ROSEMEAD, Calif.–Growing up in Tema on the Atlantic coast of Ghana, Ewurabena Mensa-Wood had the dream of one day becoming a pilot. “There were no women flying in Ghana when I was growing up,” she said. “I raised a few eyebrows whenever I brought the subject up.”
When Mensa-Wood was 7 she fell in love with flying on her way to Botswana. Her dream continued with the help of her parents who supported her interest and passion for flying. But when the tragedies of 9/11 impacted the aviation industry, her path to becoming a pilot steered off course.
The California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, graduate is now a system engineer at Southern California Edison’s San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station. She is responsible for ensuring optimal performance, safety, production and cost goals for the emergency core cooling system that is designed to remove the remaining heat from the reactor’s fuel source in the event of a failure of the normal cooling system.
Mensa-Wood was honored by SCE during Women’s History Month in March and Diversity Month in April as a role model for today’s young women.
“Ewurabena exemplifies why Edison has made a commitment to provide resources to educational institutions and students in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math,” said Tom Palmisano, SCE vice president, nuclear engineering. “We hope that by seeing someone such as Ewurabena, more young people will become interested in STEM fields and know that they can one day achieve their dreams.”
With degrees in aeronautical engineering from London’s Queen Mary College and a master’s in mechanical engineering from Cal Poly, Mensa-Wood credits her success to her strong background in math and the encouragement of her parents. As a math tutor to high school kids, she encourages them to stay focused and achieve their dreams.
“Four years ago, I decided I wanted to volunteer in an area that I would be committed to. I have always enjoyed math, and I love to help simplify it for those who don’t care for it so much,” she said. Today, Mensa-Wood uses tutoring to teach kids, especially young girls, the importance of math and science in everyday life.
Mensa-Wood is now a private pilot and has approximately 120 hours in a Cessna 172 aircraft. She is working on obtaining additional credentials that will allow her greater freedom when flying.
“Each time I got on a plane, I felt like I had unfinished business and was missing out on something huge,” she said. “When I turned 30, it hit me that I had to start flying sooner rather than later.”
In addition to being an engineer, pilot and math tutor, she loves to read, enjoys salsa dancing and being with her family and friends.
Mensa-Wood still hopes to achieve her professional goal of one day working as a manager within engineering. She also wants to use tutoring as a mechanism “to reach someone who might not know what they are capable of achieving.”