Even before he entered the electrical and computer engineering program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Moubarak Jeje already felt like a part of campus. Not only did he grow up in Middleton, Wisconsin, a short bus ride from the university, but during middle and high school he attended several academic camps here. “I fell in love with the campus and the lifestyle,” he says. “I got a good sense of how students and teachers interact. I felt like a pseudo-Badger before I even applied.”
Now, he’s a full-fledged Badger, finishing up his junior year with a double major in computer engineering and computer science. Choosing those concentrations was not difficult; when Jeje received his first computer in middle school, one of the first things he did was to disassemble and reassemble it to see how it worked. “I carried that curiosity into high school, where I learned more about computers,” he says. “I realized computer engineering and software were the two fields I was naturally drawn to.”
Despite having an aptitude for the digital domain, taking a full load of difficult STEM courses has required hard work. He has more than risen to the challenge, excelling in all of his classes and already beginning courses that will help him complete an accelerated master’s degree in computer engineering.
One of the secrets of his success, besides support and motivation from his family, is the Leaders in Engineering Excellence and Diversity (LEED) Scholars program, which supports women and students from groups historically underrepresented in the field of engineering. The LEED Scholars program provides peer mentoring, networking and group study opportunities as well as scholarship funds to a select group of highly qualified students.
“It has absolutely helped me. I’m not sure I would be here without my LEED and Chancellor’s scholarships,” Jeje says. “LEED has led me to different services, introduced to me to a lot of my best friends and helped me through classes. I don’t know if I would have passed calculus III without LEED tutoring.”
While school takes most of his energy, Jeje says he tries to make time for extracurricular activities as well. “Someone gave me good advice last year, saying I should join one professional group, one academic organization and one that’s personal.”
In fall 2020, for his professional activity, he worked under Mechanical Engineering Professor Dan Negrut in the Simulation Based Engineering Lab as a system administrator—where, says Jeje, he was able to directly apply what he was learning in his coding classes to his projects at work. His academic choice was joining the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics student chapter, which helped continue a longtime interest in launching model rockets. His personal outlet is track and field, which allows him to get some exercise and socialize with a different group of people. Jeje, whose mother emigrated to the U.S. from Nigeria, is also a longtime volunteer for the Africa Association of Madison.
After graduation and after completing his master’s degree, Jeje says he wants to be able to put his experience to use in a job where he can see his work in action. Whatever that is, he hopes it is as challenging and fulfilling as his time at UW-Madison. “I’m not shy of a good challenge. If it wasn’t as difficult as it is now, I don’t think I’d be enjoying my time at UW as much,” he says. “It makes earning a high grade in a difficult class so much more rewarding.”
Author: Jason Daley