By Lauren Foote
Ashley Martof, a graduate research assistant at Youngstown State University, has been named one of 58 Believe
in Ohio STEM Exemplars by the Ohio Academy of Science.
Exemplars are intended to serve as role models for high school students, encouraging them to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers and become entrepreneurs and innovators. Honorees were chosen from graduates of Ohio high schools, colleges and universities that now work in the STEM field.
Guha Magnoharan, assistant professor in the department of industrial and systems engineering, recommended Ashley for the honor.
“She is an outstanding and a bright student with tremendous accomplishments early in her career,” Magnoharan said. “She has strong aspirations to inspire younger students to consider STEM as a career option. She has been active with local schools and specifically, she makes efforts to organize science camps for girls to talk about STEM.”
Martof has a bachelor’s degree in industrial and systems engineering from YSU. She’s continuing to pursue a master’s degree of the same discipline, with a focus on additive manufacturing.
She decided to work in additive manufacturing while serving as the workforce and education outreach intern at America Makes.
“I fell in love with additive manufacturing through this internship, which I held for two years,” Martof said. “That’s where I learned about all the different additive manufacturing machines that they had.”
Martof said she is passionate about teaching students about additive manufacturing.
“I love the kids and I love learning. I am glad that I get to follow my passion for engineering while at the same time getting to teach future generations about STEM,” Martof said. “It combines my two great loves.”
She said additive manufacturing is particularly fun to teach because the technology is still in its early stages.
“Everyone is starting at the same level now when it comes to additive manufacturing,” Martof said. “That’s why I love to teach about it. We are all learning the same thing. It’s the same concept to everyone.”
The Lewis School for Gifted Learning Potential approached Martof to lead a weeklong STEM summer camp for younger students, for which she developed her own curriculum.
“The curriculum was just not there when I started searching for it in 2014. However, now that I am working on my master’s, I see more and more curriculum coming up from other sources,” Martof said. “It’s amazing how fast additive manufacturing conversations and research are developing.”
Brett Conner, Martof’s adviser in the department of industrial and systems engineering, said she is well suited to the role.
“She can communicate. She boils things down to a K-12 level,” Conner said. “And she can also communicate on a technical level with people in engineering industries.”
Martof is currently working on a grant funded by the Air Force.
“We are working with the Youngstown Regional Airport and their airbase, to see how additive manufacturing can be incorporated into the airbase and the Air Force,” Martof said.
She is looking at cost models to see if additive manufacturing is more cost effective than traditional manufacturing for certain applications.
Conner said her research will have a direct impact on government industry applications.
She is also working on a project for the Youngstown Economic Action Group developing a 3D map of Youngstown.
“We are trying to get partners with different companies and organizations around the Valley,” Martof said. “We are going to 3D print the models of the buildings with colors, and we are going to have the Lewis [School for Gifted Learning Potential] kids involved with taking pictures.”
She got involved because she is working with kids at the Lewis School as part of an after school 3D printing club.
She said the opportunities for studying additive manufacturing at YSU are unmatched.
“I wouldn’t want to work with any other university … What we are doing here in that field is phenomenal,” Martof said. “I am amazed at what is happening right here in Youngstown with additive manufacturing.”