Championing diversity in engineering
For the Institution of Engineering and Technology's 2023 Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards, three QEPrize Ambassadors have been nominated as finalists. The award celebrates women in STEM who are passionate about making their mark and inspiring the next generation. We spoke to them about why diversity in engineering is important and how they're working to banish outdated engineering stereotypes.
Titi Oliyide, Zainab Adigun and Krystina Pearson-Rampeearee tell us more.
Titi Oliyide, Zainab Adigun and Krystina Pearson-Rampeearee
How has engineering impacted your life and what advice would you give to young women thinking about a career in engineering?
I have enjoyed my engineering career so far. It has given me a chance to do meaningful work, ensuring safety in the design and operation of engineering systems within the transportation and energy industries. As an engineer, I also have the opportunity to work with brilliant teammates to provide engineering solutions that make lives better.
My advice to young women thinking about a career in engineering is to stay curious, keep learning and develop a problem-solving mindset. Do not let anyone tell you engineering isn’t for you. Engineers solve challenges that impact society, whether it’s in energy, infrastructure, or healthcare. Everyone has something to contribute to solve these challenges in a sustainable and equitable way.
Engineering has helped me to understand structures which was something I was also keen about when I was a young child. As an engineer, I have also been lucky enough to match my love for drama with my engineering career which is really a dream for me.
When I advise young women thinking about a career in engineering, I usually try to get them to think about their hobbies. When I visit all-girls schools or speak to young individuals, I try and find out their interests then link it to an engineering job. For example, I spoke to a girl who said she loved trainers, so I told her about a product design engineer who works closely with organisations such as Nike, making hi-tech and innovative footwear.
A career in engineering has led to various experiences that I would have never imagined! For any young woman considering a career in engineering I would say be open to new experiences and surround yourself with people who support you. There are also opportunities to connect with like-minded, supportive people through networking or mentorship.
How have you used engineering to change the world?
As a senior safety engineer, I analyse and challenge engineering designs to identify hazards within the process and system. These hazards are then eliminated or mitigated to ensure the smooth running of the engineered system. Safety is integral to the sustainability and longevity of the solutions that engineering provides. I have had the opportunity to work on the safety of complex systems such as the Elizabeth line, which has greatly impacted the ease of travel into central London. I am currently working on enabling the development of new electrolyser technology for the safe production of green hydrogen.
As a senior structural engineer, I continuously seek to improve the process of offering sustainable building solutions. Recently, I gave my technical advice about the practical application of dismountable composite floors (concrete slab and steel beams with shear connectors). This advice is used and shared with my organisation and any design team at the early stage of the project to inform the design of composite floors. This, in effect, will help to achieve the key sustainability targets because building with demountable composite floors is an environmentally friendly solution.
I’ve used engineering to contribute to many different products that are used across the globe. I’ve also been able to work on developing technologies for future air and sea projects.
Why is diversity in engineering so important?
The challenges that we are solving as engineers in our world today are increasingly multifaceted and challenging. Improving diversity in engineering ensures that we utilise a wide range of innovative capabilities. A diverse engineering workforce also increases our chances of producing relevant solutions that fit our rapidly changing world.
In addition, diversity in engineering shows a greater percentage of the younger generation that it is possible to create impact through a career in engineering.Zainab
Being a young Black woman engineer does not come without its challenges, mainly because I didn’t have any role models to follow. My drive and success today are driven mainly by my ambition to break the status quo of who an engineer is, and what they should look like. I want to be a role model for others.
I believe my story into engineering is relatable, diverse, and accessible which the industry needs more of. It is vital to show others it is possible to overcome their own life challenges and still be successful. In addition, being a young mum and navigating the world of engineering encourages other women to see it is possible to 'have it all'.
I’ve been told many times that I don’t ‘look like an engineer’ which is why awards like this are vital for showcasing the diversity in engineering.
Encouraging and inspiring more young people to consider STEM careers is something I’m very passionate about and it’s important to talk about engineering as there is still a misconception about what engineering is.
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