Rafiah Ayandipo is a fourth year undergraduate in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Imperial College London.
Rafiah grew up in Nigeria, a country whose economy is heavily reliant on the oil and gas industry. From a young age she was aware of the global impact of the energy industry and wanted to pursue a degree which would equip her with the knowledge and skills needed to make an impact in that field.
She was drawn to Imperial because she wanted to go to a university where she would be working amongst high achieving individuals.
“I've always loved being a part of an environment where I am constantly challenged. Imperial College provides this environment and is one of the top universities for my course both nationally and globally,” Rafiah said.
One of the things she has enjoyed most about being a member of the Department is the access to leading researchers in their field of study. She also notes the state-of-the-art laboratories and the carbon capture pilot plant – as well as the prestige which comes from her affiliation with the Department.
Rafiah has particularly enjoyed learning about fluid mechanics which is the study of fluid behaviour at rest and in motion, and separation processes, the mass transfer that produces specific product mixtures needed during any manufacturing process.
After graduating, Rafiah is hoping to take on a graduate role in an engineering firm operating in the energy industry, or an associate role in a consulting firm where she will be able to work on projects relevant to the energy industry.
When it comes to supporting Black students in Higher Education, she says that when students have a great undergraduate or postgraduate experience, they will be more likely to stay within academia going on to do PhDs and then become lecturers.
“It is important for students to learn from people who look like them so they feel understood and motivated, like that could be them one day. I can personally say that my friends and I were shocked and extremely proud when we found out a professor for one of our modules in second year was black, this was the only time in our study that we got to learn from someone just like us.
“It’s all cyclical, more black people need to be in positions of authority in the departments to teach and show the next generation that this is possible. We won’t have black people in positions of authority unless the institution invests into the existing talent to become these lecturers and department heads. The playing field is currently uneven, so the department needs to do more to uplift the voices and better support the current members.”