West Windsor, N.J. – Two Mercer County Community College (MCCC) students, Oluwadamilola Olorode and Sanjit Singh, will make the most of their summer as they partake in academic research at renowned institutions.
Born in Nigeria, Olorode moved with his family to the United States in 1999. After stints in South Orange and New York, he landed in West Windsor in 2008, where he attended West Windsor-Plainsboro (WWP) High School North.
Currently a second-year Mathematics major, Olorode will head to the 2019 Summer Undergraduate Research Institute in Experiential Mathematics at Michigan State University (MSU), where he will work under mathematics faculty on applications of combinatorial games.
He found the internship at the suggestion of Assistant Professor of Mathematics Kyle Anderson. “He recommended I browse through the National Science Foundation (NSF) website, which is filled research opportunities like this one,” Olorode said.
Originally an electrical engineering major at Cooper Union, Olorode decided to change gears. “I took a year off after leaving Cooper Union,” Olorode said. “The math courses were great, but I realized electrical engineering wasn’t the path for me.”
In the interim Olorode worked as a math tutor with Mathnasium, teaching elementary through high school students. His curricula included advanced placement and SAT preparation as well.
When he arrived at Mercer in September 2018, Olorode focused on his attraction to mathematics. In addition to shadowing teachers at local high schools, Olorode engaged the subject matter through his course work.
“Professor Anderson taught my Differential Equations class, which really drew me in here at Mercer,” he said. “Then I took Calculus 3 with Professor Richard Porter, which is a night class. You need a good professor to keep you locked in for late classes, and Professor Porter was always successful with that.”
Olorode also pointed to Professor Daniel Bielskie’s Statistics course and Professor Chris DePagnier’s Food and Culture section for positively impacting his Mercer experience. “I can honestly say that I haven’t had a bad class here,” Olorode said.
Sanjit Singh is equally as enthusiastic, albeit in his field of Computer Science. Also a second-year student at Mercer, Singh will be researching at Cornell University’s Weill Medical School.
Singh is a native of West Windsor. He began high school at WWP North before finishing up at South for his junior and senior years.
When he arrived at Mercer, Singh was working to manage college and Tourette’s Syndrome. “I have always lived with a learning disability, which makes it hard for me to demonstrate my learning capabilities, but despite the daily frustration I always kept my goals high.”
But that frustration has served as Singh’s motivation to both improve himself and help others. “At Cornell I’ll be contributing to a project to combine artificial intelligence and medical imaging to assist doctors working on patients’ cardiovascular health,” Singh said.
Like Olorode, Singh’s initial interests were different. He came to Mercer intending to design video games. “I was first exposed to virtual reality (VR) in Professor Ric Giantisco’s Game Design 1 class,” Singh reflected. “But over the course of my education I learned about all the ways my interest in gaming could make a difference.”
Singh’s passions converged last year, when he interned at Drexel University. He worked on the Enable Games project, which created VR games intended to help people with disabilities.
After completing their research this summer, Olorode and Singh will continue their educational journeys. Olorode was accepted to New Jersey Institute of Technology and hopes to complete his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Mathematics. Singh is on a graduate degree trajectory as well. After he graduates from Mercer this May, he’ll work towards his bachelor’s in computer Science, followed by a Master’s in Robotics Engineering.
“When I arrived at Mercer I struggled as a student,” Singh said. “But this environment helped me thrive. The teachers I met were helpful and kept pushing me to do my best.”