Time Management, Key In Life Of Female Mechanical Engineer.-Akingbagbohun
Funmi Akingbagbohun is the Lagos State chapter chair person of the Nigeria Institution of Mechanical Engineers. She
explains in this Interview, the involvement of mechanical engineers in building construction projects and several others. Enjoy:
The issue of trust has been the bane of the mechanical engineering profession in this part of the world. How do you think this can be curbed?
It has become common knowledge that majority of people don’t actually use registered engineers for some of their construction because they want to cut cost. There are various modalities put in place by the engineering body to ensure that trust is maintained in the profession.
There are engineering monitoring teams like a task force set up to ensure that codes and standards are maintained at construction site by the engineers. Also, most organisations ensure proper bidding procedure by using the engineering professional bodies for the selection of contractors. This helps in ensuring that the experienced ones are chosen and integrity is maintained.
There are complaints that there are so many White expatriates in the Niger Delta. Are our own engineers and contractors not equal to the task?
If our engineers are given the opportunity, they can perform better than most of the foreign technicians brought in. We should not allow the color of the skin to mar us from using experienced people within our community.
Madam, what informed your undertaking a course of study in a male dominated field?
I have always had interest in learning about how things work generally. This developed to my study of mechanical engineering because it is quite interesting to design a drawing, fabricate with materials and metals and you get something beautiful that is moving and can also solve a practical problem.
Were you not persecuted/criticized for such attempt? And if given the opportunity, would you employ female mechanical engineers to work with you?
It is quite challenging to be a female engineer amongst men, there are lots of issues with the men but all in all, facing the goal at hand and focusing on what one would like to achieve helps one to move forward faster.
I encourage a lot of female engineers and mentor them. I run an internship program for engineers generally and particularly give preference to the ladies.
What do you like most about your call career and if given a second chance, would you still be a mechanical engineer?
I enjoy mechanical engineering as a career because it’s all about problem solving. When it moves, it’s mechanical. Mechanical engineering is the bedrock for all engineering, l would choose it over and over again because engineering is the key to nation building.
Is it possible, as a female mechanical engineer, to be self employed and maintain a healthy balance between work life and family life?
It is possible to be self-employed especially as a mechanical engineer because there are massive opportunities depending on your area of specialization. Mechanical engineering is wide, ranging from automobile workshop, air conditioning, fabrication and machine shops, design, facility maintenance, welding etc.
Managing work life balance for a female engineer is quite challenging but if you set your priorities right and you are focused and apply time management skills with your goals in mind, the sky would not be your limit but your starting point.
Presently, nothing worries me more than the challenges of unemployment and lack of opportunities for our young engineers wherein many of them are unable to acquire practical experience after graduation. It is a national challenge and we have taken it upon ourselves to ensure that the gap between the classroom and the industry is bridged for the students and graduate members. The Nigerian Institution of Mechanical Engineers is focused on professional development of our members through training, internship, workshops and mentoring program.
The built environment consists of all aspects of our daily lives. If you are looking for a career with a big future and want to be a problem solver, then mechanical engineering is open for you. The world of productivity is at the feet of the engineers and they are the permanent road out of our current recession and towards enduring economic prosperity and social development, to make Nigeria truly great. It is time to challenge the engineers to show what they are capable of.
Finally, it is an illusion to expect other nations to come and develop Nigeria because they cannot love Nigeria more than Nigerians
What is your advice to young intending lady mechanics?
For me, they should be focused because there are so many oppositions for females in male dominated fields. They have to set their goals and be determined to achieve them. They should not be distracted by some of the obstacles that they will be seeing because they will definitely come. Even the people you least expect would stand your way, will surely come.
As many things as would want to put the person down in terms of barriers, she should try as much as possible to avoid it. Also, when it comes to work life balance, that is, relating your work with your family, she should be able to balance all those things because I can assure you that there are so many obstacles and potholes on the way when it comes to the female. You know engineering involves physical, mental and financial commitment. She should be able to balance everything together in order to be able achieve her goals.
How about getting dirty? Do you think she would be able to attract the opposite sex with that kind of course of study?
I studied mechanical engineering in the school, I was able to get married and today I have four children.
It all depends on how the lady presents herself. A lot of the time people get discouraged because of what other people say to them about their goal and passion. By the end of the day, they see themselves doing something entirely different from what the originally intended.
You have to be able to know what you want to do in life and what you want to become irrespective of what people think or say. Then you go ahead to set your goals in a way that you can achieve them. I have a lot of engineering friends in the oil and gas, and they have been able to pull their own weights in those areas.
Do you think she would be able to attract the opposite sex with that?
She definitely will. There is something I want to teach the young female engineers. It is about being able to manage your time and your home, your work and your life; because apart from your work and your home, you also have a life to live. You must be able to manage the three together. The issue of time management is very key in the life of a female mechanical engineer.
Apart from that, for the person to be able to sustain her home, she needs to be very humble. For you to get the support of the man, you need to be humble, patient, and be willing to adhere to the rules of the man. Those things are very key because men are very supportive if you are very humble and submissive. Above all you must learn to carry them along in whatever you do. If you adhere to all these things, you will definitely enjoy them.
This artiele was first published in Independence