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Meet Nigeria’s Dr. Wendy Okolo, 26, an award winning NASA aerospace engineer

from: 01 . 04 . 19
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Dr Wendy A. Okolo is the first black woman to obtain a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington and the 2019 winner of the BEYA Global Competitiveness Conference award for the most promising engineer in the United States government.



Nigerian born Dr. Wendy Okolo is an aerospace research engineer at the Ames Research Center, a major National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) research center in California’s Silicon Valley. Okolo. NASA is the U.S. agency responsible for the civilian space program, aeronautics and aerospace research.

Okolo works as a special emphasis programs manager in the Intelligent Systems Division of the Ames Research Center. According to Black Engineer, she is currently leading work on a System-Wide Safety (SWS) project, and a Space Technology Mission Directorate Early Career Initiative (STMD-ECI) project. The SWS project involves predicting GPS faults in unmanned aerial systems commonly known as drones. While the STMD-ECI project, aims to develop unconventional control techniques for deployable vehicles, to enable precision landing and improve maneuverability during the entry, descent, and landing phases of spaceflight.

Her past is just as impressive; at only 26 years old she became the first black woman to obtain a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington, where she earned both her undergraduate and doctoral degrees.

Wendy Okolo Receives “Black Engineer’s Most Promising Engineer in Government Award”

Dr. Wendy Okolo, an aerospace engineer at NASA Ames, has received the “Black Engineer’s Most Promising Engineer in Government Award” at the BEYA STEM Conference in Washington D. C. Okolo is a Special Emphasis Programs Manager in the Intelligent Systems Division at Ames.

Okolo is working on the System-Wide Safety (SWS) project and a Space Technology Mission Directorate Early Career Initiative (STMD-ECI) project at Ames. For the SWS project, she led the task of predicting GPS faults in unmanned aerial systems commonly known as drones.

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.

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.



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