Two McMaster auto engineering students killed in Iran plane crash

Hamilton, Ontario — Two young automotive researchers from McMaster University were among the passengers on Ukrainian International Airlines Flight 752, which crashed minutes after takeoff in Iran on Wednesday.

McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont. confirmed the news on Wednesday. Iman Aghabali and Mehdi Eshaghian were both PhD students in the university’s faculty of engineering and researchers at the McMaster Automotive Resource Centre (MARC). They were on their way back to campus after visiting Iran over the holiday break.

According to a profile on McMaster’s website, Aghabali received his Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering, electronics from the Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, Iran in 2015. In 2017, after pursuing graduate studies in power electronics at the University of Tehran and accomplishing his Masters of Science, Aghabali joined McMaster as a PhD student to pursue interests in the design control of power electric converters in hybrid EV applications.

“[Aghabali’s] optimism and positivity were infectious,” said Jennifer Bauman, who jointly supervised Aghabali’s doctoral work with professor Ali Emadi. “He was always smiling and was well-loved by all his peers at MARC. He was one of the best students I’ve known. We had many insightful conversations and he would consistently impress me with his progress and the improvements he made weekly to his research.”

Eshaghian graduated from the Sharif University of Technology with a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering and joined McMaster in 2018. His research interests included autonomous vehicles, robotics and control systems in general. 

“Mehdi was one of the top students in the class and very intellectually curious. I was happy and excited when he asked me to co-supervise him,” said Mark Lawford, who jointly oversaw Eshaghian’s PhD studies with Emadi. “It’s a big family here, working towards the same goal. It makes losses like this a little more difficult because you’re more connected to the people. To have their dreams cut short is tragic.” 

Counselling services and support are being provided to McMaster students, faculty and staff as the scope of loss continues to emerge across the country. 

Of the 176 victims on board Flight 752, 63 were Canadians.

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