September 9, 2007Her job: Lecturer, University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, NIGERIA
Describe what you do in your current work situation?
I teach civil engineering to university undergraduates at the College of Engineering, University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria and to postgraduate diploma students on a part- time basis at The Polytechnic, Ibadan, Nigeria. In addition to my teaching activities, I manage a consultancy firm and provide engineering services and training on computer literacy and computer-aided design/drafting. The rest of my time is usually spent on research activities. I do research in the area of transportation planning and modeling. I also direct a group of postgraduate diploma students on various research projects.
Why did you choose engineering?
I chose Engineering because of my desire to contribute my quota in solving infrastructural problems confronting my community. I derive great satisfaction in solving problems and providing services that make life better for people.
Where did you go to school and what degree(s) do you have?
I have a B.Sc. degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria. My M.Sc. in Industrial and Production Engineering is from the University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria. I am currently a PhD student in the Department of Civil Engineering, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria.
What kinds of activities have typically been part of your work?
I started in a government agency responsible for the development of infrastructures in Abuja, the new capital of Nigeria. My job was to supervise contractors handling various projects such as civil works around shopping centres, schools and resettlement units. I later moved to a consultancy firm where I participated in the design and construction supervision of many road projects. After my Masters programme, I floated a consultancy firm and got engaged in part-time teaching at diploma and postgraduate diploma levels at The Polytechnic, Ibadan, Nigeria. I provide engineering services and training on computer aided design/drafting. I have been involved in a number of projects with team members to improve access and mobility of rural dwellers, especially school children to ensure their maximum participation in the Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme of my country in line with the millennium development goals of the United Nations. I am now a Lecturer in the Department of Civil Engineering, College of Engineering, University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria. I instruct students in Engineering courses, both theoretical and practical courses, guide them in writing their dissertations as well as supervise them when they are on Industrial Attachment.
What do you like best about being an engineer?
Engineering is all about challenges. The challenges consist of conception, designing, construction, operation, and maintenance of "objects", such as: simple to complex structures; transportation modes; automobiles; airplanes and space rockets; portable water; solid and waste water management; electricity and electronics; telecommunication, petrochemical industries, complex systems, etc. efficiently and effectively for the overall wellbeing of mankind. I took up the challenge and I am happy for it.
What challenges have you met and conquered in your pursuit of an engineering career?
The biggest challenge I have is trying to convince people that there is no-go area for women in engineering. For example, I was denied being the Resident Engineer in some road construction projects simply because I am a woman, for it was the views of the decision-makers that I must not be separated from my family, regardless of my opinion. This is a battle most women in the profession are fighting in my locality. I think the only way out is striving to excel in the assignment we have and taking up more challenges.
Please tell us a little about your family.
My husband, John Oluwole A. Akintayo teaches law to undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria. (He calls himself a "Social Engineer"). We are blessed with Aanuoluwapo, an inquisitive boy who is interested in asking "why" of everything.
What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term (10+ years) goals?
Short term goals: Obtain my PhD in Transportation Modelling. Long Term goals: Rise to the peak of my career as an academic and have a College of Technology to train young people in my community.
What (or who) had/has the greatest influence on your life choices?
My early deep interest in science and mathematics, the bedrock of engineering, has greatly helped me in the series of educational and professional training received. The achievements of the few women in the various fields of engineering in my community also motivated me that indeed engineering is for "girls" and "others". My late father and his late civil engineer friend were of great support in my choice of civil engineering discipline.
What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in engineering?
Engineering is all about solving problems. Women are perhaps confronted with the task of solving problems on a more frequent basis than their male counterparts. In the home, at work, in the community, women possibly interact more with the products of engineering activities and observe their inadequacies. They are therefore in a position to identify the challenges of life that are amenable to engineering solutions and to conceptualise the solutions. Young girls should never be deterred from pursuing careers in Engineering. Women Engineers can rise to the peak of their chosen careers. Engineering is a profession for women too. Are you considering a career today? Think Engineering! Do you have flair for mathematics and the sciences? Think engineering! Are you a problem solver? Think engineering!
Describe something about your life outside of work: your hobbies, or perhaps a favorite book.
I love to sing and dance. I am the Secretary of the Choir in my local Church. I enjoy reading, especially Christian literature. I like to study nature too.