Four MechSE students selected for Mavis Future Faculty Fellowship
MechSE graduate students Hyeongyun Cha, Mohamed Elhebeary, Anthony Fan, and Hyun Jin Kim have been named Mavis Future Faculty Fellows.
The Mavis Future Faculty Fellowship program, through the College of Engineering at Illinois, helps develop future generations of engineering professors. With this Fellowship comes opportunities, such as seminars and workshops on teaching, as well as the responsibility of mentoring an undergraduate or junior graduate student. The intention of the program is to assist talented, motivated, and ambitious graduate students from the college in their transition into academia.
Cha is currently working with Assistant Professor Nenad Miljkovic studying superhydrophobic surfaces.
“While we need to do very good research, we also have to be a good mentor and teacher,” Cha said. For anyone applying to the Fellowship, Cha recommended that students discuss both their previous experience in teaching as well as their plans for the future.
Elhebeary’s work surrounds mechanical testing of micro/nanoscale samples with Professor Taher Saif.
“Since I started my career in doing my master’s degree and going through to my PhD, I’ve been thinking about becoming a faculty member,” Elhebeary said, adding that he believes this program will help him develop his mentoring skills.
Elhebeary advises anyone applying to the Fellowship, “In the application process, it’s important to mention both your strengths and weaknesses regarding your previous research, teaching, and mentoring activities. In addition, you should emphasize on how you are engaged with the society where you live, and highlight how your background affected your goals.”
Fan also works with Professor Saif, focusing on the biomechanics of the nervous system.
One aspect of the Fellowship that Fan commented on specifically was the guidance from faculty members for applying to jobs in academics. The application to become a faculty member requires both a research statement and a teaching statement.
“It’s like when you’re applying to college, when you write those essays,” Fan said. “And these people have gone through them extensively and they read thousands of applications, so it’ll be very helpful in that aspect.”
The important things to focus on in the Fellowship’s application are breadth and ambition, according to Fan.
“Your package should show your expertise for the research and also the breadth of the entire Illinois experience--whether you started teaching, or have done research, mentoring, writing, all other stuff,” he said. “When you become a faculty member for the first six or seven years, when you’re an assistant professor, what do you want to be known for?”
Kim works with Professor Tony Jacobi, conducting thermal-fluidic sciences research with applications related to heat exchangers with complex micro- and mini-channels.
She reflected on mentoring students before the Fellowship, saying, “I’ve had several mentees since my second year of grad school, but I always felt that I wasn’t maybe doing a very good job keeping them excited about the research and making them apply for grad school. But thinking back, I realize that nobody really taught me how to actually do this mentoring. And I am really excited that finally I will feel like I’m actually doing a good job.”
“At Illinois, we’ve been trained to be good researchers and I know some people trying to talk a lot about their research on this application, but I think this one is more about the vision,” Kim said. “What you are going to do with this research and if you could maybe teach these cutting edge things to future generations.”
Another tip for those applying, is to talk about any service you may have done on campus. Kim said, “I actually had a lot of things to talk about regarding my previous service for the university community, especially for the female engineers and scientists through Graduate Society of Women Engineers (GradSWE) and the Women Empowered in STEM (weSTEM) Conference.”
More information on the Mavis Future Faculty Fellowship can be found here.