Breaking Barriers: A Trailblazing Female Engineer’s Journey in Nigeria

Breaking Barriers: A Trailblazing Female Engineer's Journey in Nigeria

Funmilade Akingbagbohun, the National Chairman of the Nigerian Institution of Mechanical Engineers, shares her inspiring story of overcoming gender stereotypes and paving the way for women in engineering.

Engineering has long been considered a male-dominated field, but Funmilade Akingbagbohun is breaking barriers and defying stereotypes. As the first female National Chairman of the Nigerian Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Akingbagbohun’s journey is one of passion, perseverance, and a relentless pursuit of her dreams. In this article, we delve into her experiences, the challenges she faced, and the impact she is making in the engineering industry.

A Spark of Interest Ignites a Passion for Engineering

Akingbagbohun’s fascination with engineering began at a young age when she discovered her knack for problem-solving. A simple act of fixing a malfunctioning television sparked her interest in understanding how things work. This curiosity led her to explore the world of engineering, where she realized that it encompassed everything she was passionate about – creating solutions and making a tangible impact on society.

Overcoming Obstacles and Pursuing Her Dreams

Despite her passion, Akingbagbohun faced skepticism and resistance from her parents and society. The male-dominated nature of the field made her parents hesitant about her choice. However, with the support of influential figures and her unwavering determination, she embarked on her journey in mechanical engineering. Akingbagbohun’s resilience was tested as she found herself as the only female in her class, but she refused to be deterred. She proved her mettle, excelled in her studies, and paved the way for other women to follow.

Navigating a Male-Dominated Environment

In a field where men traditionally held sway, Akingbagbohun’s relationship with her male classmates and colleagues was crucial. She emphasizes the importance of mutual respect and collaboration, highlighting the camaraderie she shared with her male counterparts. While she faced instances of bullying and discrimination, Akingbagbohun stood her ground, asserting her right to be in the field and contribute to the industry’s growth.

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The Role of Policies and Curriculum in Engineering Practice

Akingbagbohun sheds light on the challenges faced by mechanical engineers in Nigeria. She points to the lack of practical experience and outdated curriculum in tertiary institutions as major obstacles to the profession’s growth. The gap between classroom knowledge and industry demands hampers the ability of engineers to fully utilize their skills. She emphasizes the need for investment in modern equipment and curriculum updates to bridge this divide and enhance the practice of engineering in Nigeria.

The Potential of Mechanical Engineering in Nigeria

Despite the challenges, Akingbagbohun sees immense potential for mechanical engineers in Nigeria. From automobile production and repairs to manufacturing and innovation, she believes that the profession holds the key to solving the country’s challenges and driving economic growth. However, she stresses the importance of favorable policies and an enabling environment to encourage local production and manufacturing, urging the government to prioritize local content and support homegrown initiatives.

Embracing Artificial Intelligence and Technology

Akingbagbohun acknowledges the growing role of artificial intelligence (AI) and technology in engineering. She highlights Nigeria’s gradual progress in this area, citing the emergence of data science, analytics, and design as evidence of the country’s potential. While there are still hurdles to overcome, she remains optimistic that Nigeria will continue to embrace AI and technology, leveraging its engineers’ skills and international collaborations to stay at the forefront of technological advancements.

Promoting Local Content and Celebrating Nigerian Engineers

Akingbagbohun emphasizes the need for Nigeria to celebrate and support its engineers. She laments the lack of recognition and investment in local talent, which often leads to innovations being taken abroad for further development. She calls for a reevaluation of local content policies and the creation of an enabling environment that fosters creativity, innovation, and manufacturing. By doing so, she believes Nigeria can reclaim its status as a production giant and stimulate economic growth.

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Funmilade Akingbagbohun’s journey as a trailblazing female engineer in Nigeria serves as an inspiration to aspiring engineers, particularly women. Her story highlights the importance of passion, perseverance, and breaking through gender barriers. As the first female National Chairman of the Nigerian Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Akingbagbohun is leaving an indelible mark on the industry, proving that with determination and support, anyone can achieve their dreams and make a significant impact in their chosen field.

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