Welcome

Yewande Akinola

A woman who loves the challenge of taking engineering ideas from concept through to manufacture, Yewande has been recognised for her commitment to sustainability and innovation, especially around water supply technology.

Image of Yewande Akinola  

"I would absolutely recommend getting chartered to my fellow engineers. It is truly rewarding and there is no doubt that, like myself, one would come through the process with renewed inspiration to contribute to the progress of the engineering industry."

Introduction

Yewande works for ARUP as an environmental services engineer, and now holds the title of 2012 IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year.

She came to ARUP after completing a degree in engineering design and appropriate technology at the University of Warwick and a master’s in innovation and design for sustainability from Cranfield University.

The beauty of engineering...

Originally she had planned to train as an architect, but her mother thought she’d really excel if she entered the engineering world.

"My mum thought that as an engineer I’d have a lot more opportunity to express my desire to create inspiring spaces for people to live and work in, so I gave it some thought," she says.

"When I started to really think about it, I thought yes, I’m interested in water engineering, I’m interested in transport, energy – having spent time growing up in a developing country energy was a big problem. I thought that instead of designing just comfortable houses, I could design roads and energy systems that would complement the whole idea of comfortable living. That was it for me: I then applied to Warwick."

Yewande loves that she’s able to marry all these areas in her engineering work and truly enjoys the challenge of taking engineering ideas from concept through to manufacture.

"The beauty of engineering is that its basic principles span across many different areas and aspects: communications, structures etc. That variety has helped me stay interested," she notes.

Yewande is keen to share the thrills of life in this industry and so combines her career with media roles where she can promote engineering to the general public. She’s already appeared on shows on Channel 4 and Discovery, and her work in this arena continues.

"All my media work has been about promoting engineering from start to finish," she says. "I’ve always been a great believer in enjoying what you do and communicating that fact. No two engineers are the same, but letting people see what you do and that you’re enjoying it means there’s the potential for others to find and love their own niche. Working with the media is my way of expressing that."

Her first work in this area was appearing on Channel 4’s Titanic: The Mission, which saw a team of engineers reproduce a 30ft section of the ship’s steel bow to scale, and erect it at the Belfast dock where Titanic was launched.

"I heard about it through a colleague at work. I thought I didn’t know a lot about ships but it seemed a good challenge, so I called them. I went along to the audition and met the other guys. I had to complete a couple of tasks around carpentry and building things and later got a call asking if I’d like to join the team. It was the beginning of a new exploration for me. There’s the adrenaline of looking into the unknown and still going for it!"

2012 IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year

When it came to winning Young Woman Engineer of the Year, Yewande says the award means a lot to her.

"These awards are very prestigious. In a way, people in industry see these as the perfect expression of excellence," she says.

She decided to apply after an appearance in a newspaper led to friends and colleagues believing she’d already won.

"I appeared in an article in The Independent last year and there was an advert on the same page for the Institution of Engineering and Technology awards. Because my picture appeared right next to this a lot of people thought I’d won it," she laughs.

"I had to tell people no, but I did look it up and realised what it was all about. I thought I’ve got a year to work as hard as possible and come up with some impressive stuff, so I gave myself that year and then applied."

"It’s inspiring and encouraging to be a finalist, let alone a winner," she continues. "This award will push me forward; help me carry on my engineering quest as such. It will allow me to reach out to more people and get involved in high-level decisions that may encourage women into engineering and also stick with engineering. That’s a problem too I believe – a lot of women come in and leave after a few years."

"Winning this has encouraged me to work even harder to put all the effort I can into spreading the message about how successful women in engineering are and can be. I’m hoping this will help me tell an effective story that will inspire young girls to consider a career in engineering and will demonstrate the diverse and fantastic opportunities this industry has to offer."

Gaining CEng

Yewande was awarded Chartered Engineer status in December 2014.

"Becoming Chartered was a significant achievement. In a way, it felt like an ‘endorsement’ of all my work so far as well as my development over the years. I very much enjoyed the process. It tested my engineering technical skills as well as my management skills. Throughout the process, I was challenged to demonstrate my understanding of buildings’ design principles and the regulations that ensure that our buildings are designed and constructed to acceptable standards. It included outlining how I have incorporated innovative solutions in projects that I have worked on. I also had the fantastic opportunity of being interviewed by accomplished Engineers which meant I also came out of the process, learning new things that have now become very useful in my work."

"I would absolutely recommend getting chartered to my fellow engineers. It is truly rewarding and there is no doubt that like myself, one would come through the process with renewed inspiration to contribute to the progress of the engineering industry."