Graduate Student Contributes to Innovation in the Aircraft Industry

photo of MSE Graduate student Ummay Habiba at Additive Manufacturing Center (AMC) lab

MSE Graduate student Ummay Habiba at Additive Manufacturing Center (AMC) lab


By: Katie Nejati, Student Written Communications Assistant

Habiba always had a fascination about experimental and laboratory-based research work. Her attraction to research started during her graduate studies in her home country, Bangladesh, which focused on ferromagnetic materials for cancer treatments and for ecofriendly refrigeration systems. While conducting this research, she realized that the impacts of materials scientists in our society are not confined just to engineering, but actually in every sector of life either directly or indirectly. This influenced Ummay in pursuing a career in materials science and engineering (MSE).

Habiba earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in applied physics, electronics and communication engineering at the University of Chittagong, Bangladesh. As her research drew her interests towards materials science and engineering, she decided to continue her education at the UConn MSE department. She had also been attracted by the department’s large pool of talented faculties and the state-of-the-art research opportunities. Although Habiba entered the PhD program with a non-materials science background, she felt that the core courses were structured appropriately for students like herself. “The comprehensive nature of these core MSE courses helped me well in settling in to MSE based research,” she said.

Habiba’s current work is exploring the application of additive manufacturing in the aircraft industry. Working under the supervision of Professor Rainer Hebert, she especially focuses on the surface and thermal properties of powder using the ESI Additive Manufacturing system. This is a prototyping software which simulates a product’s behavior during testing, manufacturing and real-life use. Powder spreading in particular is a crucial part of the additive manufacturing process, which if implemented well can diminish the weight and cost of various aerospace components and hence can strongly impact the industry.

Habiba shares that, “I have an 8-month-old boy. There is a myth for women that they have to choose between PhD degree and a family. Many people think that if they want a family, they do not have what it takes to be a successful researcher. This simply is not the case. There are many women and men who are both devoted parents and partners, and also highly successful researchers.”

Habiba’s career goal is to do something significant and revolutionary for the aircraft industry through her current research. In addition to the inspiration which comes from her research topic, and the broader support from UConn’s MSE department, she appreciates the expert guidance from her advisor Professor Herbert. “I am very fortunate to get the opportunity to work with a very supportive and professional supervisor, who has provided us a very positive work environment with strong connections to industry” she said. “I absolutely love what I do, and I am lucky to be able to work on what I love.”

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