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Highlighting our leaders and gamechangers during Black History Month

Recognizing these inspiring USask Engineering alumni, mentors, faculty, staff and students during Black History Month. Check back as we are adding more profiles throughout the month!

Alexander Asare, Alumnus

Engineering-in-Training, Stantec

Alexander Asare
Alexander Asare

"Having a mentor in the early stages of your career will illuminate the path to success, offer insights and guidance that textbooks cannot provide. Not only does their knowledge shape your technical skills but also instills the resilience and vision needed to navigate this dynamic field. Their wealth of knowledge and inspiration will propel you to unparalleled heights."

Alexander Asare is a mechanical engineer-in-training at Stantec in Saskatoon. He is a member of the Integrated Design Team, where he channels his expertise into various mining and oil and gas projects. His involvement in diverse projects has equipped him with skills across the spectrum, from project initiation to successful implementation.

“My professional journey revolves around my passion for everything engineering and technology. I am a committed and self-motivated individual and I take immense pride in my work,” says Asare, who graduated from USask in 2022 with his degree in mechanical engineering.

Asare is also a co-lead of Stantec’s Developing Professionals Group (DPG) Saskatoon Chapter. It is a peer-based network dedicated to connecting early career professionals and fostering collaboration and growth. With the group, Asare has been involved in connecting employees across the company that are in the early stages of their career; to engage them, facilitate a culture of opportunity and foster a sense of belonging.

Bolarinwa Dare, Student

Computer Engineering

Bolarinwa Dare
Bolarinwa Dare

"If you can think it you can do it!"

Bolarinwa Oluwatoyin Dare is in her fifth year of studying computer engineering at USask Engineering.

Dare started her academic journey in September 2018. She remembers driving to school and being very excited to get started with her studies.

“Through studying computer engineering, I have found that I am more resilient than I originally thought, I have found strength in my ability to press on even when things felt difficult,” Dare says.

“Through my years at the college of engineering, I have been able to form a community, that I will for sure take with me throughout my academic and professional career.” 

Ajak Deng, Student

Civil Engineering

Ajak Deng
Ajak Deng

"Embrace challenges as opportunities, learn from failures, and let curiosity drive your journey. In the pursuit of knowledge and growth, resilience becomes your greatest ally, and each constraint is a stepping stone towards success." 

Ajak Deng is a fourth-year civil engineering student set to graduate this spring from USask Engineering.

Deng is originally from South Sudan. Faced with the upheaval of the country’s civil war in 2013, he sought refuge in Uganda. “It was during this challenging time that I discovered resilience and the power of education,” he says.

In 2019, he was selected for the World University Service of Canada (WUSC) program, which opened the door for him to study at the University of Saskatchewan and begin pursuing his dreams.

“As I near the completion of my degree, I am grateful for the opportunities I've had to grow both academically and professionally,” Deng says.

One such opportunity was his internship with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways. “This experience has been invaluable, allowing me to apply the knowledge and skills gained in the classroom to real-world projects. It has deepened my understanding of civil engineering principles and provided me with insights into the infrastructure challenges faced by communities in Saskatchewan.”

Deng represents USask Engineering on the University Students’ Council, which is part of the University of Saskatchewan Students' Union (USSU). “This role has allowed me to advocate for the needs and interests of my fellow Engineering students, while also contributing to the vibrant student community on campus.”

Last month, Deng says he was privileged to have a conversation with USask President Peter Stoicheff, who shared with him inspiring words about the value of a USask degree. “His encouragement reaffirmed my belief in the significance of my education and the potential impact I can make in the world.

“With the support of the University of Saskatchewan and the opportunities provided by the WUSC program, I am determined to use my education and experiences to contribute positively to society and be a beacon of hope for others facing similar challenges.”

Chigozie Enyinnaya-Okidi, Student

Mechanical Engineering

Chigozie Enyinnaya-Okidi
Chigozie Enyinnaya-Okidi

"Don’t neglect the power of association and be intentional about your inner circle. Surround yourself with people of similar values that will encourage and motivate you to become the best version of yourself."

