Matthew Opara


Next step: engineering entrepreneur

Matthew Opara, who double majored in computer science and computer engineering, took advantage of the hands-on opportunities at Ohio Northern University to become a well-rounded engineer ready to chase his dreams after college.

His future plan is to start his own tech company to create software for virtual reality headsets like Meta’s Quest. His dreams of entrepreneurship were nurtured by his experiences at ONU.

One of Opara’s greatest accomplishments at ONU was being published with his professor for their research on 3D printing. Opara and Assistant Professor of Engineering Larry Funke, Ph.D., researched the accuracy of 3D printing and how to reduce the margin of error.

“You can make really complex objects,” Opara said, “but the thing about heated plastic and trying to get it to behave and form shapes is that it really doesn't want to. So, you end up with a lot of imperfections.”

Opara’s work focused on scanning a 3D-printed models and creating software that analyzed the models, compared it with the desired design and adjusted the printer to print the design as wanted.

“So, if we wanted something to be 5 inches, but it was 5 ½, our system would adjust to make it 4 ½ inches,” he said. “And then ideally, when it prints, it'll be right in the middle and be the 5 inches that we wanted.”

Earlier related research has been published with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and at ONU’s research colloquium, with hopes for further publications in other journals.

“I got to play a part in figuring out problems and solving them,” he said. “Then getting that out to the world, and actually having people find it interesting and valuable, and potentially even citing it, I mean, that's one of those things that's pretty cool.”

Opara was also part of a senior capstone team tasked with building an interactive, humanoid-greeting robot, aimed to be a showcase piece for the College of Engineering.

The robot stands at more than 5-feet tall and consists of a head, torso and arms. It also has the ability to talk and answer questions asked of it.

While many capstone projects receive a couple thousand dollars for funding, due to the complexity of Opara’s project, he and his team reached out to companies known for working with the College of Engineering in the past and was able to secure more than $10,000 in funding.

For his work on the project, he was awarded the Remsburg Creativity Award on ONU’s Honors Day.

Experiences outside the classroom also prepared Opara for the future.

During his time at ONU, Opara was a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and a member of Polar Robotics, which is ONU’s robotic football team. He also was a University Innovation Fellow for a year.

ACM and IEEE host a joint travel competition called the HackOHIO Hackathon, a 24-hour event where participants are given a coding prompt or a challenge that they must solve.

“It's a lot of work, and you don't get a lot of sleep while you're there,” Opara said, “but I look back on that with some of the people that I went with and it's just such a fond memory, because it's so much fun.”

He adds that his cumulative experiences inside and outside of the classroom, with caring faculty and top-notch facilities, fueled his passion for his career.

“I think that a lot of other colleges focus heavily on only the theoretical, but ONU really helps you take your idea to solve a problem, do the engineering needed to make it work and then ultimately make it a reality,” he said. “The focus is on letting engineers engineer, and for that, I’m really grateful.”