As a young Nigerian woman, she threads where men tremble. She has a passion in Engineering with a special focus on renewable energy. She made a Second Class Honours Upper Division from the University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria in her undergraduate studies. She then proceeded to the Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand where she made a First Class in Electrical/Electronic Engineering in her Master’s Degree in the same course. She shared her experiences on her recent feat, her passion for Engineering and what the future holds with Rasheed Adebiyi. Here are the excerpts.
Tekedia : Could you please tell us about yourself?
Ajirioghene Nelly: My name is Nelly. I recently completed my master’s program at Auckland Unversity of Technology (AUT), New Zealand. I majored in Renewable Energy. I am a 2019 New Zealand Development Scholar. Before my studies at AUT, I had my bachelor’s degree at the University of Port Harcourt. I am passionate about the modern-day implementation of renewable energy across diverse disciplines and the current development of carbon reduction in the environment.
Tekedia: As a woman, what has it looked like pursuing a degree in a largely perceived male dominated profession in Engineering?
Ajirioghene Nelly : Engineering is indeed a male-dominated profession. Attending classes during university days, both in Nigeria and New Zealand, I found a small percentage of girls in every class, hardly ever up to 10%. It’s no doubt that the world is encouraging women in STEM. I think there is some kind of perception towards this profession and the efforts towards inspiring women to join the profession are flawed. For a profession so diverse with several challenges, I find it very interesting. I love it when I can solve problems and because of its diversity, I get to learn something new every day.
Tekedia: Securing a first class in the master’s programme should mean a lot to you. What exactly does it mean for you?
Ajirioghene Nelly: Achieving a first class honours means I can do more than I give myself credit for. It means I can accomplish anything I set my mind to do. From my numerous scholarship applications up until my studies at AUT, though challenging, I look back now thinking about the effort I put in and it was so worth it.
Tekedia: Studying in a foreign land times not an easy task for a lot of people. What were your experiences like?
Ajirioghene Nelly : Going to a foreign land was no easy feat at all. Culture shock is the norm for foreigners when they first arrive. It was no different for me when I arrived in New Zealand. Seeing an environment that doesn’t come close to anything I was used to. The Kiwis (New Zealanders) will always smile at you, a friendly bunch but most importantly, they go about their activities, minding their business. A reserved lifestyle that can seem very boring. The student support system at AUT was everything. They had workshops for international students dealing with study stress and culture shock. Even more so, I had my friends who were practically my family and they made New Zealand a home away from home.
Tekedia: What could you say about the educational system in Nigeria and New Zealand? What is your assessment?
Ajirioghene Nelly: The truth is Nigeria has a long way to go and I do hope we get there someday. The reason I was so passionate about attending a world-class university is because of the educational system in Nigeria. As an undergraduate, I knew little or nothing about the practical aspect of Electrical Engineering and as you know Engineering, in general, require a hands-on approach. The environment of most universities in Nigeria especially the public ones do not facilitate learning. My study in New Zealand exposed me to so many software tools; students worked in labs with each student to a computer. Unlike my undergraduate study in Nigeria, I took four courses per semester at AUT and the coursework was very demanding. You will think it’s not a rigorous process because as a full-time student in a Nigerian university, you’d probably be taking up to eight courses, if not more. I found each course that was taught in AUT to be very detailed.
Tekedia: Thank you for your time.
Ajirioghene Nelly: It is my pleasure