Computer Engineering Student Makes Global Impact
By Polly Ouellette
Olatide Omojaro works with African Research Academies for Women to increase STEM opportunities
Instead of waiting for graduation, Olatide Omojaro sees it as his responsibility to begin making a difference in the world sooner rather than later.
Omojaro, a computer engineering major in his third semester at Georgia Tech, puts his technical skills and kind heart to use through his involvement with African Research Academies for Women (ARA-W). The organization aims to improve opportunities for STEM education in women in developing countries, which is something that Omojaro feels strongly about.
“To be honest, I was born in Nigeria – I know the state of the way things are there too,” says Omojaro. “There is no point if I am capable of impacting change and I am not doing it, which is one thing I am always very conscious about.”
The organization was started by some of his friends at Georgia Perimeter College, which he attended after he moved to the United States from Nigeria in 2011. The students knew Omojaro would be interested, and ever since he was asked to join he has been all in.
In the three years the program has been operating, 33 women from Ghana have been sponsored and enrolled in a ten-week summer research program at various institutions in Ghana. They are then set on a path to finish their undergraduate degree and apply to graduate school.
"Overall, we want them to take their interests and passion, combined with their skills to collaborate with each other in tackling world issues,” Omojaro says
Omojaro serves on the executive board of ARA-W and collaborates with engineering and medical students from Yale, Emory, and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
ARA-W hopes to expand to create a one-year fellowship program in Nigeria in the next few years, as well as develop an exchange program that will allow women to come to the United States for their studies; this is the project Omojaro is currently spearheading.
Omojaro dedicates a great deal of time and effort to working to help these women. His efforts were bound to get noticed; sure enough, Omojaro recently received the President’s Volunteer Service Award. It is a prestigious program that grants national recognition to people who have clocked many hours of service for the benefit of others.
“It was of course surreal,” says Omojaro, who didn’t even know he was nominated for the award. “My contribution is actually making a difference and an impact, even if most times it doesn’t seem like it.”
Omojaro is also an active member at the Center for Engineering Education and Diversity. It is a program that aligns with his interests in diversity and STEM, and he is inspired by the people who work there.
“I come here [to CEED] and I see that people give up their time to see that other people do better. They are very selfless, and they give their time and their effort to work to make sure we have a stress-free, smooth experience on campus,” Omojaro says.
When he has extra time, he and his friends participate in the CREATE-X program, which helps Georgia Tech students make their entrepreneurial aspirations a reality. Through the program, they are developing a cost-effective product that will measure water temperature, pH, light and other factors in both saltwater and freshwater fish tanks. Their idea made it to the semifinal round of the InVenture Prize competition.
While his involvements might indicate otherwise, Omojaro is not all work and no play. He is a brother at the Sigma Pi fraternity and an avid fan of the Manchester United soccer team.
In the future, Omojaro looks forward to getting his undergraduate degree from Georgia Tech and moving on to get a doctorate degree in computer science with a focus in artificial intelligence, robotics, or machine learning. He plans to continue to work with ARA-W to expand their program and help more women become scientists and engineers.
Omojaro is motivated by his family, and said that his recent volunteering award “made my mom happy. There’s a big motivating factor behind that.” He hopes to continue to make family and friends proud in the future.
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