At 10 years old, Ryan Mbagna-Nanko moved from Cameroon to the United States with his mother, Christie, and younger brother, Prince. Ryan spoke very little English but was willing to learn and work hard.
By 16 years old, he was conducting research in Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory as part of its ASPIRE program for high school students. He later enrolled at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) where he became a Meyerhoff Scholar.
Now Ryan is headed to Clemson University to pursue a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering under Dr. Yue “Sophie” Wang, the Warren H. Owen – Duke Energy Associate Professor of Engineering.
“It’s going to be a different type of challenge academically, and I love challenges,” Ryan said. “But I also look forward to the fun.”
Ryan had his first taste of Tiger-style fun when he came to campus in January as part of STEM ALL-IN.
In the program, students from across the country visit Clemson early in the graduate-school application process to meet with faculty, students and staff and learn about research opportunities on campus. A big part of the goal is to increase the number of students who are from groups underrepresented in STEM.
“It was an opportunity for me to experience what it is like to be a student at Clemson,” Ryan said of his first trip to South Carolina. “It was really exciting for me. I also got to meet the other STEM ALL-IN candidates who ended up going to Clemson.”
Ryan first learned about Clemson from Dr. Oliver Myers, who shared his experiences with Meyerhoff Scholars at UMBC. Myers, who was in the first cohort of Meyerhoff Scholars, is now the associate dean of equity and inclusion in Clemson’s College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences.
Over the summer, Ryan is working with Ford Motor Company as a system engineer and a GEM Fellow. When he begins his Ph.D. program in August as part of the Clemson Bridge to Doctorate Program, he plans to focus on human-robot interaction and autonomous systems.
He likes that Dr. Wang takes an interdisciplinary approach that integrates psychology into robot control and includes collaboration with researchers at Clemson and other institutions.
We look forward to having him here at Clemson. Please help us welcome him!
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