Challey Spotlight: Amma Agyekum

The Challey Institute for Global Innovation and Growth is highlighting the impact of our faculty and students at NDSU and in the community. This month, we are shining a spotlight on Amma Agyekum.

Challey Spotlight: Amma Agyekum

Graduate Student, Civil Engineering

Amma Agyekum is a first-year Ph.D. student studying civil engineering with a specialization in construction management at NDSU. Amma is a member of the inaugural cohort of Mancur Olson Graduate Fellows. Originally from Ghana, she received her bachelor’s degree in quantity surveying and construction economics and her master’s in construction management from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana. In addition to her fellowship, she is involved with Bridges International, the National Union of Ghana Students – Bison Chapter, and the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association.

What are your career goals, and why did you choose NDSU for graduate school?

I hope to be a renowned researcher in construction management and innovation. I want to focus on ways to improve the health and safety of construction or infrastructure projects through emerging construction 4.0 technologies. I chose NDSU because it is an R-1 institution with top researchers and because people here are really nice and welcoming. Aside from that, the financial aid from the Graduate School and the Challey Institute fellowship motivated me to choose NDSU. 

The Challey Institute is unique in its interdisciplinary nature, both in terms of the students we reach and the thought leaders we bring in. As a civil engineering student, who have you enjoyed hearing from this semester? 

The Institute being interdisciplinary is helpful, because it helps to broaden the lens of its members. I’ll say, all of the speakers have been amazing. I learned a lot from all of them. I think Dr. Sarah Low from the University of Illinois has been the most interesting one so far. She talked about how entrepreneurship can be used to improve economic growth. Another session I loved was Mark Mills, a technology and energy expert. I enjoyed his presentation on “Technology and the Future” as I have a keen interest in construction and infrastructure innovation. He spoke about the evolution of technology from the 1920s and some technologies such as drones, wearable sensors, and virtual reality/ augmented reality, which I hope to implement in my research. I also enjoyed the workshop presentation Dr. Noah Dormady delivered on resilience. 

The Challey Institute gives me a broad perspective about economic growth and flourishing and does not limit me to construction perspectives. Instead, it provides a holistic view of issues. I enjoyed that and hope to meet more speakers in the subsequent semesters. 

What is one thing that has energized or inspired you this semester?

Even though things have been challenging and not as expected, I’m enjoying my experience here—going for talks, interacting with people, and learning new things. My loved ones and ambition keep me going, knowing I can achieve it all. 

How will the Mancur Olson Graduate Fellowship propel your efforts at NDSU? 

The fellowship has been beneficial to me by offloading some financial burden and granting me the needed support and resources for my career development. In addition, it encourages me that I am on the right path and will succeed in my chosen field. 

The Sheila and Robert Challey Institute for Global Innovation and Growth aims to advance understanding in the areas of innovation, trade, institutions, and human potential to identify policies and solutions for the betterment of society. Learn more at
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