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Professional Spotlight: Engr. Sola Abejide of Powerfields Engineering

Engr. Abejide is the Lead Engineer for Powerfields Engineering Limited. A company established in 2006 by a group of investors with solid backgrounds in engineering and finance; and an intent on creating a reliable, world class service company capable of meeting up to international standards. The company’s primary focus is on the building industry but it has also worked on projects within the Oil and Gas industry.

FFE.ng spoke with the Engineer about the construction industry, the importance of technology in the industry, and some of the major projects the company is currently working on – the conversation is detailed below. Enjoy the read. FFE.ng: Thank you for taking the time to chat to us.

SA: It’s a pleasure and thank you for being here.

FFE.ng: Firstly, why the name ‘Powerfields Engineering’?

SA: I named the company based on what the company is about and how it relates to this environment. I wanted a name where people would have an idea of what we do the moment they heard the name.

FFE.ng: What would you say are the three things that most influence your work?

SA: Professionalism, Competence and Ethical Conduct - In that order. As a professional, you should understand the needs and responsibilities relating to your skills. For Ethical Conduct, there are three major things: Integrity, Engagement and Public Safety. When working on a project, the most important thing is to make sure that the public is safe. Every engineer who is a professional should understand that. Unfortunately, we do not always appreciate that the confidence put in us is to be upheld, both within the jobs that we do and in our other interactions. These are the three major things that influence my work.

FFE: So do you have a Design philosophy for your Engineering Designs? How would you describe it?

SA: We have five words for it. An acronym really: SICOF which stands for Simplicity, Inherent Safety, Compliance, Optimization and Functionality. When we talk of simplicity, often times we as engineers come up with lots of creative ideas, but in the end implementation is necessary. Not all designs are ready for our particular environment. The simpler you make your design; the better for the project. Inherent safety relates to worker safety. We believe that safety has to be engineered in the design. If a design might not be safe, we would need to look at things to be put in place to make it safe.

Compliance has to do with standards and regulations. The statutory codes help make sure we’re doing the right thing.

In the case of optimization, we consider both capital costs and total life cycle cost and develop systems that meet clients’ budgets.

For functionality, our priority is on setting up systems that work and are also suitable to meet clients’ needs.

FFE.ng: What do you think is the most significant technological advancement in the industry and how much of a role does it play in your daily workflow and in the industry in general?

SA: In the case of technology, I would say the most significant advancement is in the variety and capability of available Design Software. Before, everything was manual and you would have to work for hours to get a perfect design, now it is way easier. The turnaround time is shorter and compliance is easier.

One area we need to pay close attention to though, in my opinion, is the tradesmen. As modern technology is continuously being introduced, the more I think they are being left behind. From working with them on site, they still think things should be done the way they were done thirty years ago. Engineers are better off because they belong to associations where they get exposed to more projects and more technologies. That said, the issues relating to tradesmen pose a challenge to engineers as well, as they end up spending a lot of time on training these tradesmen.

FFE.ng: How much of a role does collaboration play in your work? SA: If I take you back to the three things I said influence our work (Professionalism, Competence and Ethical Conduct), you realize that we cannot do without collaboration, considering that we cannot take responsibility for what we are not competent for. As a result, there are those services which are not our core competencies, and as such we relate with other professionals that are experts in those fields. So basically we work together with partners to achieve our goals and produce good results.

FFE.ng: Can you tell us about your most memorable project?

SA: I would say as an engineer, the first project is always the most memorable project. While working with CA Consultants, I worked on a project in Lagos Island, which after going through all the standards and codes and upon visiting the site; there was all this anxiety and nervousness regarding any possible errors in my design. When everything was installed and tested and there were no faults and there was this deep sense of fulfilment. That would be my most memorable project.

As a company (Powerfields Engineering Limited), the most memorable project at a given time would depend on what needs to be showcased. There would be projects memorable based on finances, complexity, excitement and others.

FFE.ng: What advice would you give to up and coming firms and professionals?

SA: Before I go to them, I would say I wish we could have stricter engineering regulations in the country, as that would put everyone in line as to what they should be doing. Incompetency is always an issue, whether in the case of building structures or MEP (Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing). Many projects suffer long after the consultants have gone. In international systems such as the Canadian system, the professional association is self regulating and is backed up by the law. Our system has to ensure that whoever is coming in to practice has both the experience and is fully qualified. The system should also ensure that all engineers are up to date on the current trends in the industry and where professionals are found wanting, they should be held accountable.

FFE.ng: Thank you for your time.

SA: Thank you for having me.

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