Nigerian-American Obinna Ukwanni decided to help his hometown in Nigeria rather than finding a six-figure job, like most graduates of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He moved to Nigeria for his eighth and ninth grade years of school when his parents wanted him learn more about his family’s heritage and background. Now as a graduate of MIT, Ukwanni has created a program with other graduates and companies in Nigeria to help students there to learn more about robotics and computers.
Ukwanni grew up Washington D.C. and attended McKinley Technology High School, where he graduated as valedictorian, with focus on biotechnology. He later graduated from MIT with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Economics with some coursework in Business Management in 2014. When Ukwanni returned to the United States for schooling, he realized how far behind Nigeria was and wanted to make a difference to help boost their education on technology for teens.
Ukwanni taught robotics in Washington D.C. for two years before his program was cancelled, and when he called his father to tell him the news, he gave him the idea of starting the program in Nigeria. In 2012, he was able to start a summer school for high school students in Lagos, Nigeria, called the Exposure Robotics Academy. This school taught over one hundred boys and girls from all over Nigeria how to build and code robots. This program, which was sponsored by Shell Oil, lasted five weeks, and the students were mentored by MIT students. Although it only lasted until 2014, Ukwanni is now working on starting the first Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) School in Nigeria.
Currently, Ukwanni and other MIT graduates are working on starting the Makers Academy. This school would educate students from all over Nigeria on engineering basics, leadership skills, and teamwork. This new school would also help Nigeria to be able to produce something unique to Nigeria. They import all of their products, and the majority of the money that they do make goes to education. With the Makers Academy, students from all around Nigeria will be able to help their country to prosper.
The Makers Academy will be in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, and is expected to open sometime between 2018 or 2019. Obinna Ukwanni hopes to have around six hundred students when it opens.