Oluwami, A Nigerian American breaks record at University of Michigan, emerges first-ever black woman to earn PhD in Robotics

Oluwami (Wami) Dosunmu-Ogunbi, has made history as the first black woman to earn a Doctorate in Robotics from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in the United States.

Wami,a daughter of Nigeria immigrants obtained a doctorate in Robotics at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in the United States. She said that she sees the accomplishment as a chance to apply her engineering expertise to improve the life of others’ lives.

She started her undergraduate studies  st the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
were she earned a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering with honors in 2017.

After her bachelors, Kaffy proceeded to University of Michigan Ann Arbor where she obtained a Master in Mechanical Engineerimg and went on to earn another masters in Robotics.

A Michigan Engineer is one who does not just provide scientific and technological leadership but also is one who is intellectually curious, socially conscious, creates collaborative solutions to societal problems, and promotes an inclusive and innovative community of service for the common good,” she said.

Wami initially enrolled into the University of Michigan mechanical engineering PhD program but she failed her qualifying exams despite having academic honors such as her MVP award from the University of Illinois’ Pi Tau Sigma chapter, the Mechanical Engineering Honor Society. 

She almost gave up during the pandemic, so she asked her mentor Chad Jenkins, a robotics professor, for help. Chad said he knew that if a student like Wami was leaving, there was a problem.

Wami said she then referred to Jessy Grizzle, a professor of robotics who, like Jenkins, was one of the key architects of Robotics at the University of Michigan which is a new program.

She said Jessy welcomed her to his lab as his final PhD student crediting his students at the time for contributing technical and social support and also creating an environment where she could thrive.

She wrote the qualifying examinations again and was asked questions that rebuilt her confidence whch got her back on track. Wami’s doctoral research focused on controls with applications in bipedal locomotion.

During her research, Wami said she had to be careful, working with an older robot for which manufacturer support ended during her studies as she would not be able to get spare parts if something broke.

She finished in four years, developing a new stair-climbing controller for bipedal walking robots as her chief result. Wami also has an interest in effectively disseminating complex engineering and robotics concepts to a wide audience.

At the university, she was an active community builder in robotics and she earned an MLK Spirit Award from the College of Engineering for mentoring and inspiration.

Wami was also named an outreach ambassador by Robotics for three years . Aside from being an Engineer, she is a passionate communicator and was named a runner-up in the College of Engineering’s 3-minute-thesis competition.

Culled from Scholarshipregion