Offionganwan Efiong, 25, is a civil engineer at Aurecon. She speaks about her love for engineering
Have you always had interest in engineering?
No, I was really bad in mathematics in my early years in primary school because there seemed to be rules, principles and theories in mathematics that I could not understand. It was one subject which was a thorn in my flesh. It was only in primary three that my then teacher, Mr. Johnathan, looked straight into my eyes when I walked up to him to collect my mathematics test script and said, “You are very smart Offiong, how come you are not good in maths?” Thereafter, he made it one of his personal goals to teach me mathematics. I do not really know when I began to love it but I suspect it was in primary five when I became the best in mathematics in my class because I had now fully understood the fundamentals of the subject.
What is your educational history?
I attended Auntie Margaret International Nursery and Primary School, Calabar from 1996 to 2005. Thereafter I attended the Federal Government Girl’s College, Calabar, from 2005 to 2010. After that I proceeded to the University of Uyo where I studied civil engineering from 2010 to 2015.
What places have you worked?
I carried out my six months industrial training at Abeno Consulting Limited in Calabar where I worked on highway site supervision. I was constrained to wait for nine months at home for National Youth Service Corps programme so I volunteered at COGED Consulting Limited also in Calabar where I worked as a site engineer throughout those nine months on a four-storey-seven-apartment building. Thereafter I was posted to Lagos State for NYSC and subsequently deployed to an international engineering firm, Aurecon Consulting Engineers Nigeria. The firm retained me after the NYSC programme.
As a civil engineer, what factors are responsible for your accomplishments?
I would say God and plenty of hard work. I leave the office every day between 8 and 9pm not because I have too much work but because I am constantly training myself to be better. I am also always on the lookout to seize opportunities that come my way. I also have not forgotten my amazing family for they have always been my support.
What is your job description?
I work in a consulting firm and I am in the Infrastructure Unit, so I work basically on geometric road designs using AutoCAD civil 3D and Microstation. For the structural designs whenever I am helping out in the Structural Unit I make use of Revit structures.
What motivates your work?
Whenever I pass by a really nice building, it puts a smile on my face. I want to be able to create structures that can stand the test of time.
What do you think is the state of civil engineering in Nigeria?
Civil engineering has come a long way in Nigeria but we still have a long way to go, as there is a concerned trend of young professionals moving away from the profession because they all want to make money as fast as possible. It is also a bit difficult to relate what is being taught in class to what you see on site. More emphasis should be laid on site experiences.
What are the challenges you face on the job and how do you overcome them?
There are times I am assigned a task to complete and I have no idea on how to start so finding the solution becomes a research as Google and YouTube have become my best friends.
What do you love most about your job?
The rich mathematical content and the fact that if the right principles and formulas are applied, absolutely anything is possible.
Was there any incident that changed the course of your life?
Of course yes, I believe my struggles shaped me. Even though my civil engineering course was interesting, it was also challenging. Whenever I hit a bend on the road, I always asked myself if I was very sure that civil engineering was a part of my destiny, yet despite my average results and failures I still stuck by it. Today, I understand just how valuable those challenges were to me because no matter how impossible something looks or how difficult it seems, I cannot even think of giving up. Also I never thought of becoming a civil engineer because of the mathematical content of the course. But the role my teacher played in my primary school and his constant follow up in my secondary school changed the course of my life.
Do you see yourself being in this field in the next five years?
Absolutely, I would definitely try other things along this journey called life but I do not think I would leave the field of civil engineering.
What are your other interests?
I love public speaking, reading and watching movies.
How would you advise people who aspire to achieve more with their lives?
Whatever you strive for in life, do it very well. No matter how unreachable your dreams may seem, miracles do happen when you put in your best.
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