One thing I'd say is intelligence only takes you so far: it's patience, endurance and having a positive mindset about what you do helps you through

Ziba CBE
Opusaziba Aranye-Okilo
PhD Student
Chemical & Biological Engineering
Ziba is a current PhD student working in the Department of Biological & Chemical Engineering

Watch: our interview with Ziba.

My decision to do a masters at the University of Sheffield and a PhD wasn't a difficult one to make - I remember after finishing my undergraduate degree I had a plan which was to get a job, get married and make babies! But I knew that plan, considering the kind of parents I had, wasn't going to see the light of day. I remember my mum encouraging me after my undergrad to go in for a master's degree. I knew I wanted to do something related to the environment and I knew I wanted to do something also related to renewable energy but I didn't know how I was going to have that combination but I remember checking top schools in the UK and I found out that the University of Sheffield offered Environmental and Energy Engineering. I looked through the modules and [found that] I could actually get a better understanding of what the environment was about and alongside that what renewable energy was about so I didn't think twice about it, I went for it.

The highlight of my engineering journey so far has been the roller coaster ride of my PhD. Just having to go into the lab, carry out my experiments, watch them fail and going back to my research plan and see the places where I could tweak to make it better.

Opusaziba Aranye-Okilo 

Chemical & Biological Engineering PhD Student

For a couple of months I've been working with anaerobes - anaerobes are microorganisms that thrive in oxygen-free environments and it's been a challenge for me trying to ensure that the environment I need to grow them is anoxic enough. I've had to prepare media bottles and I've had to sparge those media bottles and just see the bubbles coming out from the bottles through 100% nitrogen in them and having to cut those bottles and just the joy of knowing that I have been able to make an environment that is oxygen free has been the highlight of my engineering journey so far.

I'd say engineering is a really fantastic career choice and it's okay not to know that as a college student but I'd say that a degree in engineering actually leads you to loads of opportunities to choose for him. One thing I'd say is intelligence takes you far but not so far: patience, endurance and just having a positive mindset about what you do helps you through it all.

Some people have it all figured out, others don't and I think I don't have it all figured out but in a few years time I will be bagging a doctorate degree, fingers crossed, and what that means for me is just being open to lots of opportunities and making the best use of them and for me it's more about what I've got to give to the future than what the future's got to give to me and I think a career in the wastewater industry isn't gonna be a bad idea for a start.

We interviewed Ziba in 2019.

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