2018, Honors College
Osaze Shears made the most of his Mason experience.
Shears (Computer Engineering ‘18) graduated last May and now works as an electrical engineer at BAE Systems. When he is not busy developing computer hardware for satellites and space systems, Shears volunteers at the Martin K. Alloy Boys and Girls Club, introducing students to the world of STEM through robotics.
Shears credits his post-graduate success to the professors, faculty, and students he worked with during his time at Mason.
When he entered college, Shears wanted to keep his focus on classes and did not plan on being involved beyond academics. The engineer credits his fellow Honors College peers for encouraging him to embrace extracurricular activities.
“After meeting so many amazing students through the [Honors College] and seeing what they were involved in outside of classes, I developed a passion to also get involved in the community,” says Shears.
Shears recognizes the Honors College’s research exhibitions for improving his presentation techniques and leading him to pursue more student research opportunities. The engineer began exploring Mason’s research programs during his junior year, eventually becoming an Undergraduate Research Scholar with the Office of Student Scholarship, Creative Activities, and Research (OSCAR). Through this program, Shears gained a stronger understanding of the modern-day challenges faced by the computer hardware industry.
“I was able to work with different professors in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department in researching new approaches for protecting our computers using hardware security and circuit camouflaging,” Shears explains. “These topics were some of the most fascinating things I’ve learned during my undergraduate career.”
Shears always enjoyed the interactive elements of his computer engineering studies, like designing and testing computer hardware.
“From these projects I felt a very strong connection with my major and empowered to learn the best ways to approach these challenges, in addition to having a strong sense of pride and ownership for my designs,” adds Shears. The engineer cites electrical and computer engineering professors Dr. Craig Lorie, Dr. Alok Berry, and Dr. Jens-Peter Kaps for helping him “realize [his] potential” with hands-on courses and projects along with informing him of career and volunteering opportunities.
Dedicated to volunteering and improving communities, Shears defined much of his college experience by his involvement in F1rst Gen Mason as president and with the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. Through these two organizations, both of which create community among underrepresented groups, Shears met a group of students which provided support for him during the overwhelming parts of college.
Shears also worked in the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Multicultural Education (ODIME) as the Technology and Equipment Coordinator. In this role, Shears made diversity resources accessible to all students and staff by improving the ODIME website and collaborated with faculty to arrange innovative ideas for building campus inclusivity.
Through ODIME, Shears became a part of the Student Transition Empowerment Program (STEP), aiding incoming first-generation college students with their transition to Mason. Like his work with F1rst Gen Mason, Shears informed these students about the opportunities and resources available to them while empowering them to achieve successful college careers in a collaborative community.
“Over one-third of students attending Mason are first-generation students, but because this is an identity that is not visible, it can often be tough to unite these students and facilitate connections,” Shears says, adding that his work with F1rst Gen and STEP focused on spreading awareness about the first-generation identity and emphasizing the pride that “should be associated with” the community.
Shears applied his leadership skills through his various mentorship roles, like being a peer mentor for the Volgenau School of Engineering, a learning assistant for the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, and a peer advisor for the Center for Academic Advising, Retention, and Transitions (CAART).
“Each of these roles have contributed to my development throughout college in one form or another, and I am greatly appreciative to have been able to serve in these roles,” says Shears.
The biggest lesson Shears took away from all his roles of leadership was the importance of balance. An overloaded junior year made Shears realize that focusing on a few goals instead of many allows for more success and meaningful involvement.
Shears encourages all Mason students to explore the many resources and opportunities provided by the university. The recent graduate applauds the Honors College for supporting the broad interests of its students and making sure that they are aware of the programs available to them.
Shears values his time at Mason dedicated to growing as a computer engineer while elevating underrepresented communities.
Original reporting by Zaria Talley. Headshot photo courtesy of GMU Central Comm. Graduation photo courtesy of GMU Creative Services.