Interview Assessment 6 - Armstrong Ekpete
My interview with Mr. Ekpete centered on a possible mentorship with him. We discussed his place of work, the Department of Defense, and what the public sector entails. Mostly, the conversation focused on women in engineering and my final product.
First off, Mr. Ekpete agreed to be my mentor, finally ending my mentor search and allowing me to continue on with the program. More importantly, I learned of his connections to SWE, Society of Women Engineers. I am currently in the SWE NEXT program, which is directly towards high school and college students because SWE is made up of professionals in the workplace, not students. Due to Mr. Ekpete being a graduate from UNT, he knows many UNT SWE members and recent graduates involved in engineering. I would love to talk to them and understand their perspective on engineering and how the role of an engineer changes as one ages, specifically how aging as a woman affects the work environment, positions, promotions, and more.
The topic of gender relations in the aerospace world is still open and has quite a lot of distinct areas that I can explore. I mentioned my talk with Corrie Hunt and how she believed that I may be attacked for bias if I do anything about gender inequality because afterall, I am a woman. Mr. Ekpete was quick to remind me that being a woman allowed me insight into the female brain and female experiences, which is essential to the question of gender in the workplace. I think the issue of the “leaky pipeline” still exists and could easily be a problem I could address with something more in depth for my final product such as a full fledged program that focuses on retaining talents young girls to engineering programs. This could include fundraising to have the resources to support local STEM programs, making an instruction guide for school programs, creating petitions for legislative change, or reaching out to university programs.
Most likely, it would be a combination of all of these ideas if I went through with this since final product is a really big deal and requires extensive hours of hard work. Additionally, Mr. Ekpete mentioned the Mars Gen program and their search for female astronauts for the Mars mission. This could be something else I look into.
Another avenue is to continue my original work as planned. Mr. Ekpete mentioned that I could use material testing facilities at Collin, UNT, UTD, or any other colleges, to play with different alloys to see the strength and flexibility of the material. Additionally, I could always use a 3D printer to make models of the designs I propose to see the functionality of it. This could be a really interesting way for me to test my proposal from my original work research. I could tamper with the design and create mini prototypes to see how I can improve and further my space suit. Mr. Ekpete and I discussed this proposal and he believes there is a lot of potential in it and believes it is often an overlooked portion of the Mars mission. This is clearly the technical proposal for my final product.
I cannot wait to explore Mr. Ekpete’s workplace and finally get the experience of having a mentor. The fact that he works for the Department of Defense makes everything even more exciting and promising. This interview made me thoroughly argue my proposals and think it all through because I need to know the specific aspects of my idea in order to successfully explain it to someone else. Most importantly, the interview with Mr. Ekpete cemented my mentorship with him.