Q: Why did you choose to become an engineer?
Onase: I chose to be an engineer because I grew up in a community where more lives were lost due to bad roads than sickness. With my skills as an engineer, I can address road failures (such as potholes and bridge collapse), one of Africa’s biggest Infrastructural challenges.
Q: What brought you to UD?
Onase: My desire to acquire knowledge from top researchers that will make me better positioned to address pavement distress made me sought for Professors in the United States whose research interest aligns with mine. Fortunately, I found my advisor’s profile, Dr. Malladi, who worked on recycling materials (asphalt), a novel research area in construction and pavement engineering.
Q: What are you working on for your thesis?
Onase: I am working on sustainability in asphalt pavement by incorporating Reclaimed Asphalt Pavement (RAP) materials. The objective of this research is to carry out laboratory tests to determine the moisture susceptibility of Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA) mixtures with various ratios of RAP, standardize an image capturing and analysis procedure to quantify the amount of stripping in each asphalt mixture, use a colorimeter device to quantify the color of laboratory test specimens and determine a correlation between these methods.
Q: What was your favorite course or instructor?
Onase: I took courses in the civil engineering and statistics departments, and each course I took was worth it. All the instructors were great and had input on my research and career.
Q: What activities do you do outside of research and classwork?
Onase: Outside of school, I am a husband and father, so when I am not working on my thesis I am with my family. I serve in leadership positions; I am currently the Graduate Student Government (GSG) senator representing the Civil and Environmental Engineering department and chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) committee. I am also an iBuddy mentor, and an EmPOWER peer mentor. Aside from these roles, I also visit the gym and play tennis and soccer when I have free time.
Q: What has been the biggest difference between being an undergraduate versus graduate school?
Onase: Being a graduate student involves being independent. Your research is based on your findings; you work alone. Sometimes you are stuck on a problem, and the most help you can get is probably from your advisor. In my case, I am my advisor’s only student, which means I can’t even look for help within my peers. In undergraduate, there is always somewhere you can find help from professors or even peers from the same class you are in.
Q: What advice do you have for students who are considering graduate school?
Onase: If you are not certain about graduate school, do a lot of research and seek advice. You should have a passion for what you want to study. The research might not go the way you want, and there are days you might feel you want to give up but remember what brought you here in the first place.
Q: Anything else you’d like to share?
Onase: I want to thank my advisor Professor Haritha Malladi for her insight and support towards my research and professional development. I am grateful for being a part of the Hengineering community at the University of Delaware. Not only is it a very conducive environment for learning, but it’s also a place where I have been able to integrate my extracurricular activities and still maintain honors in my grade.