Amanda Doku: Schulich scholar and promising young woman in STEM

Artificial Intelligence
Amanda Doku
In elementary school, during math class, Amanda Doku got hooked on science. Throughout high school, her interest grew rapidly as she got much more involved in the field. As a member of the robotics club, she collaborated with a team to design a functioning robot. As an executive with the engineering club, she organized events. As vice-president of the STEM council, she planned science fairs and Q&A sessions.

Obviously, Amanda has potential, passion and determination to pursue her studies in STEM. Now, as a first-year student studying biomedical mechanical engineering at uOttawa, she also has tremendous support to pursue her dream: a $100,000 Schulich Leader Scholarship.

We interviewed her, and invite you to discover a fascinating young woman in STEM.

What does the STEM world of Amanda Doku look like?

Math is what initially got me interested in the STEM field, as I really enjoyed problem-solving and the feeling of finally getting a question right after being stuck for a while. As I got older, this interest grew towards science, technology and all other areas of STEM.

AI, on the other hand, is something that inspires me, as it has so many potential applications that could positively impact society. This makes it something that I aspire to learn more about and work with in the future in order to reach my goals.

Apart from STEM-related activities, I’ve been in a choir since I was young and have enjoyed it as a way of being involved in something that uses different skills of mine. 

How does the Schulich Leader Scholarship change the equation for you?  

This scholarship is an incredible opportunity. It allows me to put all my attention and effort into school and my goals. It is also valuable in the way that it has introduced me to so many other driven and like-minded individuals who I can learn from to reach my ambitions. 

The Schulich Leader Scholarship represents a network of some of the best and brightest in the STEM field. Every recipient of this scholarship has the mindset and the potential to greatly impact the world with their ideas. Connecting these individuals through this scholarship further opens the possibilities of what can be achieved.

What does being a woman in STEM mean to you?

I think by often talking about women in STEM we are supporting and motivating women to continue in this field, especially considering that, historically, women have been underrepresented and overlooked in STEM. I’ve had negative experiences myself when working with a robotics team in high school and being one of the few women there. Often, my opinions were overlooked, even if I had the correct solution, so I had to become more assertive in order to get my ideas across. Obstacles like this are why it is so important to support women in this field. 

How did you choose the right university to pursue your aspirations? 

What initially drew me to uOttawa was that they had a biomedical mechanical engineering program starting from the first year, which not a lot of other schools offer. It’s more common for engineering programs to have a general first year, and specializing in biomedical engineering usually isn’t an option until much later on. However, uOttawa gives this option from the start.

Additionally, uOttawa has an amazing co-op program, which was essential for me in choosing it. I think it is very important to get hands-on experience in this field in order to decide what you want to work on for the rest of your career, and co-op terms will allow me to do just that. 

Any tips for the next generation of STEM students and, specifically, women?

I would like to tell the next generation of STEM students that they should always push their limits. Even though, at times, the ideas you have may seem incredibly out of reach, until you seriously make an effort towards your goal, you will never know if it could have worked out.

To women, specifically, I would give the same advice and I would also like to remind them that, despite how underrepresented women may be in this field, they belong there just as much as anyone else, so they should not let this gap discourage them in any way. 

What does the future hold for you in science?

After I graduate, I hope to start my own company, where I will innovate to solve challenging health-related problems to improve lives on a global scale. More specifically, one area that I would like to focus on is AI in medicine. In the science community, countless research projects are being carried out each day, yet one individual would not be able to stay on top of them all. However, with AI, this would be made possible, and many connections between different research papers could be found, which would lead to the discovery of new cures.