Science & Discovery 

Boundless energy

CEIAS Diversity international student Women in STEM

Mechanical Engineering student Samirah Gnangbe traveled halfway across the world to participate in NAU’s renewable energy research.

Our future depends on renewable energy, and the world needs engineers to build toward a better tomorrow. This was the realization that drove NAU student Samirah Gnangbe to focus her career on engineering clean energy. Samirah is an international student from the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, also known as Ivory Coast. When she learned about the relationship between fossil fuels and climate change, she began to see the ways her home is vulnerable.

“In my country we heavily rely on nonrenewable energy resources, like coal, natural gas, or offshore oil,” she said. “Not only do we experience air pollution, which affects the health of our population, but more than half of the population does not have access to energy.”

Determined to be part of the solution, Samirah sought an education that could provide the foundation for a career in clean, sustainable energy. She looked for universities that were actively engaged in energy research, and she found NAU.

Between the university’s Clean Energy Research and Education initiatives and offerings like the Undergraduate Wind Energy Certificate, NAU stood out as a top choice Samirah. The final push she needed came with encouragement from Dr. Thomas Acker, an NAU mechanical engineering professor who leads an international effort to advance renewable energy. Samirah expects to graduate in May 2022 with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, but she’s only getting started.

“I’m really interested in research, so I’ll go for a PhD,” she said. “I want to become an entrepreneur as well, to have my own company. I’m really hoping I can go back to my country and bring back what I’ve learned here.”