Winona State University junior Sulaiman Bada, who is completing majors in both Computer Science and Data Science, is getting hands-on work experience across multiple tech-related opportunities – and getting noticed for it.
Born in Nigeria and raised in Brooklyn Park, MN, Bada’s interest in technology was first piqued by his father’s career as a process development engineer, building machines that provide manufacturing aid such as creating equipment fixtures that are used to build high-impact medical devices. Once Bada knew what he wanted to pursue, he decided to do so at Winona State.
On top of his coursework, Bada has taken full advantage of tech-related opportunities that have come his way, including an interdisciplinary collaboration between computer science, physics, and design, where his team proposed solar panels to power technology that would display environmental readings and community information. It was this work which led to him being named a 2020 recipient of an Intertech Foundation STEM Scholarship this summer.
His work on this project also gained the attention of Brian Kugel, who was working on a new development titled WalkUpSocks, an initiative designed to give homeless populations access to a clean pair of socks through vending machines. After hearing of Bada’s work on the solar panel project, Kugel recruited him as an embedded systems engineer to create software systems for the vending machines.
That’s not all that Bada has in the works, though. At the end of September, he will compete as a finalist for a 5K grant award through the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation Pitch Competition, which he has worked with StartUp Winona State on. His project is bicycle rider safety programming that warns bikers ahead of winding roads, oncoming vehicles (and at what speeds), upcoming deer crossings, as well as deer that are about to cross.
During his work with StartUp Winona State, WSU Director of Innovative Community Engagement Will Kitchen introduced Bada to the executive director of Lead America, a non-profit that creates networking to match professionals to opportunities. Bada secured a software engineer internship with the organization and began working to map out possible technological strategies for networking, but COVID-19 hit and unfortunately the opportunity was halted.
With Bada’s internship no more, Kitchen worked to connect him with Bridges Health Winona, where he was plugged in as a volunteer webpage designer and IT trouble-shooter – which turned into yet another opportunity: writing code for COVID-19 tools that can measure and direct community health efforts. Bada would like to continue in his volunteer position as he finishes his college degree, citing his enjoyment in being able to see the difference their team is able to make in the community.
And if Bada didn’t have enough on his plate already, this fall began yet another opportunity which arose from his previous work: working as a software tester in the WSU Watkins Lab where he will provide testing, development and other computer and networking-related technical services to local and regional businesses.
Beyond his graduation from WSU, Bada’s ultimate career goal lies in artificial intelligence (AI) to build technologies that will improve human safety. “If I have learned anything from the pandemic we are currently in,” Bada says, “it will be that safety will always be a concern for people. I want to build a company that specializes in building tools and platforms to raise safety of others.”
He envisions a variety of tools, platforms, teams, partnerships with AI research companies, and a headquarters – all of which he says will boost the effectiveness of the development work. He is already building a prototype to launch by the end of 2020.
StartUp Winona State is sponsored by the WSU Foundation. Services and support for Bridges Health Winona are provided through collaborative efforts of Winona State University, Neighborhood Family Clinics, Live Well Winona, and the WSU Foundation.