WomEng Kenya: My WomEng Experince
My cousin forwarded me a link to the WomEng website two years ago. I was doing my internship then and happened to be so busy that day so I quickly clicked on the linked, glanced at the homepage and closed it. I remember spotting a navigation list with the different openings and events but I wasn’t exactly sure what I was applying for so I brushed it off and completely forgot about it. Coincidentally, my friend applied for it and was shortlisted. She mentioned it to me as a by the way and I realized I should have been a tad bit more keen in getting all details pertaining the program. Fast forward to last year to the second call for applications. This time round I took my time and even though the application was quite long I made it a point to complete it and answered the wordy essays (which were quite a number) over several days until I had answered the last question. I notified a few other friends and ended up applying together with my four other friends. Fortunately I got an email from a lady called Annette informing me that I had been shortlisted as a delegate in the fellowship but unfortunately none of my friends made the cut.
There were a few formalities were before we could all travel but don’t sweat it, it was nothing hectic. We met in Nairobi CBD then proceeded to Lukenya Getaway along Mombasa road and arrived at 9 am. We quickly signed some documents at the reception, left our luggage at there and thereafter we were escorted to the eatery for a quick breakfast (by ‘quick’ I mean I didn’t finish my tea ‘quick’, actually I hardly ever managed to finish my meals because our breaks were strictly timed and I’m quite the slow eater). We entered a hall which marked the beginning of the first day of serious learning. We were given our challenge which was the task of coming up with a project on wearable technology. They tried their best to shuffle us up into random groups so we constantly found ourselves in groups with people we did not know which helped us interact better. We had several guest speakers address us on issues concerning the engineering profession and more so how to make it as a female engineer, the upside and downside of this profession and we equally had the pleasure of having women who have made huge strides in this industry share with us. We got to take cognizance of the history of WomEng from Naadiya yet another driven woman who happens to be one of the co-founders. I couldn’t help but love her interesting personality. She talked to us about pitching our ideas which we later learnt we were meant to incorporate in our project presentation. A lawyer talked to us about patenting our inventions and the process involved. We had more speakers and more activities followed, but all in all; the programs are never exactly the same over the years so you might not benefit from all the tiny details of one year’s fellowship.
Generally; the program was marked by several activities that led to a lot of soul-searching, positive interactions and creation of awesome relationships. I can relate it to a jolt that zaps your focus back to what really matters in life. The program is quite rigorous with so much to do in such little time hence strictly time bound and every minute is accounted for, so to anyone who wishes to apply, be very time conscious.
I can’t stress just how much I gained from the program. You will never really know how important such a fellowship is until you attend one and realize just how little you actually know about the industry. As women we need to work twice as hard as our male counterparts to be recognized as engineers and more so we need to enlighten each other to be able to make a united impact in the mindset of the society towards female engineers. It was an amazing experience and did I mention how cool engineering ladies are? They’re great company. A huge thank you to Unilever and the entire WomEng team for making the entire program possible, they really outdid themselves. Do take time and apply for the 2016 WomEng program, you won’t regret it.
By Lillian Sudi