The Program for Master in Engineering Studies (PROMES) says on its website that they aim for students to “encourage each other to be leaders here at UH and in their careers beyond UH,” and PROMES alumna Nwamaka Nzeocha is a shining example. Nzeocha, who graduated from the Cullen College of Engineering in May 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, is now offering two engineering scholarships ($1000 and $500) for PROMES innovators in her “Dare to be Different” scholarship contest.
As an undergrad UH, Nzeocha was a dedicated member of PROMES from her very first freshman seminar. “PROMES is where you want to be, they just offer insight and information and seminars where they groom your for success,” she said.
Now that Nzeocha has hit her own success as an electrical engineer and entrepreneur, she is giving back to the UH engineering community. She is holding a scholarship competition for engineering students who, as she says, dare to be different. “I wanted to make the scholarship something that I’m very passionate about, which is thinking outside the box, but not in a cliché way,” Nzeocha said. “Not every engineer that graduates has to be a factory-type, run-of-the-mill engineer. I want to encourage people. If you have an idea that may be a little bit different, it may not be something you saw in a textbook or something you were trained to do, but you’ve been groomed with all that engineering knowledge and you can use those skills to do something that can really impact somebody’s life, really change things for the better.”
Nzeocha found a way to use her electrical engineering education both inside and outside of the oil and gas industry. During the day, Nzeocha works as an electrical engineer at Chevron, but when the work day is through, she works on what she calls her “baby”: EasyWeave.com.
EasyWeave.com, an online sales platform for hair extensions, was born of Nzeocha’s love for hairstyling and inspired by Eric Imasogie, a UH industrial engineering alumni and Nzeocha’s husband. Nzeocha said Imasogie analyzed how she and her friends bought hair pieces based on word of mouth and inspired her to create a push toward a real marketplace platform. And while hair and engineering don’t always seem to be related, Nzeocha says her electrical engineering background is what enabled her to create and run the site. “Things like MATLAB and C, that you think you might never use after school,” are integral to her website, she said.
Nzeocha found a way to relate engineering to her passion, but she knows the options for utilizing an engineering education are limitless. She says she hopes her scholarship will push more students to keep thinking outside of the box. “I just want to see people who are really passionate about something,” she said of her scholarship competition. “The goal of this is to motivate somebody… I want to let people know that it’s okay to do engineering and have another idea [also].”
Nzeocha credits her success to PROMES and the education she received at the UH Cullen College of Engineering, and is looking forward to returning the favor to future students. “One thing I always told myself is that when I graduate and when I’m able to, I’m going to give back. The [college] have given me so much that even transcends past the classroom, like life skills and professional skills. With all the scholarship money that I’ve gotten, I knew when it was time, I was going to pay it forward.”
Students interested in applying for the scholarship should submit a three minute video that explains who they are, what their innovative idea or invention is, and how the scholarship will benefit them. More information can be found here.