Electrical engineering grad headed to Silicon Valley

Monday, June 4, 2018
decathlete Joel Nkounkou '18

Decathlete Joel Nkounkou

A summer internship at UNH’s InterOperability Lab while he was still in high school helped to usher in Joel Nkounkou’s future, which arrives in July when the 2018 graduate from the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences starts work with the Silicon Valley tech giant Intel. “The IOL internship really allowed me to dive into a lot of tech roles, and that let me get my foot in the door,” says Nkounkou, an electrical engineering major who followed that experience with a job at the IOL tech-testing lab during his sophomore and junior years. “I put in a lot of hours there; it was a great opportunity.”

He also has put a lot of hours into creating his own opportunities. With guidance from the Peter T. Paul Entrepreneurship Center (ECenter), Nkounkou cofounded ecoText, Inc., a startup aimed at making electronic textbooks accessible to students for a flat fee.

“It’s like Spotify for text books,” Nkounkou says. “Students can obtain textbooks at a lower price. And they don’t have to think about it; the cost is embedded in their tuition.”

Problem Solver

Joel Nkounkou ’18 describes his involvement with the UNH Entrepreneurship Center, which helped him develop the company he founded.

Additionally, Nkounkou was part of a team that competed in the 2017 New Hampshire Social Venture Innovation Challenge, proposing a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that result during the fracking process through customizable pollution elimination equipment.

This year, Nkounkou and his teammates entered the annual Holloway Prize Competition to promote their idea for O2 & You, creators of a wearable smart device that measures air pollution. The project won the Judge’s Choice Award in a national competition out of New Mexico State University that had students trying to solve pollution problems.

Nkounkou, a Dover, New Hampshire, resident, came to UNH in part because of that high school internship at the IOL. But he also knew he wanted a strong engineering program and a big school. The bonus: sports; he has been a standout decathlon athlete on the track and field team for the last three years. Nkounkou also is a member of the UNH group Men of Strength: Diversity, Education and Family and the National Society of Black Engineers.

“Right from my freshman year, I’ve loved it here,” Nkounkou says. “Now I’m looking forward to the future. I have a real passion for entrepreneurship and, with my experiences at UNH, plan to explore new opportunities.”

Interested in an engineering career? Check out the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences and see what they have to offer.