Graduate Student Spotlight on Nafissa Mäiga (MSEEE 2023, BSEEE 2021)

Nafissa Mäiga spent most of her life in Mali, West Africa, where her interest in environmental issues and water resources first began. After moving to the U.S. in 2015, Nafissa finally found her home in Purdue Environmental and Ecological Engineering.

“I always knew that I wanted to do a job that related to the environment. EEE was the perfect place for me to reinforce that interest and make that goal possible,” says Nafissa, who recently completed her MSEEE in May 2023.  

Nafissa poses in her cap and gown for Purdue's commencement in May 2023. 

After completing her BS in EEE, Nafissa originally enrolled in an alternate PhD program; however, she found herself missing EEE.

“EEE just felt like home to me. It was the first place where I was given such eye-opening experiences and one-of-a-kind courses. I decided to complete a professional master’s degree in EEE to enter the workforce quickly.” 

Nafissa's graduate research was conducted with the support of the ASPIRE (Advancing Sustainability through Powered Infrastructure for Roadway Electrification) program. Nafissa primarily investigated the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of lithium extraction and how life-cycle assessment (LCA) does not always include such impacts when addressing the electrification of transportation.

“It is a research area that is often ignored but impacts many,” Nafissa explains.   

During her time at Purdue, Nafissa was actively involved in the Women in Engineering Program (WIEP); received as Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF); served as president of the Francophone Student Association, Co-Executive Director of the Sustainability Committee for Purdue Student Government (PSG), and a GradTrack mentor for underrepresented undergraduate students across the country interested in graduate school. Nafissa’s work with PSG led to her receiving a BOLD Award for her leadership in promoting inclusivity and sustainability.  

Nafissa also attended the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Convention several times while at Purdue, where NSBE was initially founded, an experience she recommends to any student. 

Left to right: Heidi Parker (Purdue alumna), Tholoana Seetsa, Nafissa Maïga (EEE grad student), Maya Luster, and Jordan Cross (EEE grad student) network at the Purdue recruitment table during the NSBE 2023 Convention. 

“The NSBE Conference allows students to meet people who can relate to your experience as a minority in STEM and present your work in an official setting. I obtained my first internship with Nucor thanks to NSBE and that is also where I connected with the VP of Jacobs.”

Nafissa eventually accepted a full-time offer at Jacobs in Philadelphia as a water resources/water engineer, where she begins in August 2023. 

“As international students, we often have more limited internship and full-time offers. With a graduate degree in EEE, I always felt confident that I would secure a great opportunity.”

Nafissa attended the 2023 NSBE Convention primarily to recruit undergraduate, graduate, and high school students for Purdue during the NSBE career fair; she was joined by EEE graduate students Rasul Diop and Jordan Cross. Having participated in EEE as both an undergraduate and graduate student, Nafissa was able to provide a multi-faceted view of the program for future minority engineers.

Left to right: Nafissa Maïga (EEE grad student), Rasul Diop (EEE grad student), and Bob Pragada (CEO of Jacobs) pose together at NSBE 2023. 

“I may be biased, but I truly think that EEE has some of the best professors, administrative support, and graduate peers at Purdue. EEE allowed me to explore so many different aspects of environmental engineering. I know that I am adequately prepared for the journey that I am about to start.”

We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors, Nafissa!