APWEN, Unilever strike deal on engineering internships

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A new rapprochement that would further boost the field of engineering in Nigeria has begun between the Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria (APWEN) and one of the world’s greatest consumer goods companies, Unilever Nigeria, as both said last week that they would work together in the engagement and training of upcoming women engineers.
This came to the fore when APWEN, led by its president, Mrs. Nnoli Akpedeye, made an industrial tour to the multi-national company in its Agbara Industrial Estate, Ogun State and received by the company’s Manufacturing Director, Mr. Doyin Ashiru, an engineer.
Akpedeye, a fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), who exuded so much confidence while speaking said, APWEN was in the company to among other things understand the engineering processes in Unilever, to appreciate the works of engineers do and also to see areas of possible collaboration.
“For Unilever, we are here to assess the place female engineers are playing vis-à-vis attaining their potentials; we are also here to introduce our programme on arousing girl-child interest in engineering, an initiative launched in 2013.
With this visit, we have been able to understand that there are opportunities for internship, short-term for upcoming engineers. We are already talking to the company on the internship offer, on the need to give female engineers, more opportunities.”
She said her association was well noted as a driving force for encouraging girls to study and ultimately practice engineering. To actualize this dream, she said that career talks to target age groups and catchment areas were organised, adding that it would continue with greater emphasis placed on local authority and public schools with little or no guidance/career counseling.
“We need to step up on this programme, judging from the responses we got and still getting from those that participated in the talks.”
The APWEN’s president also said the association is interested in creating job opportunities through encouraging entrepreneurship among female engineers, revealing that the group was already working towards getting funds to back the various novel ideas springing up by the day from the female engineers.
According to Ashiru, one thing the female engineers needed to realize was to see for themselves the dynamics of production process alongside the latest technologies with a view to begin thinking not only how to maintain these engineering equipment but to brain storm on developing the instruments locally, too.
On the proposed partnership, Head, Manufacturing Director said: “We are currently discussing having a programme towards developing the female engineers in terms of giving them exposure, by giving them the opportunity what the industry is all about and giving some quality experiences, which can also earn them employment. As soon as the system is in place, approved by APWEN and our organisation, then we would commence. We see as our own contribution to the society”, Unilever gives equal opportunities to both male and female.
APWEN was formed by a handful of women engineers led by Engr. (Mrs.) J. O. Maduka in 1982 was formally inaugurated in 1983. It was originally meant to be a pressure group since most men hiring engineers then would rather have women in the kitchen and not on construction sites nor behind the desk carrying out engineering designs.
It is a division of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) (a non-governmental umbrella body for all engineers in Nigeria) but unlike the other divisions, APWEN is made up of professional female engineers in all disciplines of engineering. It is also a member of the National Council of Women Societies.
At inception in 1982, APWEN had only six members. The membership has grown over the years to over 1500 with members spreading all over the country; the group also has university student membership.
Objectives of the association are to provide a forum for promoting sorority amongst female engineers; to encourage engineering studies and practice amongst female Nigerians and to create a platform by which women engineers can collaborate with other women in other professions in Nigeria and elsewhere, among others.

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