Not too long ago, we brought you the story of Ngowari Diminas and the platform she founded for Female Engineers around the world. This week, we are back in the engineering field as the Association for Black and Minority Ethnic Engineers (AFBE-UK) celebrates it’s 10th anniversary.
Historically known as the Association for Black Engineers, AFBE-UK was founded at a time when there were community and social concerns around the need for visible role models for young people of ethnic minority origin. Since 2011 AFBE-UK has adopted and been known as the Association for BME Engineers UK and represents all UK ethnic minority engineers.
The current chair of the association is Nike Folayan who is Chartered Electronics Engineer with a doctorate in Electronics engineering. Nike is currently Associate Director and the Technical Discipline Leader for Communications and Control within the Railways Division of WSP, an engineering consultancy where she leads a team of telecommunications engineers working on a variety of projects within the transport industry including railways and the highways projects in the UK, Australia, Middle East and Africa.
The Association for Black and Minority Ethnic Engineers (AFBE-UK) celebrates its 10th year Anniversary with a gala event in London to recognise the impact AFBE-UK has made on the engineering landscape in the last ten years.
AFBE-UK promotes higher achievements in education and engineering careers among people from black and minority ethnicity (BME) backgrounds across the United Kingdom. The organisation promotes diversity through programmes and activities which are led by exceptional professionals in the Engineering industry, and are designed to bring about meaningful change, sustainable growth and a lasting positive impact to the UK. Since its launch in 2007 AFBE-UK’ outreach programmes have reached over 6000 BME individuals across the UK. The Association not only offers networking, mentoring, educational resources and opportunities but it also provides access to jobs across the country.
The UK has a long standing history of engineering achievement and yet BME communities are underrepresented across the sector. The proportion of UK citizens from ethnic minority communities is projected to reach between 20%-30% by 2050 but only 6% of UK engineers are from BME backgrounds, although an average of 25% of engineering university graduates are from BME backgrounds. What makes this issue even more concerning is that the UK engineering sector is currently experiencing a shortage of skilled professionals. It is this level of success and the tangible outcomes achieved which makes the Gala event which will take place in November 2017 so important. The AFBE-UK gala is a premier networking event for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professionals, high achieving students of ethnic minority backgrounds, individuals and organisations promoting STEM careers.
According to Nike Folayan, Chair of AFBE-UK, “The cradle to the grave approach employed by AFBE-UK has seen many young people from secondary schools to graduates from diverse backgrounds, study and secure employment in engineering as a direct result of engaging with AFBE-UK. We want to celebrate these achievements while looking to a future where AFBE-UK continues to bridge the skills gap in the Engineering industry by broadening the talent pool.”
The event will begin with a networking reception where guests will be welcomed to a drinks reception with a variety of multicultural entertainment. The keynote address will be undertaken by Tom Illube ranked No1 in the 2017 Power list of the UK’s most influential Black Britons. Another highlight of the evening will be the public recognition of the winners of the 10th Anniversary AFBE-UK Awards recognising individuals and organisations who are making a significant contribution to the engineering industry. The Awards include; Innovation award, The Company recognition award, The Outstanding mentor award and the Appreciation award.
This event will be a marker for the continued efforts and strides that are being made by the AFBE to make an impact for diversity and inclusion.