Olatide Omojaro, a second year computer engineering major at Georgia Tech, received a President’s Volunteer Service Award in January from Barack Obama, the 44th president of the United States. Omojaro was recognized for his work over the last year as a member of the board of executives with the African Research Academies for Women (ARA-W).
ARA-W is a research experience program that encourages and inspires undergraduate female students at universities in Ghana to pursue studies in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) on both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The organization is currently working to expand its efforts to include female university undergraduate students in Nigeria.
Founded in 2014, ARA-W is working to address the shortage of STEM professionals in Africa and focuses especially on the shortage of women working in these fields, since the number of STEM professionals has been shown to correlate with the amount and quality of economic development in a region, said Omojaro. To date, thirty-three female undergraduate students have participated in the program.
“The goal is for these female students to pursue graduate degrees in STEM at either universities in Africa or at universities around the world,” Omojaro said. “At present, most of the participants are in the medical field and are focused on clinical and global health issues, and are encouraged to use their skills and interests in STEM to tackle global health issues through scientific research. ARA-W is trying to bridge the gap between clinical medicine and research medicine, and we also want to expose these students to other technical- and engineering-related fields that they might not have thought about pursuing.”
Omojaro’s role in this organization is to keep track of the student participant data and the students’ progress in their studies and careers after they finish the ARA-W program. The organization plans to build a professional mentoring network made up of existing professors at participating universities, the students like Omojaro who serve on the board of executives, and eventually the female students who take part in this program.
ARA-W is trying to raise $250,000 during the next several years to support and expand their program to also include outreach to high schools in Africa, establishment of a mentor-mentee program, and partnerships that allow for internship opportunities. The board is made up of students and/or alumni from Georgia Tech, Emory University, Yale University, Columbia University, and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. To learn more about ARA-W or be a volunteer, visit http://www.africanwomenresearchers.org.
More about Olatide Omojaro
Originally from Lagos, Nigeria, Omojaro came to the United States in 2011. Before coming to Georgia Tech, he attended Georgia Perimeter College where he earned an associates degree in both computer science and engineering.
At Georgia Perimeter, Omojaro regularly participated in the STEM Talent Expansion Program and was a STEM Plus tutor for mathematics, engineering classes, MATLAB, chemistry, and physics. He also led the STEM Study Center, which promotes the use of rapid prototyping for STEM students with new technology, such as 3D printers, and he was a member and vice president of Phi Kappa Theta Honors Society.
Omojaro also participated in undergraduate research at Georgia Perimeter and in summer programs at both Texas Tech University and the Florida Institute of Technology. As a result, he presented his work and won awards at regional and national conferences and coauthored two papers, one that appeared in the December 2015 issue of Advances in Visual Computing and another in the Proceedings of the 2016 International Conference on Frontiers in Education: Computer Science and Computer Engineering.
In 2015, Omojaro transferred to Georgia Tech, where he is enrolled for his third semester in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) and has worked for two semesters as a grader for ECE Associate Professor Linda Wills’ section of ECE 2035–Programming for Hardware/Software Systems. Omojaro takes part in the Peer 2 Peer Mentoring Program in the Center for Engineering Education and Diversity and in CREATE-X’s Idea-2-Prototype (I2P), an undergraduate entrepreneurship education program. He recently competed in the semifinals of the 2017 InVenture Prize with Team Aquarius, which has created a device that monitors water Ph levels, temperature, and light intensity (with Photosynthetically Active Radiation sensing) for salt water or fresh water fish tanks.
After graduating from Georgia Tech, Omojaro plans to pursue a Ph.D. in computer science in the fields of robotics and artificial intelligence and to run his own startup company. He said that Georgia Tech is a cultivating bed for ingenuity and innovation, on a plethora of levels and in a staggering number of ways. “The world class facilities and unlimited resources I have available to me at Georgia Tech has made reaching beyond my dreams a reality, and it is only right for me to use my experience and skill to help my community – home and adopted,” Omojaro said.
“During my remaining time here at Georgia Tech, I want to get closer to the community by recruiting more like-minded people to impact change in the community,” he continued. “I would like to take my start up ideas to the next level, in the efforts of putting the Yellow Jackets on the global map.”
Olatide Omojaro, with his President’s Volunteer Service Award
Team Aquarius members at the fall semester showcase for CREATE-X’s I2P program. Olatide Omojaro (right) is pictured with his teammates (L-R) Sam Youngdale (mechanical engineering), Daniel Albuquerque (electrical engineering), and Elie Ghossain (mechanical engineering).
Team Aquarius members at the fall semester showcase for CREATE-X’s I2P program. Olatide Omojaro (right) is pictured with his teammates (L-R) Sam Youngdale, Daniel Albuquerque, and Elie Ghossain.
Last revised June 28, 2017