Wendy Okolo, First Black Woman To Bag A Ph.d In Aerospace EngineeringWendy A. Okolo 

Wendy A. Okolo is a Nigerian-born aerospace research engineer in the Intelligent Systems Division at NASA Ames Research Center. She is the first Black woman, to obtain a Ph.D. degree in aerospace engineering from University of Texas at Arlington. This makes her the first Nigerian, the first Igbo indigene to ever attain such accolades.

She is also the Special Emphasis Programs Manager for Women at Ames.

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Dr. Okolo, who was born to a family of six has taken off her career at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), a United States agency responsible for the civilian space program as well as aeronautics and aerospace research.

Okolo obtained her secondary education at Queen’s College, an all-girls school in Lagos, Nigeria. She then received a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) in 2010. Okolo later became the first Black woman to obtain a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from UTA in 2015 at age 26.

Her Ph.D. studies were supervised by Atilla Dogan.

During Okolo’s undergraduate years, she served as president of the Society of Women Engineers at the university.

Okolo started her career as an undergraduate intern for Lockheed Martin, working on NASA’s Orion spacecraft. Over the course of two summers, she interned with the Requirements Management Office in Systems Engineering and the Hatch Mechanisms team in Mechanical Engineering. As a graduate student, Okolo later worked in the Control Design & Analysis Branch of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Okolo is a Sub-Project Manager in the Intelligent Systems Division of NASA Ames.

She is a research engineer in the Discovery and Systems Health Technology (DaSH).

Her Awards include:

  • Amelia Earhart Fellowship (2012)
  • National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship (2012)
  • AIAA John Leland Atwood Graduate Award (2013)
  • BEYA Global Competitiveness Conference Award (2019) – The Most Promising Engineer in the United States government.
  • Women in Aerospace Award (2019) – Initiative, Inspiration, & Impact
  • NASA Ames Early Career Researcher Award (2019)
  • University of Texas at Arlington Distinguished Recent Graduate Award (2019)