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Nigerian emerges first black woman to bag PhD in Robotics at Michigan varsity

A Nigerian woman, Oluwami Dosunmu-Ogunbi, has made history as the first black woman to bag a PhD in Robotics at the University of Michigan in the United States.

Speaking at the university’s College of Engineering convocation, Dosunmu-Ogunbi, a daughter of Nigerian immigrants, spoke on the support she received in realising her aspirations.

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 added that she wants to be remembered as the University’s of Michigan’s first black woman to get a PhD in Robotics and she wants to use her knowledge in engineering to improve the lives of 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.”

The University of Michigan Robotics Department website describes Dosunmu-Ogunbi’s journey as one shared by many PhD students who initially lack a clear vision for their final goals.

It added that Dosunmu-Ogunbi has been an active community builder in robotics, earning an MLK Spirit Award from the College of Engineering for mentoring and inspiration as well as being named an outreach ambassador by Robotics for three years, 2021–2023.

The Department also disclosed that she was named a runner-up in the
College of Engineering’s three–minute thesis competition and has been inducted into the Bouchet Society, which recognises outstanding scholarly achievement and promotes diversity in graduate education and the professoriate.

Dosunmu-Ogunbi is currently interviewing for faculty positions, the department revealed.

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