Taking on the Big Leagues
Omar El Safty ‘18 will be stepping onto Stanford University’s campus this fall, fully funded by the university to complete his master's and PhD in mechanical engineering.
El Safty studied mechanical engineering at AUC, graduating with highest honors in Spring 2018. He was a research assistant in the Department of Mechanical Engineering for most of his undergraduate years, working hands-on alongside his professors on projects with practical impact, including ones involving the human heart. He spent two summers as a visiting researcher at the University of Sunderland in the United Kingdom and interned with Schneider Electric Egypt.
News@AUC spoke with El Safty to learn more about how AUC shaped his path to Stanford.
What was your path as an undergraduate at AUC like?
During my sophomore year, I became interested in working on research projects. I managed to convince one of my mechanical engineering professors to have me work with him as a research assistant. One thing led to another, and I managed to get a three-month research internship in the United Kingdom during the summer of 2015, which extended to another three-month internship for the following summer of 2016.
Most of my activities outside classes involved research work. However, I did join a few clubs at AUC: the Mechanical Engineering Association, Astronomy Club and Robotix Club.
After that, I started working with my solid mechanics professor, who happens to be the person who inspired me to study solid mechanics, on multiple research projects.
How did AUC shape your path to Stanford?
I wouldn't be here if it weren't for the professors who helped guide me into this field during my years as an undergraduate. I didn't start out with a love for mechanical engineering. It was only after taking courses with them and working with them as a research assistant that I really came to love this field. I've also met a few like-minded students, all of them also currently doing their graduate studies abroad, who influenced one another and helped shape each other's paths so far.
"AUC is actually a paradise for ambitious people — plenty of opportunities."
What does being fully funded to complete your master's and PhD at Stanford mean to you?
When I found out, it was 2 am, and I was about to go to sleep when I got an email from Stanford saying "A decision has been made regarding your application. Please check your account." Such an ominous sounding message — it was quite nerve-wracking. Nonetheless, I opened my account and sure enough, I saw the word "congratulations," and that was enough for me to not be able to fall asleep for the next few hours. I was ecstatic. Receiving this funding means that I'm one step closer to achieving my goals.
What are those goals?
Ultimately, my goal is to live a happy, meaningful life. So that would involve making significant research contributions to my field — contributions that would make society better off.
Where do you see your AUC and subsequent Stanford degrees taking you professionally?
As of right now, I still want to get into academia, so hopefully they'll take me to a professorship at a world-renowned university. But obviously I hope that if I chose to work in the industry (R&D), I'll be able to find a nice job.
"I wouldn't be here if it weren't for the professors who helped guide me into this field during my years as an undergraduate."
What advice do you have for AUC students interested in your field?
Right now, AUC is actually a paradise for ambitious people — plenty of opportunities. So, for the students who read this, get a head start and start seizing these opportunities.