Pursuing Physics and Change
Physics major Ali Gedawi does not inherently like physics. Go figure. But he still owes his high school Advanced Placement Program physics teacher for inspiring him with lessons in light phenomena, kinematics, and heat.
“I really enjoy engineering,” says Gedawi. “I decided that regardless of the specific kind of engineering I want to do, it would be better to study physics first with a minor in mathematics, and from there I can explore my options and narrow down which engineering subject I would like to pursue in the future.”
Gedawi grew up thinking he would become an electrical and computer engineer. Transistors, microchips, and motherboards fascinated him. He even calls the technological components pieces of modern-day sorcery with their seemingly mystical ways of powering just about every tech-related object people interact with daily. He has a simultaneous fascination with space and aeronautics, though, and has constructed his own remote-control plane.
Alongside Chen and computer science student Joanna Pedretti, Gedawi created a theoretical algorithm that, if put to use in real-life, could efficiently solve a Rubik’s Cube using a quantum computer (a computer that uses quantum mechanics to solve complex problems). Pedretti and Gedawi presented their research in April 2023 at the Symposium of University Research and Creative Expression (SOURCE).
Gedawi is also working with Armstrong to study neutrinos (a subatomic particle) emitted from the sun. They are using forward integration code (giving a machine a small amount of information while still allowing it to be accurate) to analyze how these neutrinos change as they traverse through space and arrive at Earth. Through this research, they hope to collect data that will further explain how heavy, dense materials in space are formed.
Although Gedawi may not be a physics aficionado, he can’t help but admit that he loves learning new subjects in the discipline. Along with Chen and Armstrong, Gedawi credits Associate Professor of Physics Sophia Domokos, Ph.D., and Assistant Professor of Physics Chinmoy Bhattacharjee, Ph.D., as his unwavering sources of support and the reason why he wakes up each morning excited to attend his physics classes.
Outside of his studies, Gedawi is involved in student government—he’s been accidentally involved since his first year on campus. What started as being a stand-in for the Student Government Association (SGA) treasurer, whose classes conflicted with SGA Senate meetings, turned into Gedawi becoming the official treasurer in fall 2022. One year later, he was elected SGA president for the New York City campus.
“People believed in me,” says Gedawi. “I became involved in SGA because it was fun, but I remained in SGA because I realized I have the potential to create actual change.”
As he regularly meets with New York Tech deans, faculty, and President Hank Foley, Ph.D., to be a voice for the student body, Gedawi hopes to personally exemplify the power students have. Aiming to help and inspire others, Gedawi leads with transparency and open lines of communication, ensuring that all on his SGA team and those who look up to SGA feel a sense of collaboration and security that their voices and ideas are being heard.
“I want to show people that as a student, they have a voice. Subsequently, they also have the power to create and foster change,” he says.
Looking ahead, Gedawi has his sights set on Ph.D. programs. While he is unsure of his specific direction, he knows for certain his studies will be in engineering. Until then, he follows his own advice to his fellow students: “Put yourself out there and always ask questions.” As he makes mistakes on his journey, he embraces the opportunity to learn how to improve and keep moving forward.