MEET WENDY OKOLO

By Uba Acho

This is #Wendy_Okolo, the first black woman to bag a doctorate — not honorary — degree in aerospace engineering, anywhere on the planet.Yes she’s African, she’s Nigerian and she’s Igbo. Ezigbo Nwa Ada Igbo.

Okolo received her B.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2010 and 2015 respectively.

Okolo’s career has taken flight at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the U.S. agency responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research.

She was only 26 years old when she became the first black woman to obtain a PhD in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington.

Okolo was part of the team that flew the world fastest manned aircraft, which flew from coast to coast in 67 minutes — this normally takes over five hours for some of the fastest jets around.

Now, she is an aerospace research engineer at the Ames Research Center, a major NASA research centre in California’s Silicon Valley.

In 2019, she won the BEYA Global Competitiveness Conference award for the most promising engineer in the United States.

She encourages young girls to pursue their dreams in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Her previous research has been recognized and funded by the Department of Defense through the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship; Zonta International, through the Amelia Earhart Fellowship; and the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics through the John Leland Atwood Graduate Fellowship.

Currently, Okolo is a special emphasis programs manager in the Intelligent Systems Division of NASA’s Ames Research Center.

She is working on the System-Wide Safety (SWS) project, and a Space Technology Mission Directorate Early Career Initiative (STMD-ECI) project at the Ames Research Center.

For the SWS project, she led the task of predicting GPS faults in unmanned aerial systems commonly known as drones.

Okolo worked with Langley Research Center in Virginia to investigate flight data and facilitate data exchange across and within NASA centers.

On the STMD-ECI project, she leads the controls team to develop unconventional control techniques for deployable vehicles, to enable precision landing and improve maneuverability during the entry, descent, and landing phases of spaceflight.

The STMD-ECI project is a $2.5 million-dollar project that she proposed and won as part of a six-member early- career scientist team.

(Source: CableNews and various News outlets)

Africans, Nigerians and Igbos, Let’s celebrate one of our own.

Cheers 🥂✊🏿✊🏿✊🏿✊🏿

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