Making Strides

Physics student scores prestigious internship in fuel cell lab
2014 Student Academic Conference presenter

Half a world away, a young Iwnetim (Tim) Abate dreamed of a world free from global warming.

Years later, Abate is taking part in making his dream a reality.

The junior physics major at MSUM is making strides in the field of physics and engineering. Abate, an international student from Ethiopia, is already making a name for himself, scoring prestigious internships and winning major awards in his field.

The last two summers, Abate interned at the California Institute of Technology, working under Sossina Haile in her fuel cell lab.

“When I was working there I was exposed to a new kind of engineering,” Abate said. “Now I want to do it in the future.”

Abate worked on creating a fuel cell that is more efficient than those currently used, ultimately reducing emissions altogether.

“Solid oxide fuel cells are a kind of fuel cell which converts chemical energy to electrical energy,” Abate said. “They have zero carbon dioxide or toxic emission so they are environmentally friendly devices.”

Energy efficiency strikes close to home for Abate, whose home country is constantly struggling to maintain the flow of energy.

“There are still cities in my country where they don’t have electricity for days,” Abate said. “I want to be a part of the people who will make my country self-sufficient in energy.”

Abate is diligently working toward his goal. In addition to his impressive internships, Abate is presenting his research at this year’s Student Academic Conference at MSUM on April 15.

“I just want to share how science is beautiful,” he said. “If you have some solution to global warming, it can help the whole world.”

He said his foundation in science came from his education in Ethiopia, but is being solidified through his education at MSUM.

“I’m learning the principles at MSUM,” Abate said. “They offer them in a way that you’re able to apply them.”

And it is because of MSUM that Abate was able to continue his education in the U.S.

“I pay cheap, but the experience I’m getting out of (MSUM) isn’t,” Abate said.

Abate will also be presenting two other research projects at the Student Academic Conference. He has been working with professor Ananda Shastri of the Physics Department, and professor Damiano Fulghesu of the Mathematics Department to develop his research in the two fields.

To participate in the Student Academic Conference, submit your application by Feb. 28, 2014. Please email questions to

For more information on the Student Academic Conference, visit