Finding Art in Engineering: Erin Akinjide

Erin Akinjide
Erin Akinjide

One of the first challenges Drexel students face as incoming freshmen is adjusting to its fast-paced learning schedule. New students learn to build momentum within ten-week terms, find their own co-ops and participate in clubs and sports. For Erin Akinjide, a graduating senior in mechanical engineering, juggling school with an impressive number of extracurriculars is second nature.

The child of parents who run a construction company in Lagos, Nigeria, Akinjide started out at Drexel as an architectural engineering major. But her first co-op, a position at the Philadelphia Water Department, steered her towards Mechanical Engineering instead.

“I realized that I still wanted an engineering degree to help me understand the science and math behind built systems,” Akinjide said, “but I also wanted more flexibility than I felt architectural engineering provides.”

Outside of courses and co-ops, Akinjide has used Drexel’s resources to develop her artistic skill. She joined the Drexel African Dance Team for a year and learned salsa and bachata. She featured an upcycled jacket collection during the Drexel African Students Association’s fashion show. Akinjide even volunteered at TinyWPA, a Philly nonprofit that serves communities through building playgrounds. Her extracurricular resume also includes membership in the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and the Drexel Badminton Club.

In every endeavor, Akinjide has found life lessons and meaning. “My dancing experiences helped my confidence and presence in a room, my fashion design experiences improved my communication skills [and] helped me learn how to ask the right questions,” she said. “My e-board experience taught me responsibility, time management, and how to relate to people and start conversations. My volunteer experiences allowed me to work towards a goal outside of myself, pick up some basic woodworking skills, and learn more about Philadelphia’s rich history.”

Engineering has taught Akinjide to find importance in the smallest things. While taking an elective in manufacturing principles, she was tasked to create a pen and its cap, first creating 3-D models and then a prototype. The moment of truth: Screwing the cap onto the pen. “Screwing on a cap was something I’d done many times before without too much thought, but after making [it] myself, that simple action had a lot more meaning.”

Akinjide isn’t done learning after graduation. Perhaps taking inspiration from her manufacturing principles class as well as her artistic experience, she’s planning on pursuing a postgrad degree in product design.

“I love picking up new skills which help stimulate my creativity, whether it’s new forms of dance, multimedia art, painting, drawing, fashion design, engineering and anything else I get to do in the future. This degree is the first of many milestones for me.”