Ghana’s Dr Trebi-Ollennu builds InSight, NASA’s latest mars-exploring Spacecraft.

It’s no news NASA  landed yet another spacecraft on Mars last year. But it’s big news, in some way, at least for Ghanaians, to know who was behind the spacecraft that made the trip to Earth’s closest planet.

His name? Dr Ashitey Trebi-Ollennu. The Ghanaian born scientist developed InSight, a spacecraft expected to study the inner workings of Mars and provide valuable clues as to the formation of the dusty planet.  Dr Trebi-Ollennu leads InSight’s team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and is chiefly responsible for designing the spacecraft’s robotic arm and hand.

Having been a NASA scientist since 1999, the Ghanaian has risen through the ranks to become NASA’s Chief Engineer of Robotics at the Agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Growing up in Ghana, Dr Trebi-Ollennu completed his secondary education, and afterwards proceeded to Queen Mary College, University of London, U.K. where he obtained a Bachelors in Engineering (B.Eng.) in Avionics in 1991.

In 1996, Dr Trebi-Ollennu earned a Ph.D. in Control Systems Engineering from Cranfield University’s Royal Military College Science. In addition to his NASA work, Dr Trebi-Ollennu founded Ghana Robotics Academy Foundation. The Academy won the Google RISE Award in 2013.

Designed to tap into Ghana’s young talents in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields, the Ghana Robotics Academy Foundation organizes workshops and competitions in Ghana with the aim of bringing the nation’s brightest minds to international limelight.

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