Oyedepo “Depo” Oyerinde has accomplished a lot, but is just getting started. The senior, majoring in electrical engineering and staying an extra year to obtain a master’s degree in computer engineering, looks to the future and sees nothing but possibilities.
It’s a wonder Oyerinde has time to look forward at all, given his busy schedule: he works five jobs, holds three executive board positions, is an RA in College-in-the-Woods, plays the euphonium for the Wind Symphony, is a member of the Global Medical Admissions Alliance and participates in the Latin dance club Quimbamba. His work responsibilities include proctoring calculus exams, providing IT services for students in his residential community, mentoring Student Support Services (SSS) students and working in Bartle Library. His e-board positions span the Electrical and Computer Engineering Honor Society, the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and the Mars Rover team in Watson Competes!
His philosophy in life is simple: “Don’t limit yourself. Go after every opportunity you want.”
Oyerinde lives in Yonkers now, but was born in Atlanta, Ga., and also lived in South Africa for five years. His father is a doctor; his mother is a financial investigator. His twin brother attends Columbia University and studies computer science.
You could say that STEM has been a part of Oyerinde’s life since the beginning, but, ultimately, he credits the television show How It’s Made for his love of engineering.
“I think, for me, it really got me so excited to see how things that we use everyday are put together and how they make life simpler for people,” he said.
He loved watching as the show broke down the construction of simple, everyday objects into a language that anyone could understand.
“Engineering takes something that’s complicated and makes it a little bit simpler. That’s something that I really grew to love.” That love is palpable — he talks about it with a smile and codes computer programs in his (rare) spare time.
Oyerinde’s diversity of interests provides his life balance, he said. In addition to the euphonium, which he hopes to continue playing for fun after college, he plays piano, baritone horn, trombone and tuba because music helps him relax and focus.
“I really got attracted to the brass instruments; when I was younger, it was because they were shiny and gold so I was like ‘Oh, I’ve gotta do this,’” Oyerinde said. “And then I really started to fall in love with them.”
He’s also a sports fan and totally willing and eager to try anything, even if he’s terrible at it.
“If I don’t know how to play it, I’ll learn,” he laughed.
Oyerinde has also given back to his community since he was a teen, something he’s proud of. Community service has taught him valuable life lessons, but the most important thing he learned was being adaptable, he said.
At 14, he achieved the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America after revamping a community butterfly garden. A preserve spread over a massive plot of land near his home, the garden was overrun with deer and invasive species. He fenced the garden to keep deer out, planted flowers to attract more butterflies, and cleaned out poison ivy and other invasive species.
“Being adaptable is probably the best skill that I could’ve gotten from that,” he said. “It just reminds me that life doesn’t always give you lemons, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to figure out how to make lemonade somehow. Being creative and figuring out how to do that has helped me in engineering and life in general.”
The butterfly garden was a success, and the experience helped him realize just how much change he could make.
At Binghamton, as a senior TRIO mentor, Oyerinde helps new students enrolled in SSS, a federally funded program that supports low-income or first-generation students, find their way. While his parents were educated, they did not earn their degrees in the United States, so Oyerinde understands the difficulties of navigating the American college system as a first-generation student. His mentor in the TRIO program helped him immensely, prompting him to want to do the same for other students.
“[When] you’re able to help and guide somebody, it feels so amazing to see them succeed using the advice that you gave them,” he said.
Oyerinde also takes on a mentorship role in his work with Information Technology Services as a residential consultant (ResCon) for fellow students. As a senior ResCon, he runs the program that provides tech support for students living on campus. His personal goal is to teach his peers how to fix issues themselves in an attempt to make engineering, even at a basic level, accessible to everyone.
Oyerinde has also spent four years on the Mars Rover Team in Watson Competes!, a program offered through the Thomas J. Watson College of Engineering and Applied Science that focuses on giving students hands-on engineering experience in a fun, competitive environment.
“[The competitions] are geared toward industry and industry standards,” Oyerinde said. “You get the experience you need.” He is currently the environmental analysis team lead.
His Mars Rover experience has contributed to the success he’s achieved at the internship he’s held for the past two years with Amazon in California. He worked in the manufacture and design department and has a job lined up after he graduates if he wants it, but Oyerinde is setting his sights on hardware design. He dreams of running his own company some day, and it’s clear that he’s willing to put in the work necessary to do it; his daily schedule is regularly booked solid until 11 p.m.
He’s proudest not of his high grades or well-rounded schedule, but of the impact he leaves on others — his ability to give back to students and pass along the help he has received.
“Seeing those students succeed … has been something that I take pride and joy in,” Oyerinde said.
It all comes back to the people: he’s grateful for the people he has met along the way, for the people he helped and for those who have helped him. He’s proud to be a part of projects like the butterfly garden that are so rooted in community, but that also challenged him.
“Be open to anything,” he said. “Be willing to find what you’re looking for and take it.”
Oyerinde clearly follows his own advice: he refuses to limit himself, he goes for every opportunity he wants and he never says no. He’s just getting started, and he’s far from finished.