Meet Solomon Apuu

When Solomon Apuu first left his hometown of Gboko in Nigeria for foreign soil, he was bound for Russia on a full scholarship to obtain his bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering. While he was there (studying in the Russian language) he became aware of the opportunities available at KAUST through an advertisement on social media. “It caught my interest,” he shares, “so I spoke to a few friends about it.” Soon after, he made the decision to pursue his master’s degree in mechanical engineering at KAUST, which he commenced in August 2021. Apuu chose the broader field of mechanical engineering for postgraduate study because of the wider range of career prospects it offered, but given the close relationship between the two, “it was quite easy for [him] to switch.”





Mechanical engineering, as Apuu explains, involves studying “how humans work with machines, and how to design, analyze and manufacture mechanical systems to help humans with day-to-day jobs.” To that end, Apuu became particularly interested in robotics and mechatronics, and chose to write his thesis on "Testing and Modelling of Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS)-based Microgripper Devices.” While it excited him “to see the research in these areas, and also how [his] work is able to help people,” there were times he found the workload to be quite challenging. Looking back, he feels grateful to God, and glad to have had the support of his academic advisor, Professor Deanna Lacoste, as well as his Principal Investigators, Professors Nazek El-Atab and Nouha Alcheikh, who both supervised his thesis research. “I always knew whom I could reach out to,” Apuu recalls, “and they were always available to answer my questions.”


Apuu was unsure what to expect when he first arrived in The Kingdom, but like many before him he has found it to be an extremely friendly and welcoming place. KAUST, especially, surpassed his already-high expectations; “everyone was smiling,” he remembers, “and I felt at home even though I was in a country that is not mine.” He found this experience to be a catalyst in his own personal development, and it has led to a multitude of new friendships and experiences. “I looked forward to living and interacting with people from different cultures,” he shares; “I experienced this while in Russia, and KAUST offered me an international community that made it even more possible, which I am very grateful for.”

Outside of his studies, Apuu has spent much of his free time playing football with new friends from a wide variety of academic and cultural backgrounds. He has also held the position of International Business Relations Officer (IBRO) on the Graduate Student Council, through which he would “collaborate with the KAUST Entrepreneurship Center and also the professional development team to create activities that could help students grow as entrepreneurs.” In addition, he completed an internship with Saudi Aramco, which was extended by his Aramco-assigned supervisor who was highly impressed with his performance in such a short time. As a result, he continued his work there for much longer. “I believe that the skills that KAUST imparted in me,” he says, “had a hand in the result that I got from my internship.”

While Apuu feels very proud of his life’s achievements so far, he is mindful that the opportunity to study abroad is not something that all children in Nigeria are afforded. It can be difficult for many families to fund further education, but Apuu believes in “investing in the lives of others.” Looking to the future, he hopes that his own professional development and success can become an inspiration for other young students to follow the path he chose; “I would love to see myself working in an industry, growing as a person and also being able to give back to my community back at home, giving other kids the opportunity to dream big like I did.”

It’s clear that Apuu’s experiences both in Russia and in Saudi Arabia have proven to him that he can adapt and grow in any environment, so he is very open-minded about where he might go next. “I’m open to opportunities anywhere,” he says, “I just need to create an impact and add value to any community in which I find myself.” Apuu believes his time at KAUST has played a major role in helping him “grow to become the person [he is] now,” and “as a graduate of KAUST,” he concludes, “I am sure it only gets better.”