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Wendy Okolo, First Black Woman To Get Ph.D in Aerospace Engineering at 26

Wendy A. Okolo is a Nigerian-American 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.

She is also the Special Emphasis Programs Manager for Women at Ames. Wendy Okolo had her secondary school education at Queens college in Lagos state, an all girls secondary school.

She 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).

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