Graduation Semester

In two weeks the fall semester will start here at Illinois Institute of Technology. It will be my graduation semester, and I will reach to the end of my journey with my bachelor degree.

The journey started in 2009 as I concluded my secondary school studies and examinations and was admitted to The University of Damascus to pursue a degree within the Electrical Engineering school.  As I recall that time five years ago, I remember that it was a very unique period in everyone’s life; a time of hope, dreams and transformation as we entered university.  In 2012, I decided to further specialize my field in the area of Renewable Energy department that The University of Damascus launched recently. And it was where I started to study with a deep intellectual and professional energy (and sustainable – no pun intended). I found my passion in this major. A very unique curriculum, which covers an up to date issues that face the civilization with the shortage on fossil fuel.

By this time, the conflict in Syria began to escalate; 2013 represented a turning point in my life happened when I received a scholarship from Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. There are no words that could explain my feeling when I received the email informing me that I was invited to transfer to Chicago. It was so different from what I used to. At Illinois Tech, the labs, the researches, the discussions that I had with my peers (new friends from Syria, Chicago and the other 90+ countries represented at IIT) were just amazing.

In my second semester I got accepted to Pure, a program for Undergraduate research in Engineering at IIT. My research was under the Energy theme, and I studied the fuel consumption in the commercial trucks and came with my professor John Shen in the ECE Department to an innovative idea to reduce this consumption by avoiding the idling motor, which will save the energy and reduce the emissions of the truck. This opportunity was very remarkable because it gave me the chance to take a close look on the academic life, how to write proposal for a research, who to look up in the tons of resources in the Galvin library so you can reach for the information in efficient way, and at the very end how to present the result in a simple way so it will caught the attention of other researchers.

This summer I got an internship with AllCell, a leading company in the Hybrid Electric Vehicle technology, and solar power. The amount of the practical experience
that I am gaining is tremendous with so many implications for future study, innovation and invention.  This is “learning by doing and making” – a most remarkable  internship further enhanced by the diversity of the team of 75+ employees at AllCell.  Specifically, I am working with the Engineering Team some of them are alumni from IIT. They are very supportive and they keep answering my questions with a smile.

My graduation semester won’t be easy at all; I will be studying while keep working with AllCell Company. There will be new challenges, new experiences that I am
willing to face and learn, and new ways to think about how all of this work will contribute to the rebuilding of Syria.

Safouh Takrouri

Armour College of Engineering

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