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Nigeria’s Dosunmu-Ogunbi Becomes First Black Woman to Bag PhD in Robotics at Michigan University

Oluwami Dosunmu-Ogunbi, a Nigerian woman, became the first black woman to earn a PhD in robotics from the University of Michigan in the United States.

Dosunmu-Ogunbi, a daughter of Nigerian immigrants, spoke at the university’s College of Engineering convocation about the help she got in achieving her goals.

She said,  “I do not stand here on my own two feet alone. None of us got here by our individual merit alone, whether it be teacher, friends, family, mentors, or role models, we each have one or multiple people to whom we are grateful for making this moment possible.”

She went on to say that she wants to be known as the University of Michigan’s first black woman to earn a PhD in robotics, and that she wants to use her engineering knowledge to help others.

She added, “A Michigan Engineer is one who does not just provide scientific and technological leadership, but is also 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.

“We each have a solemn duty to make positive contributions to the world. Well, my reasons for becoming an engineer were initially frivolous, but they eventually moved into something more meaningful. I want to have a positive impact on the world.”

According to the University of Michigan Robotics Department website, Dosunmu-Ogunbi’s trajectory is similar to that of many PhD students who begin with a vague idea of their ultimate aims.

It further stated that Dosunmu-Ogunbi has been an active community builder in robotics, receiving an MLK Spirit Award from the College of Engineering for mentorship and inspiration, as well as being selected an outreach ambassador by Robotics for three years, 2021-2023.

The Department announced that she was a runner-up in the College of Engineering’s three-minute thesis competition and was inducted into the Bouchet Society, which honors excellent scientific performance and encourages diversity in graduate education and the professoriate.

The department said that Dosunmu-Ogunbi is currently conducting interviews for professor openings.


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