Among the various categories of engineering, the civil category also has African women prospering at what they do. Here is one of the many examples;
Hi Precious, thank you for joining us today
Hi Winnie, thank you for having me. I looked through the nice posts on the website and I loved how you’ve been able to put together ladies from different aspects of STEM.
Thank you for the compliment. Kindly introduce yourself to our audience
I am Engr. Precious Kelechi Maduka-Atolagbe, a registered Civil Engineer and member of the Nigeria society of Engineers (NSE) and the Association of Professional Women Engineers in Nigeria (APWEN). Currently, I am the Head of Design at Planet Projects Limited (PPL); an Indigenous Public Transport solutions company in Nigeria. I am from the South-Eastern part of Nigeria, Abia State precisely, and a family of six who loves bonding and cohesion with intelligent and hardworking people. I have a big source of inspiration who happens to be my husband Daniel Atolagbe.
Let’s talk about your journey into civil engineering; we all know the stereotype about women becoming engineers!
In my High School days, I had the option to choose between Agricultural Science and Technical Drawing. I recall my interest in drawing shapes using T-Square, French curves, and the mathematical set. These periods were the sharpening moments of my career. I had no idea what it was until my Dad insisted I meet his friend, the then chairman of the Building Committee of our church (Seventh-Day Adventist, Ogba, Lagos, Nigeria), Engr. (Dr.) Victor O. Oyenuga (FNSE, FNiStructuE, FNIOB). A conversation with him aroused my interest in Civil Engineering and led to him becoming my mentor and adviser on my STEM journey.
As a young female graduate of Civil Engineering, site experience was not fun because I was looked down upon as opposed to my male counterparts. Little or no tasks were assigned to me and I used to get questioned about how work orders were given to laborers that were predominantly male without being intimidated. I was able to break the bias by proving my strength. This was not an easy ride but thanks to senior female Engineers. Engineering is a passion for me and this saw me through. Dreams do come true and this happened to me so it can be for every girl child who would not succumb to cultural or societal intimidation.
You have mentioned some of your challenges as a female civil engineer. How have you been able to push through such situations?
My source of motivation is the desire to conceptualize designs to solve real-life problems and to see designs becoming reality.
Tell us about moments that have made you feel proud to be a civil engineer
Every time I board a bus from the prestigious Oshodi Transport Interchange in Lagos I feel very proud. I worked on this project, where I started the very first pile and watched the very last steel bolt fastened. I had the privilege to work with the piling foundation firm, the RC firm, and the steel contractors. So, I had a rounded experience of the entire construction process.
During the Lockdown in 2020, my friend invited me to join a group of young professionals to nurture them by sharing knowledge that will in turn create sustainability in the profession beyond the classroom. The Young Engineers Forum (YEF) successfully trained over 100 participants in different software and aspects of civil engineering. This also bought about a new zeal to ensure I pass the knowledge I have gained in my few years of experience to young passionate undergraduate engineers I come across.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
Asides from work, I love being around kids and young children. I can spend hours watching them play, singing, and capturing moments with them.
How would you encourage a young African girl who is interested in civil engineering?
Learning is Continuous, never stop unlearning, relearning, and learning new things.
Thank you, Precious, for taking the time to add your voice to this cause. We appreciate your effort to help young civil engineers and wish you the best ahead.