Chigozie Enyinnaya-Okidi relocated to Canada from Nigeria with his family in August 2019 and began studying at USask Engineering that fall. He is now in the final year of his mechanical engineering degree.

During his time at USask Engineering, Enyinnaya-Okidi has been recognized for academic excellence and community involvement. He received the 2020-2021 Hugh Rudolph Scholarship and joined the Golden Key International Honor Society for ranking in the top 15 percent of his class. In his third academic year, he received a Goodman Fellow Undergraduate Research Award, conducting research on high entropy alloys under Professor Akindele Odeshi's supervision.

In August 2023, Enyinnaya-Okidi completed a 16-month internship with Canadian Natural Resources Limited, working four months as a summer relief operator and a full year as a thermal facilities engineering student.

During his third year and internship, Chigozie volunteered over 65 hours as an Engineering Advancement Trust (EAT) student ambassador, helping the EAT raise approximately $700,000 for the college. His dedication led to awards such as the Nasser Family Awards in Engineering, the 2022 Golden Key International Honor Society Saskatoon Chapter Scholarship, and Engineers Canada’s 2022 Leadership Scholarship.

In his final year, Chigozie serves as the director of finance for UNICEF USask, overseeing budgeting for fundraising initiatives supporting child education and poverty alleviation. Outside of school, he actively supports international university students at his local church, dedicating over 400 hours to help them transition to university life and address their academic needs.

Dr. Ericmoore Jossou, Alumnus

Assistant professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Dr. Ericmoore Jossou
Dr. Ericmoore Jossou

"According to Nelson Mandela, 'Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.' And USask continues to provide pragmatic education relevant to changing our society for the better."

Dr. Ericmoore Jossou (PhD'19 Mechanical) has been the John Clark Hardwick (1986) assistant professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) since July 2023. It is a shared position between the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

He previously worked as a staff scientist at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, a US Department of Energy-affiliated lab that conducts research in nuclear and high energy physics, energy science and technology, environmental and bioscience, nanoscience, and national security.

Jossou earned a BSc in chemistry from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and a masters in materials science and engineering at the African University of Science and Technology, Abuja. In 2019, he obtained his PhD in mechanical engineering with a specialization in materials science from the University of Saskatchewan.

He currently leads the materials in extreme environment research group, which combines experiments with computational methods to establish structure-properties-performance relationships in materials for nuclear energy applications.

Bai Binto Kaira, Mentor

Advisor, Analytics & Insights Integration, Nutrien

Bai Binto Kaira
Bai Binto Kaira

"You belong just as you are. Instead of trying to fit in, create your own path and a strong support system. Be curious, a keen learner, and open-minded. Be kind to yourself in this bumpy life journey and choose optimism." 

Bai Bintou Kaira is a professional chemical engineer with Nutrien. Her current role is part of the Operational Excellence team, where she works to find novel ways of improving operations and business drivers using data science techniques. She leads the technical program of projects that apply advanced analytics to tackle value-added complex and non-routine business problems in mining operations. Bintou, who also worked at Mosaic, specialized in process engineering, optimization and modeling, strategic and operational innovation, and sustainability improvements.

"My biggest challenge as an engineer who has worked at two large potash companies has been challenging the status quo. I see opportunities for improvement in areas like digitalization, which can increase efficiency.

"I want to dedicate my work to these improvements using a human-centric lens, making systems easier for people to navigate, especially those that have historically been in the minority and didn't belong, like women, Black people, and Indigenous people," says Bintou, who describes herself as an advocate for education and works on belonging in institutions. 

She earned her bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Dalhousie University and completed a Master of Business Administration from the University of Southern California. 

Before deciding to study engineering, Bintou was initially interested in medicine. She combined her interest in both fields by co-founding GAPhealth Technologies, Inc. It specializes in healthcare solutions for data storage, telemedicine, and care management to improve health outcomes in Africa. 

Majak Mapiour, Alumnus

Lab engineer and coordinator, USask Department of Chemical Engineering

Majak Mapiour
Majak Mapiour

“At some point, the burden of history should make space for future aspirations. It's crucial to see yourself through your own lens rather than through the opinions of others. Grant yourself the permission to soar to greater heights!”

