Commencement 2018: Engineering student, Providence resident set to graduate after numerous accomplishments at URI

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Tunde Akinkuowo
Carl-Ernst Rousseau, professor and chair of URI’s Department of Mechanical, Industrial and Systems Engineering, left presents the Turner Award to Tunde Akinkuowo at the URI’s Black Scholar Awards program. URI photo by Michael Salerno.

KINGSTON, R.I. — May 15, 2018 — It’s hard to single out the greatest accomplishments of University of Rhode Island senior Tunde Akinkuowo, who will earn his bachelor’s degree in industrial and systems engineering on May 20.

Was it his completion of an industrial engineering internship with renowned jet engine designer and manufacturer Pratt & Whitney or was it his participation in the Solar Car Challenge at North-West University in South Africa?

Or could it be his selection as the recipient of the Harvey Robert Turner Award for Outstanding Service to the University’s Black Community at its 21st annual Black Scholar Awards ceremony on April 24?

The Harvey Robert Turner Award is named after a man who is believed to be the first black graduate of URI in 1914. He majored in civil engineering and was a member of the football and track teams.

“The award really came as a shock to me because I was notified at a time when I was really preoccupied with schoolwork,” Akinkuowo said. “I am honored to receive this award.”

The Providence resident has won high praise from faculty members.

“Tunde has told me that his goal is to work in the area of process improvement, which doesn’t surprise me at all,” said Carl-Ernst Rousseau, chairman of URI’s Department of Mechanical, Industrial and Systems Engineering. “As his professor, I have always known him to seek the best approach to solving a problem, and to never rest until he reaches excellence.”

As community service chairman for the URI student chapter of the National Society for Black Engineers and a member of Brothers on a New Direction (BOND), Akinkuowo participated in community service projects and mentorship efforts in the URI community, Providence and Pawtucket.

“Giving back to the community and volunteering are important because they are ways for us to progress as a community, whether it’s speaking to middle school students about college experiences or passing out lunches in downtown Providence,” Akinkuowo stated.

“During the past four years at URI, I have witnessed the growth of this budding engineer,” said Christopher Hunter, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at URI and coordinator of the awards ceremony. “He has become more self-aware and determined to embrace the things that drive him.”