Nigeria’s rising star in the United Kingdom, Yewande Akinola, who recently won the Young Woman Engineer of the Year award from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) in London, United Kingdom, consequently placing her among best under 30 female engineers in the UK, will be the new IET’s young woman engineer ambassador for 2013.
Akinola is a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) degree holder in Engineering Design and Appropriate Technology from the University of Warwick, United Kingdom and a Masters degree holder in Innovation and Design from Cranfield University, also in UK. She works with ARUP, a global firm of consulting engineers with its headquarters in the UK.
Reacting to the award which also fetched her cash prize of £2,500, Akinola said: “Winning this has encouraged me to work even harder to put all the effort I can into spreading the message about how successful women in engineering are and can be.
“I’m hoping this will help me tell an effective story that will inspire young girls to consider a career in engineering and will demonstrate the diverse and fantastic opportunities this industry has to offer.”
Justifying Akionla’s choice as the winner of the award, the awarding institution, IET, described her in its publication as “a woman who loves the challenge of taking engineering ideas from concept through to manufacture, she has been recognised for her commitment to sustainability and innovation, especially around water supply technology.”
Akinola had originally planned to train as an architect, but her mother thought she would really excel if she entered the engineering world.
“My mum thought that as an engineer I would have a lot more opportunity to express my desire to create inspiring spaces for people to live and work in, so I gave it some thought.
“When I started to really think about it, I thought yes, I’m interested in water engineering, I’m interested in transport, energy, and having spent time growing up in developing country energy was a big problem. I thought that instead of designing just comfortable houses, I could design roads and energy systems that would complement the whole idea of comfortable living. That was it for me: I then applied to Warwick.
“The beauty of engineering is that its basic principles span across many different areas and aspects: communications, structures etc. That variety has helped me stay interested.
“I would like to call this social engineering. It was an amazing opportunity to work onsite and communicate my design ideas to the people there.
Being able to express engineering concepts and ideas to the people on site is an important part of an engineer’s work,” Akinola said.
Besides, as an engineer, she is also interested in water and sanitation for underdeveloped and developing countries, and this has made her travel to Ghana to look into developing mechanised systems, while she recently went over to Mozambique to work with Water Aid.
“That was really good because engineering is about being able to find the right solutions with the right resources. The problem there in Mozambique was with sanitation. These guys use pit latrines and when full they fill them up and dig new ones. Slowly but surely they’re surrounded by them.
“I came to work with the people there to understand how this problem could be solved. The project was about supporting the sanitation association to go into all these homes and empty the latrines. There is something called a Vacutug that can be used, and these are then emptied at a local waste water treatment centre,” Akinola said, while sharing her experiences during her trips.
(Source: Nigerian Tribune)