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Mastering technology

Nigerian engineer advances career through online degree at Marine Institute

The Gazette’s latest special feature celebrates Memorial’s newest alumni.

By Moira Baird

For one Memorial spring graduate, an online master’s degree was the best way to further his education and acquire new skills while living and working in England.

Winner Ekwue grew up in Nigeria and worked in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as a directional drilling engineer with Schlumberger Ltd. before taking on a new technology job with the company in Gloucestershire shortly before the pandemic.

He is officially graduating this month with his master’s in technology management (engineering and applied science) degree, an online program offered by the Marine Institute’s School of Ocean Technology.

“I love to learn new things, so this program is a milestone for me.”

He says courses on intellectual property and risk management have already proved useful in his career.

“Everything we do here is all about intellectual properties when we design new technologies. Taking this program helped me to apply those things that I learned in my day-to-day tasks at work.”

The program is designed to equip students with the knowledge and tools to manage complex technical operations in innovation-driven industries.

Top marks

Mr. Ekwue grew up in the city of Onitsha, located along the Niger River and home to one of the largest markets in central Africa.

He completed a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at Nigeria’s Federal University of Technology in 2011 – graduating with top marks in his class.

A man in a red shirt and dark pants stands in front of an oil drilling model
Memorial spring graduate Winner Ekwue at the Sugar Land Learning Center in the U.S.
Photo: Submitted

He was also awarded three scholarships from international oil companies.

Upon graduation, he did a year of compulsory service in his country’s National Youth Service Corps.

Then he joined Schlumberger as a field engineer and later became a directional drilling engineer based in Abu Dhabi.

Job change

These days, he’s a global field test co-ordinator, taking new technologies developed in-house and reaching out to the company’s locations worldwide to see where the new technologies can be applied.

“Getting [my instructors] involved more often allowed me to see things from different perspectives.” — Winner Ekwue

“Developing new technology is always a cycle – the concept and trial stage, prototype, testing to make sure the concept is applicable and then you redesign based on the feedback from the field tests. I take care of the entire loop.”

Quick response time

Mr. Ekwue did his homework before selecting the technology management program.

He carefully read each course description, checked in with friends at Memorial and emailed questions to the School of Graduate Studies.

“I tried to match those course descriptions to what could possibly apply to my work – not just to what I do on a day-to-day basis now, but how I could also apply them throughout my career,” he said.

Mr. Ekwue also credits timely email responses in helping him make the decision. Not all universities responded to his queries.

Lesson learned

He says one lesson learned from the online program is to not try to do everything by yourself – engage the program instructors to learn from their knowledge and experiences, too.

“I love to be independent, so I tried to break everything down myself and only talked to the facilitators when there was an absolute need to do so,” Mr. Ekwue said.

“They know more, so getting them involved more often would have allowed me to see things from different perspectives that I wouldn’t have considered.”

Challenging times

A man in a white blazer holds a little boy in a white shirt, brown pants and blue shoes. They are standing in a stone archway on a campus in England.
Winner Ekwue and his son Winner Chiagozie in England.
Photo: Submitted

Completing his degree while working full time during the pandemic was a challenge, he says, especially for his wife, Jennifer, and their two-year-old son, Winner Chiagoziem.

Evenings and weekends were spent studying and completing assignments.

“It was a lot to juggle, but we just had to come up with a balance. I could take my son out to the parks every other weekend, so I’m thankful for the patience they had with me during the program.”

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