Meron Dibia

Meron Dibia 2012

Physics, mathematics minor
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Meron Dibia was chosen for an internship. But this one wasn't like most college-student internships. For starters, it was a year long, took her to Seattle to make a presentation at an international conference and ended with a published report in an academic journal.

In addition, the Bluffton senior received a $5,000 scholarship as one of only 17 students chosen for the experience from a nationwide applicant pool of 122.
Dibia, from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, worked with Dr. Stephen Harnish, professor and chair of mathematics at Bluffton, on a project involving molecular dynamics simulations and the Ohio Supercomputer Center in Columbus. Specifically, she wrote computer programs for simulations of sound-wave vibrations in various solids, such as iron or copper.
Objects have their own distinct vibrations, explains Harnish, Dibia s mentor in the research. The idea is to better understand how they behave at different temperatures and pressures and when they're struck, whether by a hammer or, when the objects are buildings, by an earthquake. In the latter case, tracking vibrations to see what kind of sway buildings take on in an earthquake could be useful information, he says.
"I was interested in the research because it involves physics and math, which are my major and minor, respectively, and also computer programming, which I really enjoy," says Dibia, whose internship was through the National Computational Science Institute. "In addition, I wanted to gain experience in research for grad school and possibly my future career."
Harnish was aware of her graduate-school goal, as well as her motivation, intellectual curiosity, persistence and excellent math skills. "That blend looked just right to me for success with the project," he adds. 
Dibia made a poster presentation at an international supercomputing conference in Seattle. Her work culminated with her report in the Journal of Computational Science Education in May 2012. 
After graduation, she planned to pursue graduate studies in electrical engineering specifically "because I want to work on electric cars," says Dibia, an engineering major at Adama University in Ethiopia before coming to Bluffton.
Considering climate change and global oil issues, she adds, electric-powered cars are the next sensible thing to do, because we need another option.


"I have completed the internship at the end of last May. I am now currently doing a summer internship at The Ohio State University in Center for Automotive Research (CAR). I am looking to get into the PhD program in OSU's Electrical and Computer Engineering department."

July 2012