Dr. Wendy Okolo: Meet The First Black Woman To Obtain A PhD In Aerospace Engineering


Dr. Wendy Okolo is a Nigerian born award-winning Aerospace Engineer and Special Emphasis Programs Manager at NASA – National Aeronautics and Space Administration. She is also the first black woman to obtain a PhD in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington, USA.

She is also a supporter of changing the narrative of underrepresentation in STEM, particularly for young girls, career women, and people of color. She also has an interest in intelligent systems, flight mechanics, GNC (guidance, navigation, and control) for aerospace applications.

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Dr. Okolo pursued a Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D), Aerospace, Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington between 2010-2015.

She also studied a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace, Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering at the same school.

Agent of change

Other than her role as an Aerospace Researcher, Dr. Okolo has also served as a special emphasis programs manager for women. She works to ensure NASA’s commitment to the recruitment, retention, and promotion of women.

Some of her initiatives include creating nursing rooms for mothers. This helps to ease their transition back to work and analyzing job language usage in position descriptions to remove language biases that reduce female applicants.

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She often gives keynote speeches, serving on various panels, inspiring the next generation of minority STEM leaders, and providing tools for individuals and organizations to foster diversity and inclusion in STEM.

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