In an exclusive interview, Funmilade Akingbagbohun, the National Chairman of the Nigerian Institution of Mechanical Engineers, discussed her journey into the field of engineering, shedding light on the challenges and triumphs she encountered as a woman in a traditionally male-dominated profession. Akingbagbohun’s passion for engineering was ignited during her adolescence when she successfully repaired a malfunctioning television set, an experience that fueled her desire to create solutions to real-world challenges. Despite being the only female student in her class when she embarked on her engineering studies, Akingbagbohun persevered, emphasizing that her interest in creation and problem-solving overshadowed any gender-related reservations.
Reflecting on her parents’ initial skepticism, she acknowledged the support she received from influential figures, such as a family friend who was a professor and head of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Lagos. Addressing the dynamics within her academic journey, Akingbagbohun shared her experiences of initially being the sole female student in her class at Yaba College of Technology. She narrated the challenges faced during practical sessions involving foundry work, metal melting, welding, and machining, underscoring the mental strength and creativity required in engineering.
Committed to developing mech. engineering in Nigeria.
Also, Akingbagbohun applauded the positive relationships she formed with her male classmates, both during her studies and in subsequent professional settings. The conversation delved into the issue of gender-based bullying, with Akingbagbohun recounting a memorable incident where she stood firm against prejudiced remarks on a construction site. Despite acknowledging the existence of such challenges in the industry, she emphasized the importance of confidence, self-assurance, and resilience in navigating a traditionally male-dominated field. Transitioning to her current role as the first female National Chairman of the Nigerian Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Akingbagbohun highlighted the challenges she faced, including competition from male colleagues.
Undeterred, she expressed her commitment to contributing to the development of mechanical engineering in Nigeria, outlining her goals and vision for the institution. Akingbagbohun addressed the broader issues affecting the mechanical engineering profession in Nigeria. She attributed the underutilization of mechanical engineers to inadequate curriculum alignment with industry needs, outdated equipment in tertiary institutions, and a failure to adapt to evolving technologies. Despite these challenges, she emphasized the vast opportunities for mechanical engineers in sectors such as automobiles, cooling systems, and manufacturing, urging a shift towards problem-solving and innovation.
Unfavourable economic policies as a hindrance.
On the topic of car production in Nigeria, Akingbagbohun pointed to unfavourable economic policies as a hindrance. She advocated for the involvement of engineers in policy-making to create an enabling environment for production and manufacturing, citing the need for conducive policies to revive Nigeria’s status as a production giant in Africa. In response to concerns about Nigeria lagging in artificial intelligence and technology, Akingbagbohun expressed optimism, stating that the country is gradually advancing in these fields through data science and analytics.
She underscored the importance of continued interaction and exchange programs with other countries to keep pace with global technological advancements. Finally, Akingbagbohun addressed the preference for foreign-manufactured cars over locally produced ones in Nigeria. She emphasized the need for the government to revisit local content policies, urging a renewed focus on manufacturing initiatives and the celebration of local engineers. Akingbagbohun called for increased support for Nigerian engineers, highlighting their potential to lead the nation towards self-sufficiency and productivity.
Vision and mission of the engineering organization.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Institution of Mechanical Engineers (NIMechE) operates as the Mechanical Division of The Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), possessing full standing authority as outlined in The Nigerian Society of Engineers’ Articles of Association. Established in December 2002 during the Annual General Meeting of the Mechanical Engineering Division in Port Harcourt, the transformation into NIMechE was unanimously endorsed. Led by Engr. (Chief) Akintunde S. Zedomi and elected officials, the institution strives to uphold the rightful position of Mechanical Engineering in Nigeria, aiming to be the leading entity for professional development, knowledge acquisition, and dissemination in the field and related disciplines.