Akilu obtained his first degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Maiduguri, Nigeria. He then joined LafargeHolcim Cement PLC, first as a junior Methods/Reliability engineer and later as the Maintenance Team Leader on a multi-million pounds coal grinding plant project.
In 2008, Akilu moved to the UK for his MSc in Maintenance Engineering and Asset Management (now known as Reliability Engineering and Asset Management) at the School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering (MACE). Upon completing his MSc in 2009, Akilu rejoined LafargeHolcim where he served as training and learning manager; health and safety manager; and maintenance manager.
In late 2012, Akilu returned to the University of Manchester for his PhD in Condition Monitoring of Rotating Machines, with particular interest in the development of data fusion techniques that can simplify fault detection and classification. During this time, he authored and reviewed several research articles published in internationally recognised journals and conference proceedings. Akilu has been a lecturer in Plant Reliability and Maintenance Engineering within the School of MACE since November 2015.