4. January 2021

Kristine Buske

I have grown as a mechanical engineer

Sif and Evonne are two women who know what they want. They share a dream of living off creating. And they are both interns at Wila as part of their engineering educations.

Since she was 10 years old, Evonne Johnson Awino knew that she wanted to be an engineer. She has always learned through her fingers. Always been fond of creating something from scratch. And as she says:

– Life begins with engineering

Today, Evonne is 20 years old and she has been living in Denmark since 2018 where she studies at VIA University College in Horsens. In Kenya, where Evonne comes from, the education is very theoretically built so she chose to study in Denmark to learn through her fingers.

When Evonne looked for an internship, she looked for a place with room and space. A search on LinkedIn brought her to Wila and after a phone call, she was invited to a company visit and an interview.

– I really liked that Wila has its own production. In that way, I can see the product of everything I do. And it seemed like a nice place with great colleagues, says Evonne who is shortly done with her 20 weeks internship at Wila.

At Wila, she generates ideas, draws sketches of elements for products and machines and she manages tasks that involve basic calculations.

Growing up with calculations and 3D drawings

Even though Wila already had the honor of getting Evonne on the team in the department of sales and construction, there was after all a seat for yet another engineering intern when 22 years old Sif Rugård Gilby demonstrated drive by calling project manager and sales engineer Knud Lykkegaard. From her internship supervisor, Sif got a long list of companies and Wila appealed to her at once. Among other things, she had the possibility to do calculations and constructions.

With a father who is an engineer, it may have been in the cards that Sif was that way. As a child, she often joined her father at work or closely watched the computer screen when he worked from home and made complicated 3D constructions. She remembers walking at The National Test Centre for windmills in Thy where she looked up on tall windmills that her father assisted in creating. While Sif watched the impressive wingspan, her father explained the underlying thoughts and careful calculations.

– I have always been fascinated by calculations and I considered studying math after high school, but I would rather do something where a finished product is created at last. The best thing about being an intern at Wila is that the production is right beside us. I can draw and construct on the screen, find out how the product is produced and then I can go to the workshop beside me and watch the finished result of what I have assisted in creating. It is cool, says Sif who at Wila has helped creating anything from pressure pipes to elements for larger projects.

– It is awesome to have the possibility to attend so many different projects. Otherwise it would have been boring to go to work, she says smiling.

For Wila, it is important to contribute with ensuring that there will be competent workforce in the future. This goes for blacksmiths and industrial technicians – but also engineers. Therefore, it is always prioritized to welcome interns to the company.

– Interns bring a breath of fresh air and perhaps another approach. Wila can also follow what happens within the subject through the young interns who bring the newest knowledge and theory from schools, says Steen Nordmark who is Wila’s CCO.

Women can also be engineers

Sif and Evonne are two of the few women at Wila. It is general for the engineering profession that there are not many women within the industry. Whenever Evonne tells friends, family and people she meets that she studies engineering, she always gets the response “Engineering is too difficult for a woman”. It does not matter if they live in Kenya, Denmark or elsewhere.

– I am not fond of being put in a box because of my gender. I feel like being downgraded. Therefore, I think it is great that more and more women are getting into engineering in Denmark. The more women, the more we inspire other people and show that women can also be engineers, says Evonne and adds:

– And maybe even make it better for the men, she says laughing.

Sif has never given much consideration into the majority of her fellow students and colleagues at Wila being men. As she expresses it, you quickly become one of the guys. However, she still hopes that more women will join the subject.

– I think it is a shame that some women are scared away from the subject because they fear that they will not fit in. Because I do not experience that at all. I feel like it is important that we get more mixed with men and women at workplaces, so we get more different types in which creates a balance in the working environment, she says. And exactly that every employee feels like they fit in, is of great importance at Wila. That goes no matter age, gender, background and whether you are an intern or head of department.

– We have previously had female engineering interns which has been a success. Whether it is a woman, or a man is secondary as long as the interns is cooperative, ready to learn and contributes with its abilities, says Steen Nordmark.

Diversity provides perspectives

For the English-speaking Evonne, Wila’s open mindedness and flexibility has had a large influence when choosing the right internship for her. She had to call a handful of companies before she found a place who wanted her. They all had the same reply “If you do not speak Danish, we cannot have you”. However, Wila has customers from all over the world and many of the reports are written in English. Therefore, she did not get the same reply here as she did from other companies.

– Our construction department is used to communicating with international customers on a daily basis, so the language is no challenge. Diversity and multiplicity are good, and it can provide new perspectives on our company and our tasks, says Steen Nordmark.

For Evonne, the kindness was of great importance.

– I was so happy that there was finally a place in Denmark where I would fit in with my background and my gender. For this, I highly respect Wila. It is a big advantage for me that it is no obstacle that I primarily speak English while I practice my Danish language skills. My colleagues speak Danish every day and, in that way, I can detect many of the words, says Evonne.

When she, in less than a month, is done with her internship at Wila and goes back to school, she does not doubt what benefit she has derived.

– I have gotten much more open to new ideas and design. I have grown as a mechanical engineer by being here and I feel much more prepared for writing my bachelor’s and finishing my education.

“At Wila A/S, we have a dedicated and skilled staff who perform all tasks with common sense, great professionalism, pride and expertise.”