Matthew Jagdeo

Medicine via Aerostats: An NYUAD Engineer’s Response to the COVID-19 crisis.

By Doovaraha Maheswarasarma

Lead Aerospace intern turned project leader, Matthew Jagdeo, a Class of 2021 mechanical engineering student with an aerospace minor, is another example of how NYUAD students have used their skills to tackle COVID-19. Currently interning remotely as the project leader with Solar Ship, Inc. Jagdeo is leading a team to come up with an implementation plan on how the airships and aerostats can be used to provide medicines and other resources to Malawi and Zambia. From conducting background research to hiring and training, Jagdeo has involved himself in every step to make this project a reality.

Jagdeo started working as an aerospace intern for Solar Ship, Inc. in the summer of 2019. As part of his responsibilities, he assisted the CEO in coming up with ideas for how the company can use its products for disaster relief in Central Africa. Since the start of this project a year ago, Jagdeo reached out to professors and students in NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU New York frequently to help him understand disaster relief in that region. As the COVID-19 crisis struck in March, Jagdeo had to cut his semester in New York short and return to his home in Canada.

While at home, Jagdeo continued to work closely with the CEO of Solar Ship, Inc., Jay Godsall to develop a project that would have students work remotely to come up with a COVID-19 relief implementation plan. He designed an interview process to identify individuals who would be able to work together effectively, despite cultural differences. Currently, Jagdeo leads four different teams, consisting of 19 members from six universities and eight different countries. He oversees the logistics for the teams and leads the initial design process to help them understand the context of their work. 

Matthew Jagdeo, Class of 2021 is another example of how NYUAD students have used their skills to tackle COVID-19.

Matthew Jagdeo works on an implementation plan to use airships and aerostats (pictured) to provide medicines and other resources to Malawi and Zambia.

Jagdeo highlights that remote work makes collaborations easier and harder at the same time. Getting appointments to meet with industry experts and government officials has become easier as everyone works from home. Remote work has also helped this project gain input and expertise from students who study in six different universities around the world, a task previously difficult due to visa and sponsorship issues in a pre-COVID world. On the other hand, Jagdeo mentions that remote work makes team brainstorming challenging since it is difficult to “take space and make space,” and understand someone’s body language in virtual environments.

Reflecting on his experience so far, Jagdeo acknowledges that he has gained insight into the interviewing process and the importance of behavioral interviews for large teams. He was excited about being able to include five other NYUAD students into this project and is looking forward to seeing how his passion project grows.

The Career Development Center at NYU Abu Dhabi works with students to help improve interpersonal skills, find internship and job opportunities, and prepare for graduate school.