Edikan Udofia’s early professional years at the Aiteo Group showed him to the dynamic energy challenges of the African continent. Through that foundational experience he saw firsthand how complex energy needs require more than an excellent grasp of the engineering fundamentals. Edikan’s search for advanced problem-solving approaches led him to seek an integrated skillset at the Colorado School of Mines and the Operational Research with Engineering program (ORwE). ORwE involves mathematically modeling physical systems (both naturally occurring and man-made) with a view to determining a course of action for the system to either improve or optimize its functionality. This critical analysis approach to engineering is necessary as organizations maximize energy and industry solutions. We spoke to Edikan about his experience at Mines and his plans for the future.
What led you to work with Colorado School of Mines for your Ph.D.? And why the ORwE program?
I come from a working background in the extractive resources industry. Colorado School of Mines is a world-renowned school in this area; it was therefore an obvious choice. This is the only school I applied to and I’m forever grateful that I was granted admission. I am concurrently pursuing my masters in Mineral and Energy
Economics (MEE) which was a career move for me that was more expedient than
getting an MBA. Prof. Ian Lange in Economics and Business (who is the graduate studies supervisor for MEE) had a sit-down session with me where we discussed my true goals and objectives. In that session, I realized that beyond just having the core competencies that MEE would give me, I needed to strengthen my optimization and analytical skills. He advised me to speak with Professor Alexandra Newman and after one meeting with Professor Newman, I was convinced that I wanted to pursue the Operations Research with Engineering Ph.D.
Did you have a mentor and how did that person help you in your academic/career path?
I do not have a direct mentor, but I have been fortunate to have people who have given me clear guidance on the path to follow. Professor Ian Lange, Dr. Gus Grievel, the current and immediate past Ph.D. and masters candidates in ORwE (John Ayaburi, Aaron Swift, Karoline Hood, Jamie Grymes, Kat Tomon, Nick Parham, Ian Landwehr, and Garrett Miyaoka) and Professor Alexandra Newman have been immensely helpful in helping me figure out the academic path to take. Right now, my career path keeps evolving as I make new and exciting discoveries, so for now, I’m giving my full attention to “locking down” the academic path.
What have you enjoyed the most in your Ph.D. path?
The camaraderie amongst the ORwE students/candidates is what I enjoy the most. We have forged a great friendship, and everyone is readily available to help if you ever need help, no matter the time of day.
When you are not working, where do you spend your time?
I love music. In my downtime, I’m playing the piano or guitar. I also love watching documentaries and exploring new and amazing cuisines (I love to get my hands dirty in the kitchen. It’s quite therapeutic for me).
What are you planning for your next career step?
Ultimately, I plan to become an expert problem solver using Operations Research techniques. Operations Research is so vast and widely applicable. Professor Newman often says that Operations Researchers will one day rule the world. I’m hoping that my skillset will be relevant in multiple disciplines.
Do you have any highlights to share about Mines or your time in Golden, Colorado?
I love the backdrop of the mountains. Golden has such a quaint and beautiful vibe to it. It can feel like a small town with simple charm, but also with the mountains all around and a nice selection of attractions, you get the feeling of being in a resort.
What do you recommend about the ORwE?
The adaptability and versatility of Operations Research as a field in general means you can apply it in any industry of your choice. The ORwE program at Mines is so flexible and accommodating that you can come with any other fields of interest and find a way to weave the ORwE program into it, all the while strengthening your analytical and problem-solving skills. We have an eclectic team in the program, working on research in varying fields. There is a place for everyone in ORwE.
Tell us more about your passion for cooking.
I enjoy exploring new recipes and cuisines. Whenever I go to a restaurant and order some new dish I’ve never had before, I try to recreate it at home. Also, I love randomly discovering recipes. Cooking is my own form of personal therapy. I love going in “blind” and coming out victorious. Unfortunately, it means that every time I try to re-cook a dish, it will taste different.