By Funmi Ogundare
The President, Association of Professional Women in Engineering (APWEN), Mrs. Funmilola Ojelade, has stressed the need for stakeholders in the industry to support the association for the mentorship of young engineers.
Ojelade said this recently during a meeting with journalists in Lagos, which kick-started its 2020 four-day virtual conference titled ‘The Dynamics of Engineering Education for Sustainable Economic Development’.
She expressed concern that girls who studied engineering seem to be going into other professions after graduating from school; this she said is why the association has been inviting people especially from multinationals to partner with it and mentor the graduates.
According to her, “we invite industry professionals to mentor young engineers from year three or four in the university. These are the things we needed to work on in this industry. So we invite people from multinationals to come and be mentor partners with us. From there, we could get talents to recruit.
That way, we believe that we could stop all the infiltration of female engineers into other professions. We want them to remain as engineers so that when they finish, they will be employed in companies.”
Emphasising on the impact of COVID-19 on the association and putting together the virtual conference, she said: “It is unique as it is the first virtual conference by any engineering outfit in Nigeria. The interesting thing is that COVID has brought about great ideas and innovations. There were things we were not doing prior to this time.
“The economy keeps evolving and improving, you now need to be more innovative. With innovation, you are able to develop products that you can sell and improve your economy. Once we rebound after the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy is going to be better. We have learnt more innovative ways of doing things, people are thinking harder and smarter and getting out new products that can make the economy better than it was.”
She described Engineering Education as that which requires students to carry out physical activities in the laboratory and workshops, saying that they need to be imparted with the knowledge of the experience in an era of lockdown or physical distancing.
The President of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Babagana Mohammed lauded APWEN’s efforts in promoting engineering career among school girls through its partnership with various organisations.
He expressed delight that the association, which is a division of the society, has continued to display its commitment to its ideals, saying, “your consistency in organising capacity programmes such as this will no doubt, move the division to the desirable altitudes in the drive for the growth of engineering.”
He noted that the theme of the conference is relevant to the speedy industrialisation of the country, adding that as part of its advocacy, the society would continue to engage policy makers and stakeholders to create an appropriate environment for engineering activities to thrive unhindered.
The conference featured discussions by experts on topics such as Engineering Policies, Renewable Energy Technology, Waste Management, Strategic Leadership and Entrepreneurship, Sustainable Materials Processing, Modelling and Simulation of engineering Design, as well as Sustainable Production Systems.
As part of initiatives, the association also held its town and gown mentoring/career fair themed, ‘Industry-focused Capacity Building’, for young engineers, aimed at bridging the gap between the academia and the industry.
During a virtual programme held recently, undergraduate engineering students were linked to mentors from the oil and gas, manufacturing, energy, telecoms, construction companies, among others, according to their field of interest.
The town and gown mentoring programme, sponsored by Worley Foundation, Australia, featured the mentoring of students on how to build a career and be equipped with the required skills to function effectively.
The Governor of Nasarawa State, Abdullahi Sule, who declared the programme open, commended APWEN for its laudable initiative, while appealing to the young engineers to make the best use of the opportunity.
He expressed delight that more women are now being given the opportunity to practice the profession unlike in the past when it was male dominated.
He urged the association to establish a patnership with Dangote Academy so as to further boost skills training.
The Director, Public Affairs, Worley Foundation, Ms Sue Brown described engineering as that which has the possibility of improving the economy and creating prosperity, adding that the foundation has over the years, been supporting STEM education and improving careers for women.
“We are excited about the programme and how it can help promote female engineers in Nigeria,” she said.