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Ngalula Sandrine Mubenga, Phd, PE


Class of 2005


Kikwit, Democratic Republic of Congo


Electrical Engineering

photo of Dr. Mubenga
“As a girl in the Democratic Republic of Congo, I nearly died waiting for surgery because a hospital had no power. I came to The University of Toledo to change that — and I did.”
Dr. Mubenga and her battery

Realizing potential

Born and raised in The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Sandrine Mubenga had visited schools in Africa and Europe before deciding to attend college in Toronto to study engineering. En route to Canada to begin her freshman year, she decided to stop and see family in Toledo first — and visit The University of Toledo.

Dr. Mubenga and her battery
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“I never did make it to Canada,” she laughed. “I had all my papers in place, and all the arrangements had been made. But, I liked the engineering program at The University of Toledo, and the opportunity to do co-ops. And I had friends at other schools and could compare their experiences with what UToledo offered. So, I changed my plans.”

Fueled by purpose

Sandrine’s pursuit of an engineering degree was mission-driven. “As a child, I nearly died waiting for surgery because a hospital in the DRC had no power,” she explained. “I came to the University of Toledo to change that.”

“At the bachelor’s level, I was already working on solar photovoltaic battery systems,” she said. “After graduating and working for a power company, I returned to UToledo for my master’s degree, where I worked on extending the range of electric vehicles through hydrogen fuel cell technology.”

Upon completing her masters, Sandrine realized one aspect of her dream to bring reliable power to her home country — she founded her own company, SMIN Power Group, which designs and installs solar systems in DRC.

Pushing further — and inspiring others to follow

But Sandrine didn’t stop there — she went on to earn her PhD at UToledo, too. Her groundbreaking doctoral work with Dr. Tom Stuart produced a battery management technology called the “bilevel equalizer.” The system significantly increases both battery life and capacity of lithium ion batteries, and could enable renewable energy use in applications where limited battery life was previously an obstacle.

Now, as a member of UToledo’s engineering faculty, Dr. Sandrine Mubenga is helping other young engineers realize their potential. Describing the joys of mentoring students, she said, “When someone ‘gets it’ — when that lightbulb is lit — it is priceless. And once it is lit, it glows brighter and brighter — I just love seeing that.”

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Last Updated: 6/30/19