Majak Mapiour is the lab engineer and coordinator in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Saskatchewan College of Engineering (USask Engineering).

He obtained his bachelor's and master's degrees in engineering from the college in 2007 and 2009, respectively, and is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP). He has more than seven years of experience at USask and has also worked at Cameco, Quadrise, and Halliburton.

Beyond his professional roles, Mapiour is passionate about community service. He currently serves on the board of The People Bridge Advocacy (PBA), a Saskatoon-based organization that focuses on empowering ethnocultural communities through capacity building.

He is also actively involved in promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion as a member of the EDI committee at USask Engineering. 

Mapiour is committed to both academic excellence and community betterment.

Dr. Akindele Odeshi, Faculty

Associate dean academic, USask Engineering

Dr. Akindele Odeshi
Dr. Akindele Odeshi

“Combining diligence with the right attitude is a sure path to attaining and maintaining great heights. As iron sharpens iron, we need each other to excel, and our attitude will determine our altitude in life.”

Dr. Akindele Odeshi is a professional engineer and a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Saskatchewan College of Engineering (USask Engineering). He is currently the college's associate dean academic. He joined USask in July 2008 from the University of Manitoba, where he worked as a research associate and sessional instructor.

Odeshi is an accomplished researcher and educator, whose research area is materials science engineering. Three of his former PhD students are now professors; two in Canada and one in South America.

In recognition of his contributions to the engineering profession, Odeshi was named a Fellow of Engineers Canada in May 2019. He was appointed a member of the Boiler and Pressure Vessel Safety Board of Saskatchewan in 2010 and served on this board for nine years. 

Odeshi was born and raised in Western Nigeria. He obtained his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA), Nigeria. He subsequently completed his PhD degree in materials engineering from the Technische Universitaet Chemnitz, Germany. He takes pride in completing his PhD in the German language despite having no knowledge of the language before arriving in Germany.

Odeshi is a community leader, and he is the president of the Yoruba Canadian Association of Saskatoon. This association promotes the language, culture, and heritage of the Yoruba-speaking people in the city. Yoruba is spoken by a group of black people living in West Africa and South America. In the photo shown with this bio, Odeshi is wearing a ceremonial Yoruba costume.

Dr. Ahmed Tiamiyu, Alumnus

Assistant professor, University of Calgary

Dr. Ahmed Tiamiyu
Dr. Ahmed Tiamiyu

"You may not see the immediate reward of your efforts . . . but trust God and believe in the process! Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, and success will definitely chase you.”

Dr. Ahmed (Tia) Tiamiyu joined the Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering Department at the University of Calgary (U of C) as an assistant professor in September 2021.

Before then, Tiamiyu was an NSERC postdoctoral fellow (PDF) in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada) PDF fellowships are intended to provide support to a core of Canada’s most promising researchers at a pivotal time in their careers. He was also a board member of the MIT Postdoctoral Association.

Tiamiyu received his doctorate and master's degrees from the University of Saskatchewan College of Engineering (USask Engineering) with a specialization in materials science. He was an NSERC Vanier Scholar during his doctorate at USask. He earned his bachelor’s degree in metallurgy from the University of Lagos.

Tiamiyu is now the Director of the Materials Processing and Performance (MaPP) Lab at U of C.

His research focuses on optimizing traditional materials, designing new advanced materials, and investigating their processing-structure-property relationships at multi-length scales for improved performance in extreme service conditions.

Betsy Ugolo, Student

Environmental Engineering

Betsy Ugolo
Betsy Ugolo

"To empower yourself as a person of colour, it's important to embrace your uniqueness and celebrate our differences. Let's continue to use our voices to make a difference and inspire others. Happy Black History Month."

Betsy Ugolo is an environmental engineering student at the University of Saskatchewan College of Engineering, currently in her third year. She moved from Nigeria to Saskatchewan in 2022 to begin her studies.

In her academic journey, she found that she struggled with the change in learning in Canada but was able to eventually adjust. Over the past summer she worked at Sci-Fi Science Camps to help encourage younger children to enter into STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and create more aspiring scientists and engineers for the future.

Together we will support and inspire students to succeed. We invite you to join by supporting current and future students' needs at USask.