NASA Logo, National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Biography

Dr. Wendy A. Okolo is an aerospace engineering researcher in the Intelligent Systems Division at NASA Ames Research Center. Her focus is in the area of systems health monitoring and control systems design with applications to air and space components, vehicles, and systems. She is the Associate Project Manager for the System-Wide Safety Project, focused on developing the technologies that will enable the safe integration of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) into the U.S. national airspace. She also leads a controls team on a Space Technology project, Pterodactyl, to advance the guidance, navigation, and control capabilities that will make precision landing for deployable entry vehicles a reality for planetary exploration.

She received her B.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2010 and 2015 respectively. Her research experiences also include stints at the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base where she worked on her dissertation research in aircraft formation flight for fuel savings. Her efforts were demonstrated with flight tests by the U.S. Air Force to realize easily attainable fuel efficiencies with existing and new aircraft. She also worked at the Advanced Development Programs of Lockheed Martin (Skunkworks), utilizing performance optimizing control techniques for the Joint Strike Fighter F-35C to improve efficiencies of aircraft belonging to the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR). As an undergraduate aerospace student, she interned at Lockheed Martin on the Orion spacecraft, NASA’s crew exploration vehicle that will facilitate human exploration beyond low earth orbit.

Her dissertation research was in the area of aircraft formation flight as a fuel-saving method of flight, working in the Computer-Aided Control Systems Design Laboratory. She employed alternative trimming mechanisms such as internal fuel transfer and differential thrusting to trim induced aerodynamic moments on a trail aircraft, reduce the need for the drag-inducing control effector deflections, and increase the benefits of flying in formation. This research was funded by the AFRL, Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), American Institute for Aeronautics & Astronautics (AIAA), Texas Space Grant Consortium (TSGC), Zonta International, and the University of Texas at Arlington.

At 26 years old, Dr. Okolo became the first black woman to obtain a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington. Thus, she is an avid supporter of changing the narrative of underrepresentation in STEM, particularly for young girls, career women, and people of color. In addition to her role as an aerospace researcher, she has served as the Special Emphasis Programs Manager for women, working to demonstrate and ensure NASA’s commitment to the recruitment, retention, and promotion of women. Her initiatives include creating nursing rooms for mothers to ease their transition back to work and analyzing job language usage in position descriptions to remove gendered language biases that reduce female applicants.

Recent Grants and Awards

  • NASA Ames Honor Award for Researcher/Scientist (2020)

  • Black Engineer of the Year Award (BEYA) for Most Promising Engineer in Government (2019)

  • Women in Aerospace (WIA) Award for Initiative, Inspiration, and Impact (2019)

  • NASA Ames Early Career Researcher Award (2019)

  • NASA Ames Superior Accomplishment Award (2018)

  • NASA Ames Innovation Fair Winner (2018)

  • NASA Ames Honor Award (2018)

  • NASA Group Achievement Honor Award (2018)

  • NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) Early Career Initiative Award (2017)

