Wendy Okolo (’15 PhD, ’10 BS, Aerospace Engineering)
Tell us about yourself.
I am from Nigeria. I am currently located in Houston, but I work remotely out of NASA's Ames Research Center in California. I am married with two children.
Why did you choose to attend UTA?
I chose UTA due to its proximity to my home in DeSoto, Texas. Attending UTA was one of the best decisions I ever made.
What did you study at UTA? What attracted you to that field?
I studied aerospace engineering. I always wanted to be an engineer and aerospace engineering was the most fascinating to me.
Describe your UTA experience. How did UTA help prepare you for your career?
The academic and administrative staff in the Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering were very supportive. My experiences living on campus and serving as a resident assistant were also very rewarding.
Did you receive any scholarships while at UTA? How did they help you to achieve your goals?
Yes, I received multiple scholarships from the Honors College, the Alumni Association, and even the College of Engineering. Even a $1,000 scholarship was very helpful in buying textbooks and other materials. I also received a travel scholarship when I was in graduate school that enabled me to participate in a transatlantic program in Germany, where I learned and was briefly immersed in the German aerospace industry and academia.
What is your current professional position? What do you do in this role?
I am an associate project manager for NASA's System-Wide Safety project, where I lead cross-functional teams to develop the safety capabilities that will enable a future national airspace with unpiloted and increasingly autonomous vehicles.
Describe your path to your current position. What have you learned along the way?
I earned a bachelor's degree while pursuing multiple internships and research experiences and then a PhD that showed me the beauty of an academic or research environment. I've learned that due diligence and consistency can unlock greatness that you never envisioned. Do it well and do it now.
What's one lesson you learned at UTA that has stayed with you still today?
Respect everyone. Professors, administrative staff, custodial staff, and peers.
What message do you have for the next generation of UTA graduates?
Everything is for everyone and there's a lot you can attempt before you quit.
Anything else you would like to share?
Please visit www.wendyokolo.com for more. On this newly-minted site, I share tips for success in STEM for students, along with job and internship opportunities I find.