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May 28, 2024

From Ohio to India: Nathan Gajowski’s engineering journey

Nathan Gajowski in India.

Growing up in a Cleveland suburb, Nathan Gajowski had a knack for tinkering with gadgets and dreaming up new inventions. After finishing high school, Gajowski wanted to study engineering. Ohio State seemed a perfect fit with its top-notch engineering program and affordable in-state tuition.

His first two years at Ohio State were full of exciting classes, hands-on projects and general education credit. “I had an amazing experience in the fundamentals of engineering honors track which exposed me to a wide variety of engineering fields and developed my logical thinking and technical writing. I also enrolled in holography which allowed me to get hands-on with both physics and art while creating my own holograms,” reflects Gajowski.

“During my second year, I joined an engineering project team, Buckeye Current, that builds and races electric motorcycles. I played a major role in the design, fabrication, and assembly of a battery pack for an electric motorcycle,” recounts Gajowski. This experience landed him an internship with the Harley Davidson Motor Company as an electric vehicle test engineer.

But as Gajowski learned more about big-company engineering, he realized it wasn't his true calling. He wanted to be on the cutting edge, pushing boundaries and exploring new ideas. So, he started looking for research opportunities back on campus. He discovered the Krishna Infrared Detector K.I.N.D. Laboratory and under the guidance of Sanjay Krishna, Gajowski dove into the world of semiconductor technology and loved it.

“The research position in the KIND lab helped me explore my interests in the field of semiconductor technology, which I ended up enjoying immensely. Even as an undergraduate, I actively contributed to the development of characterization setups and the advancement of semiconductor devices,” explains Gajowski.

Gajowski with professor Bhaskaran and his wife.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in May 2022, Krishna offered Gajowski a graduate research associate position in his group if he started a PhD program. He jumped at the chance to keep pushing the limits of what's possible in engineering.

“I continued my work at the cutting edge of technology by working on advancing the field of infrared sensitive materials and devices. Ohio State’s world class research facilities have allowed me to grow and characterize novel semiconductor materials that will be used for the next generation of semiconductor infrared devices,” says Gajowski.

Thanks to a grant from the Frontier Science and Engineering Research Center, Gajowski got a chance to travel to India and work with Bhaskaran Muralidharan, an expert in the field of advanced semiconductor transport modeling at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay.

“My time working under Professor Muralidharan taught me about modeling these processes and gave me new tools and understanding of the physics behind the semiconductor devices I hope to experimentally demonstrate,” notes Gajowski.

But his experience in India was more than just about work in the lab. The sights, the sounds, the smells were very different from home. Gajowski soaked up everything India had to offer, from the delicious food to the rich culture. He made friends from all over the country, each with their own stories to tell.

Gajowski hiked Sameer Hill in Bombay with a friend.

“Upon arriving in Mumbai, I was instantly immersed in culture completely new to me. I found it easy to make friends on IIT Bombay’s campus, and I greatly enjoyed learning about India’s rich culture and food. Everyone I met was passionate about their background, local traditions, and cuisine. It has been great to meet so many people from all around India. Although we have very different backgrounds and experiences, we were able empathize and learn from each other because we are motivated by the same human emotions.,” says Gajowski.

Looking back on his time in India, Gajowski realizes just how much it changed him. Traveling to a place so different from home opened his eyes to new perspectives and made him appreciate the world in a whole new way.

“I believe this exchange experience has made me a more well-rounded person, more grateful, and happier in life overall. I was even able to visit the Ohio State India Gateway and share my Buckeye experience with admitted undergraduate students and their parents. It felt great to share my story, answer their questions, and give back to the university in a small way,” describes Gajowski.

As he shares his story with others back at the Ohio State, Gajowski hopes to inspire more students to step out of their comfort zones and explore all the amazing opportunities the world has to offer.