Publications

  1. Okolo, W., Margolis, B., D’Souza, S, and Barton, J., “Pterodactyl: Development and Comparison of Control Architectures for a Mechanically Deployed Entry Vehicle”, AIAA paper, Proceedings of the AIAA SciTech Forum in Orlando, Florida, Jan. 6-10, 2020
  2. Margolis, B., Okolo, W., and D’Souza, S, “Control Design & Sensitivity Analysis for a Deployable Entry Vehicle with Aerodynamic Control Surfaces”, IAC/IAF paper, Proceedings of the International Astronautical Conference by the International Astronautical Federation in Washington, DC, October 21-25, 2019
  3. Margolis, B., Okolo, W., Nikaido, B., Barton, J., and D’Souza, S, “Control and Simulation of a Deployable Entry Vehicle with Aerodynamic Control Surfaces”, AAS/AIAA paper, Proceedings of the AAS/AIAA Astrodynamics Conference in Portland, Maine, August 11-15, 2019
  4. Margolis, B., Okolo, W., Barton, J., Nikaido, B., Zane, H., Johnson, B., D’Souza, S.,“Controller design using Linear Matrix Inequalities for Lifting Nano-ADEPT with Aerodynamic Control Surfaces”, Submitted to the 70th International Astronautical Congress in Washington, DC, October 21 - 15, 2019
  5. D'Souza, S., Okolo, W., Nikaido, B., Yount, B., Tran, J., Margolis B., Smith, B., Cassell A., Johnson, B., Hibbard, K., Barton, J., Hays, Z., “Developing an Entry Guidance and Control Design Capability using Flaps for the Lifting Nano-ADEPT”, Accepted to 2019 AIAA AVIATION Forum in Dallas, TX.
  6. Okolo, W., Margolis, B., Barton, J., Nikaido, B., Zane, H., Johnson, B., D’Souza, S., “Stability Analysis and Control Design for Lifting Nano ADEPT with Aerodynamic Control Surfaces”, Submitted to the 16th International Planetary Probe Workshop in Oxford UK, July 8 - 12, 2019
  7. Okolo, W., O’Connor, M., Spirkovska, L., and Soyfer, H., “Identification of Safety Metrics for Airport Surface Operations”, AIAA paper, Proceedings of the AIAA Aviation Forum in Atlanta, Georgia, June 25-29, 2018
  8. Snyder, S., Barton, B., Morelli, E., Frost, S., Teubert, C., and Okolo, W., “Online Control Design for Learn to Fly”, AIAA paper, Proceedings of the AIAA Aviation Forum in Atlanta, Georgia, June 25-29, 2018
  9. Okolo, W., Dogan, A., and Blake, W., “Ride Quality within Conventional and Delta-Wing Aircraft in Formation Flight”, AIAA Journal of Aircraft, v. 55, no. 4, July-August 2018, pp. 1592-1604, doi: http://arc.aiaa.org/doi/pdfplus/10.2514/1.C034754.
  10. Okolo, W., Dogan, A., and Blake, W., “Alternate Trimming Methods for Trailing Aircraft in Formation Flight”, AIAA Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics, v. 38, no. 10, October 2015, pp. 2018-2024, doi: http://arc.aiaa.org/doi/pdfplus/10.2514/1.G000574.
  11. Okolo, W., Dogan, A., and Blake, W., “Effect of Trail Aircraft Trim on Sweet Spot in Formation Flight”, AIAA Journal of Aircraft, v. 52, no. 4, July-August 2015, pp. 1201-1213, doi: http://arc.aiaa.org/doi/pdfplus/10.2514/1.C032865.
  12. Okolo, W., Dogan, A., and Blake, W., “Benefits of Formation Flight of Extended Duration Considering Fuel Burn”, AIAA paper 2015-2234, Proceedings of the AIAA Aviation Conference in Dallas, Texas, June 22-26, 2015. Best Graduate Student Technical Paper Award.
  13. Okolo, W., Dogan, A., and Blake, W., “Ride Quality Within Trail Aircraft in Formation Flight”, AIAA paper 2015-3325, Proceedings of the AIAA Aviation Conference in Dallas, Texas, June 22-26, 2015. Best Student Technical Paper Award.
  14. Okolo, W., Dogan, A., and Blake, W., “Effect of Trail Aircraft Size on Sweet Spot Location for a Conventional Aircraft Pair in Formation ”, AIAA paper 2015-0011, Proceedings of the AIAA SciTech Conference in Kissimmee, Florida, Jan. 5-9, 2015
  15. Blake, W., Okolo, W., and Dogan, A., “Development of an Aerodynamic Model for a Delta-Wing Equivalent Model II (EQ-II) Aircraft”, AIAA paper 2015-0902, Proceedings of the AIAA SciTech Conference in Kissimmee, Florida, Jan. 5-9, 2015
  16. Kampoon, J., Okolo, W., Sukru, A., Daskiran, O., and Dogan, A., “Wind Field Estimation and Its Utilization in Trajectory Prediction”, AIAA paper 2015-0756, Proceedings of the AIAA SciTech Conference in Kissimmee, Florida, Jan. 5-9, 2015
  17. Kampoon, J., Okolo, W., Sukru, A., Daskiran, O., and Dogan, A., “Aircraft Input Prediction in the Presence of Spatially Varying Wind Field”, AIAA paper 2015-0755, Proceedings of the AIAA SciTech Conference in Kissimmee, Florida, Jan. 5-9, 2015
  18. Okolo, W., Dogan, A., and Blake, W., “Modified Study of Trail Aircraft Trim Effect on Sweet Spot in Formation Flight”, AIAA paper 2014-0541, Proceedings of the AIAA SciTech Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, Jan. 13-17, 2014
  19. Okolo, W., Dogan, A., and Blake, W., “A Modified Analysis of Alternate Lateral Trimming Methods for Flying Wing Aircraft at Sweet Spot in Formation Flight”, AIAA paper 2014-0543, Proceedings of the AIAA SciTech Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, Jan. 13-17, 2014
  20. Okolo, W., Dogan, A., and Blake, W., “Application of Sweet Spot Determination to a Conventional Pair of Aircraft”, AIAA paper 2012-4402, Proceedings of the AIAA AFM Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Aug. 13-16, 2012
  21. Okolo, W., Dogan, A., and Blake, W., “Aircraft Lateral Trim Using Internal Fuel Transfer and Differential Thrust in Formation Flight”, AIAA paper 2011-6613, Proceedings of the AIAA AFM Conference in Portland, Oregon, Aug. 8-11, 2011
  22. Okolo, W., Dogan, A., and Blake, W., “Determination of Sweet Spot for Trailing Aircraft in Formation Flight”, AIAA paper 2011-6302, Proceedings of the AIAA AFM Conference in Portland, Oregon, Aug. 8-11, 2011

Professional Memberships

American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Prognostics and Health Management Society
Society of Women Engineers
National Society of Black Engineers
Phi Kappa Phi

display this

Contact

Wendy A. Okolo, Ph.D.
Aerospace Research Engineer
Diagnostics and Prognostics
Discovery and Systems Health
Intelligent Systems Division

Ames Research Center
Moffett Field, CA 94035

Links

LinkedIn
GoogleScholar

First Gov logo
NASA Logo - nasa.gov