Celebrating Women Engineers: Chioma “CiCi” Lyons
In celebration of Women’s History Month, the Department of Mechanical Engineering is highlighting some of our talented and diverse alumni through vignettes sharing their life experiences, career paths, and advice for aspiring mechanical engineers.
Chioma “CiCi” Onyekwere-Lyons (B.S. 2016) has made her mark both as an engineer and as a world-class track and field competitor. A Division One athlete during her time at the University of Maryland, she is among the top 20 worldwide in discus throw and holds the national record for Nigeria in that sport. She qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 and won gold at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, U.K. with a throw of 61.70m—a personal best. She is the first female Nigerian to win gold in the discus throw at the Games.
CiCi has pursued a career as an automotive engineer, working at Ford Motor Company for more than five years as an exterior lighting design and release engineer.
Where/how did you get started on your mechanical engineering journey?
I've always enjoyed tinkering with things and figuring out how they worked. I enjoyed math and science in school.
Who/what inspires you?
My parents have always served as inspiration for me. They moved from Nigeria to America for us to pursue higher education. They have remained my biggest supporters in all aspects of my life.
What has helped you to succeed in your overall personal and professional journey?
My work ethic and my passions have kept me focused and motivated to do anything I put my mind to.
What advice would you offer to current students?
Find something you are passionate about and give it your all! Stay focused and disciplined.
What have been some of your greatest personal or professional successes?
My personal successes include qualifying for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics while working full time as an engineer, winning my first global medal at the Commonwealth Games, and receiving national honors. Professionally, a highlight has been working start to finish on the new Ford Super Duty truck and seeing customers at car shows appreciate the hard work that went into the design.
Published March 3, 2023