Growing up in Nigeria, adults would quite often pose the question “What do you want to be when you grow up” to young children to get us thinking about our future careers. Common answers were medicine, law, teaching, accounting, engineering and banking.
As we got older, Nigerian and international TV shows and movies gave us a little more insight into what some of these careers entailed. It was quite common to watch treatment administered by medical staff in hospital scenes, legal professionals swapping legal lexicon in courtrooms and teaching scenes in classrooms. However, when I was choosing a career in engineering, I could not relate it with many TV shows or movies.
I remember going to see the Black Panther movie in 2018 with a group of friends who are deeply invested in superhero movies (I am more of a comedy and light hearted movies kinda girl but I went along with the movie choice because FOMO*). To my utmost surprise, I really really really (I would add more, but I’m sure you get it) enjoyed it! It was really a good mix of action, black excellence, engineering (pleasing to my geeky side) and of course good banter and comedy.
I was super excited when I was invited to speak on a panel after a special screening of Black Panther at the 2020 Bradford Science Festival. We talked about the importance of representation and role models and the impact of Black Panther on the movie industry in this regard.
One key point for me was the depiction of Shuri not just as an excellent and innovative engineer, but also a well rounded person with a great sense of humour and camaraderie with her brother. Many times, there is a misconception that innovators have a single focus and must be deficient in other aspects of life.
It was also so exciting to see the various uses of vibranium in transportation, medicine, defence etc. This just goes to show that we can use what we have around us to solve the challenges around us.
We also had a lively discussion on the importance of engineering in changing lives, the impact of Black Panther on expansion of our imaginations and ideation and how we can improve representation. We also share our favourite innovative use of vibranium in the movie. Want to know what my fave? You can watch on YouTube here.
Do you think engineering is well represented in the media? How did media you were surrounded by in your childhood affect your career choice? Please leave a comment, I would love to hear from you!