosting.”

“I learned a lot about engineering and about myself,” Samad said of the co-op experience. “I had to work a full-time job during the day and then study at night. I had to take time management to another level.”

“Engineers have daily and weekly tasks, but I have learned while working in a refinery the unexpected is to be expected,” she said. She also learned a lot about working with a diverse group. “Everyone has a voice and can make a difference,” she said.

In July, Samad became one of four Lamar University students to experience weightlessness as they conducted their carefully crafted experiment aboard a reduced-gravity aircraft as part of the “Grant Us Space” program of NASA’s National Space Grant Consortium. The four became the 12th LU team to experience weightlessness since student flights began in 1995.
The team worked for several months preparing and refining proposals, building and tweaking the experiment apparatus, and then spent a week at NASA’s Johnson Space Center Ellington Field in Houston preparing for the flights.
The team’s experiment focused on the collection of water droplets and mist by electrostatic fields. In a microgravity environment, such as that of the International Space Station, free floating liquid droplets pose a potential hazard for electrical equipment. The team proposed an experiment to demonstrate that an electrostatic field could be used to manipulate and move water droplets to desired locations under microgravity.
The experimental device the team built was comprised of two sealed containers on either side of a van de Graaf electrostatic generator. One side dispensed varying sizes of water droplets during the flight’s periods of microgravity and the other side dispensed sprays of mist. Cameras were used to record the behavior of the droplets and mist in the electrostatic field. Samad monitored the mist side of the experiment on the second flight.
“It was very much a success,” Samad said.
“Looking back, there were times I was not sure how we would finish assembling the project, but after seeing the outcome, I am so glad we endured the long hours,” she said. “The outcome was well worth it.”

“It’s a lot of hard work but it’s worth it,” she said. “Hard work and dedication lead to good things. And it was also a good way to meet other students from across the country who are interested in the same things I’m interested in.”
Samad is recognized as a model representative for her college and the university having served both as a College of Engineering Student Ambassador and a Lamar University Ambassador. She is active in the Society of Women Engineers and American Institute of Chemical Engineers as a junior officer. She is a member of the Phi Kappa Phi honor society, Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society, and Alpha Lambda delta honor society.

“Getting involved in student organizations is a great way to learn more about your school, other students, and about yourself,” Samad said. “It doesn’t matter which organization you join – you will find people with your interests and maybe become lifelong friends. And don’t just seek out organizations in your major – it is good to meet new people with diverse backgrounds.”

In addition to her course work, co-op experiences and involvement in student organizations, she also served as a student assistant in Lamar’s administration building, an experience that has added to her ability to be efficient, organized and detail-oriented – attributes that will likely serve her well in her plans to pursue graduate school for a master’s in biochemistry and an M.B.A.

“As students we sometimes fail to realize how much work it takes to run a single department, much less an entire university,” she said. “I can see similarities between working in an administrative office and in a refinery. The process forward is long, and the work is strenuous, but the accomplishments are amazing.”