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At the age of eight, I lost my mother to an illness. Hence, my dad was bugged down with expenses of catering the family needs educationally and otherwise. As days turned into weeks, I began to realize that my life was not just about me as Albert Einstein stated in his famous quotes: We know from daily life that we exist for other people. In year 2010, shortly before I graduated from high school, I led a team of six to representing my school in the Helmbridge science challenge, a well-known inter-school competition in Lagos. Fortunately, we emerged as winner and were awarded scholarship until we graduate. This was a huge turning point in my life because not only do it relieve my family of expenses but made me view personal development as beneficial to both the person and society in which he lives. On verge of graduation, my predilection to core science courses spurred my interest to an Engineering field that could explore them effectively, thus my decision to pursue Chemical Engineering at Federal University of Technology, Owerri.
In sophomore year as undergraduate, I had myopic view on the versatility of Chemical engineering. I started appreciating the field when I took my first course titled: Introduction to chemical engineering. This course, as fundamental as it sounds, was an eye-opener for me because it exposed me to the various aspects of the field I can explore in real world. My first encounter with research in real-world was in my fourth year internship at Mouka Limited, a polyurethane foam production company, where I worked with the Research and Development (R&D) team. This experience fueled my passion for research as I was able to apply the principles of research methodology that I have gleaned from the carrying out of experiments and compilation of laboratory reports through my third and fourth year as an undergraduate. Just after my industrial placement, I with a committee of five organized a departmental field trip to Port Harcourt Refinery and Petrochemical Company (PHRC) in River state, a part of the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. It was quite edifying and fun. However, Instead of developing huge interest in oil refining and exploration, I was bugged on seeing the bad state of this region of Nigeria. This ranges from the poor air quality, and deplorable state of land and seas. Prior to my experience, I had only seen these damages on national television news channels. I discovered the purpose of accruing theoretical tools was to position me to make substantial contributions to causes that sought to positively affect humanity, thus my interest in research to improve the generation of clean energy from renewable source.
My undergraduate thesis further fuelled my interest in research. In my penultimate year at the university, I carried out research titled: Adsorption study of desulfurization of diesel fuel using activated carbon from palm kernel shell. In Nigeria, more than one million tons of palm kernel shell is produced as waste, and having honed my research skills and passion, I decided to focus on alternative use of this waste for cleaner source of fuel. During the research work, an acid and base activation was carried out with the palm kernel shell using 1.5M phosphoric acid and 2.0M potassium hydroxide (APS and BPS) respectively. Characterization of the produced samples was done using the ultraviolet spectrophotometer. Batch experiment to study the effect of adsorbent dosage, temperature, and contact time on the liquid-solid phase. It was observed that the optimum condition for the APS was at while the for BPS was at . This study reveals that the palm kernel shell is a viable source of adsorbent for diesel oil sulfur removal at low sulfur concentration. Further, an adsorption kinetics and isotherm using activated carbon was also investigated. Study shows that the equilibrium adsorption is better described by the Freundlish model indicating physical adsorption. Moreover, in my senior year, I led a team of ten through the design of plant capable of producing 40,000 metric tons per year of 2-ethylhexanol using propylene and synthesis gas as feed. The design blueprint which takes into account the high-end raw materials and energy recovery through strategic incorporation of engineering principles along with separation processes along the process lines, and the attainment of design 99% purity level of end product, made it emerged as the best in the department. Throughout this journey, I learnt to a large extent, the tenacity and patience required in carrying out research, the essence of being able to independently structure and drill down research problems, and the usefulness of research supervisor’s tutelage and guidance, and most importantly, the immense joy of making progress.
Outside the school curriculum, I have helped my department’s Academic Resource team in organizing events in the department. These include the 18th Annual National Student’s convention of Nigerian society of Chemical Engineers, the 2015 Chemical Engineering week, and the 2016 student excursion to PHRC and Dangote Ceramics, Enugu. I also planned academic quizzes to foster an in-depth understanding of Chemical Engineering principles, and tutored my colleagues in courses like Engineering Mathematics II, Chemical Thermodynamics, Chemical Reaction Engineering III, and Process Dynamics and Control II. Moreover, I also featured in a group of eight on a social project in the 2017 Young Talent program (YTP) organized by Lagos Business School (LBS), Nigeria. The program was facilitated by Dr. Henrietta Onwuegbuzie, whose purpose was to help the school (LBS) establish an ongoing relationship with the brightest university students in the country prior to and after their graduation from the university. Meanwhile, In a quest to giving back to society, I coordinated the 2019 Helmbridge science competition, the very competition that has helped me as a student. Throughout the eight week program, I fostered the zeal and enthusiasm for academic excellence to bright minds. Presently, I work with Ulesson Nigeria, a growing firm with the objective of exploring the online educational platforms for high school students in Nigeria and across West Africa. For the past four months, I led the Physics content development team in developing Android applications, of which the firm has a plan of hosting the application on Google play store and other online resources easily accessible to students by February 2020.
After obtaining a PhD in Chemical Engineering from University of Massachusetts Amherst, I aspire to creating a pervading awareness of sustainability energy in Nigeria through Research and teaching in academic setting, contributing to the existing knowledge in the field, and applying that knowledge to help strengthen the country’s economy and improve her energy production capacity. I envision a Nigeria in which the average person doesn’t have to depend on gasoline but of renewable sources for electricity. With the specialist knowledge I will acquire, together with the passion for leading Nigeria and ultimately, Africa to cleaner sources of energy, I look forward to an opportunity to work with the faculty of Chemical Engineering at University of Massachusetts Amherst.
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