Dr. Ngalula Sandrine Mubenga, PH.D., PE, and assistant professor in the College of Engineering at the University of Toledo, has been profiled by USAID.GOV in a new article titled, “Women Champions in the Energy Sector (USAID.GOV, 2021).”
This portrait is part of the “West Africa Energy Program and Women in Energy (WIE)-Ghana’s series on women champions in the energy sector, featuring women who have overcome barriers, defied stereotypes, and succeeded in their chosen professions.”
The article reports a near death experience as a young woman in the DRC which was caused by the lack of electricity. Young Mubenga was hospitalized for a ruptured appendix and needed surgery. There was no electricity at the hospital. She nearly died while waiting days for gasoline to be found for the generator. This experience led Mubenga to devote her life to electrical engineering. She says “No one should die in this day and age due to lack of electricity.”
Her education began in Kinshasa, DRC and eventually led her to the U.S. where she accomplished her Bachelors, Masters, and Ph.D Degrees at the University of Toledo (UT). She went on to become an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and professor of electrical engineering technology at UT. Her work has included leading utility scale solar power engineering projects, electrifying communities in the DRC, and conducting breakthrough research on battery management technology leading to the development of the “BiLevel Equalizer”. This invention reduces weight and increases the life of battery banks of the type used in automotive and aerospace applications.
One of Sandrine’s biggest passions is encouraging girls and boys to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). In 2018, she founded the STEM DRC Initiative, a nonprofit organization. Since then, the group has awarded scholarships to pay all associated costs for more than 60 students in the Congo to attend college, including transportation and books. This year, STEM DRC has secured many sponsors and will be able to give out 100 scholarships (ibid).”
Mubenga’s dedication to education and her passion for bringing electricity to her native country have earned important recognition. One of her most notable accomplishments came when she was appointed Director General of the Electricity Regulatory Authority, DRC by President Felix Tshisekedi in July of 2020.
“Even in school, there were many instances where I was the only woman in the room, or the only black woman of African origin. That is just the reality. And (in those situations) people have a tendency to doubt,” says Sandrine. “But when you do a good job, people recognize it (ibid).
USAID.GOV/POWERAFRICA, “Women Champions in the Energy Sector” published at https://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PA00XRWJ.pdf and retrieved online October 27, 2021