Creativity in Engineering

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For Yewande Akinola MBE, engineering is all about staying curious, expressing creativity, and imagining the impossible.

Yewande Akinola is an award-winning chartered engineer, communicator, and role model. In 2020, she received an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honour’s list for services to Engineering Innovation and Diversity in STEM.

Inspired to become an engineer owing to the intermittent water supply she experienced growing up in Nigeria, she now specialises in sustainable water management, working on projects in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.

In this episode of Create the Future, we explore Yewande’s varied career, from sustainable waterparks to television presenting on National Geographic. We discuss the importance of engineering mentors, her passion for communication, and how creativity (embracing culture, art, and music) is an essential tool for any engineer.

About the guest

Yewande Akinola MBE is an award-winning chartered engineer specialising in sustainable water supplies.

Yewande obtained a bachelor’s degree in Engineering Design and Appropriate Technology from the University of Warwick in 2007 and, after a brief time in industry, completed her master's in Innovation and Design for Sustainability at Cranfield University. She currently works as Innovation Lead at Laing O'Rourke alongside her role as visiting professor at the University of Westminster.

She has won the Institution for Engineering and Technology’s Young Woman Engineer of the Year Award, the Association for Black Engineers Exceptional Achiever Award, and was recently named one of Europe’s top Influential Women in Engineering by the Financial Times.

Episode Highlights

  • “What we need to do is find the art in engineering, art is the universal language. Find that thing that everybody else can relate to, they can see, they can feel. That is what I love about communicating engineering ideas.”
  • “I’m just in awe of our world. I'm in awe of the talent and the hard work that has gone into creating a wonderful planet to live in.”
  • “I grew up in communities where I can see the direct impact of good infrastructure, as well as the lack of infrastructure. And I remember as a kid there were times we wouldn't have water flowing through our taps[…] that stuck with me.”
  • “I’m just very proud and very grateful for the opportunity to see something that's going to have an impact on people's lives.”
  • On judging the QEPrize Create the Trophy competition: “what I really appreciated was the fact that these young people had come up with incredible designs. Designs that capture geometry, storytelling, and the future […] that was wonderful. It really, really, really was. It's something that will stay with me forever and ever and ever I think.”
  • “I’ve seen dreams come to life, I've seen them become reality.”
  • “The role that every single toy can potentially have inspiring a young child is really powerful."

Photo by Rohan Makhecha on Unsplash

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