To mark International Women in Engineering Day 2020, Buki Okoro, a Manufacturing Engineer at Ford Motor Company, talks about her career and role in Ford’s contribution to the Ventilator Challenge UK.
How has your day to day work changed since starting to support the ventilator project?
The change has been enormous: new industry, new manufacturing facility, new product, new process, new regulatory body [medical devices], new ways of working and a host more news. The manufacturing delivery life cycle has been compressed from years to weeks – it’s been exciting, demanding, challenging and fulfilling all at the same time.
What is the biggest challenge you have overcome during your time working on this project?
Challenges? Hmm, we have had a few of those on this unique project and we are still working through them.
One that is very close to my heart at this point is the Device History Record (Challenge is still ongoing). Some background: with every vent box assembled in the Ford Motor Company facility, there is a form that needs to be filled which is called the device history record. It basically gives you a record of all the tests that have been done on the unit, by who, when, and the results of each test. On this form we also record traceability information of a few critical parts assembled in the vent box. It is a 14-page document and has to be filled and signed by a minimum of 18 people at different stages in the vent box test process. I Am sure you can imagine what could go wrong with trying to get 18 people to fill a piece of paper accurately whilst conducting the various tests, ensuring your writing is legible at all times , ensuring the piece of paper is kept with the vent box at all times and ensuring we ship the vent box with the right pieces of paper. Yes the process is all paper based which isn’t a norm for FMC.
When and why did you first decide to become an engineer?Initially it was the love of maths plus good career prospects, and then the general wonderment of how engineering was so much a part of everyday life. I was generally intrigued by the fact that as an Engineer I could make anything in the world from fancy structures and buildings to aeroplanes and cars and then chocolate. What else could a little girl want?
What do you enjoy most about your career?
Variety. The diversity of the work that I do ensures that no day is like any other. It’s always evolving and constantly keeps me engaged.
What struggles do you feel that female engineers face in their careers today, if any?
Hmmm… this is a difficult one… I believe as human beings we all face different challenges at different points and times in our careers. Have I had a challenge that I could say was basically because I am female? The answer is no, and this isn’t a general statement – it is very personal. And I might have very different views in 5 years from now.
Being a female engineer in a male dominated environment has definitely given me a level of recognition that I would not have had if I was male. But gender is just one part of who I am. The different experiences, backgrounds and points of view is what makes engineering richer.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to a young woman who is considering engineering as a career?
Take the time to explore as much possible. You have a unique opportunity to try out different disciplines, activities, and classes to discover what interests you have. Don’t be held back by stereotypes, if you are passionate about it and you believe you can do it, go for it. By knowing what excites you, you will be able to forge your own career path.
International Women in Engineering Day – June 23 – is an awareness campaign to raise the profile of women in engineering and focuses attention on the amazing career opportunities available to girls in this exciting industry. It also celebrates the outstanding achievements of women engineers throughout the world. The event is organised by The Women’s Engineering Society. This year’s theme is #ShapeTheWorld #INWED20