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For Black History Month, we’re celebrating some of our most inspiring civil engineers representing the industry.
When talking about race, it can be easy to fall into the trap of focusing on the negatives. While it’s important to talk about these issues, a major focus of Black History Month is actually on celebrating Black communities, and for ICE, that means our Black civil engineers.
Speaking to some of ICE’s Black members, it’s clear that an aspect that’s important is Black representation. This covers things like having more diverse boards and panels, the lack of which is sometimes blamed on not knowing anyone who fits the bill.
We want to remove the grounds for this excuse by compiling a list of Black engineers working today who we think are doing an amazing job representing the industry and are definitely 'ones to watch' – and they just happen to be Black, too.
The first African woman to be awarded ICE Fellowship, Trudy Morgan is also ICE’s international representative to Sierra Leone, and President of the Sierra Leone Institution, the first female president in its 50-year history.
In 2015, Trudy co-founded the non-profit organisation Sierra Leone Women Engineers.
Chartered civil engineer
Jonathan Fashanu is a London-based civil and structural engineer who founded and is CEO of Dash House Group, a start-up that delivers socially responsible, affordable and environmentally-friendly homes.
Since January 2021, he is also an executive board member of the Association for Black and Minority Ethnic Engineers (AFBE-UK)
Jonathan Fashanu speaking at a Black Lives Matter peaceful protest. Image credit: Jonathan Fashanu/Twitter
Roni Savage has a huge list of accolades to her name. She was awarded Forbes Top 20 Inspirational Women 2021, Natwest Athena Inspirational Woman Award 2018, Black British Business Person of the Year 2018, Precious Awards Entrepreneur of the Year 2018, and Best Business Woman in STEM 2018.
Roni has also made numerous media appearances, including as an expert panellist advising Lord Sugar on the 2019 final of The Apprentice.
One of her career highlights is founding construction firm Jomas Associates in December 2009, where she is managing director.
Ohis Ilalokhoin is a member of two ICE panels, the Standards Panel and the Exemption and Recognition Panel. He’s also a doctoral research scholar at Oxford University, holding a master’s degree in major project management.
He’s currently head of engineering assurance on the Barking Riverside Extension project, which is building a new railway line to extend the rail network in East London.
His experience spans major transport and other engineering projects in Nigeria and in the UK, including as a design consultant on the Tottenham Court Road Station upgrade for Crossrail.
Blessing Danha is an active member of ICE, having served on its council for three years so far. She’s also a member of the ICE Finance and Risk Committee, the ICE Nomination Committee, and the ICE Fairness, Inclusion and Respect Committee, and is no stranger to public speaking.
A senior director at consultants Ankura, Blessing has experience in the design, procurement and delivery of major projects in the public and private sector.
Passionate about supporting the profession, Blessing also volunteers as a mentor for the AFBE-UK.
An associate director at Arup, Fred Mukonowehuro is ICE country representative for Zimbabwe, recently sitting on the panel for the African leg of the 2021 Brunel Lecture Series in this role.
Based in London, he has more than 20 years of experience in delivering major infrastructure projects, including work on Thames Tideway Tunnel, and shares his expertise on the committee of the Major Projects Association.
Ayo Sokale’s day job is as a project manager at the Environment Agency, but it’s her extra-curricular work that makes her stand out.
From being a BBC Bitesize presenter to representing Caversham in Reading as Labour and Cooperative councillor since 2019, Ayo has an infectious passion for civil engineering that landed her an appointment as a President’s Future Leader under ICE Past President Lord Robert Mair.
Joshua Macabuag is a disaster risk engineer who works as a catastrophe modelling consultant at The World Bank, where his work focuses on estimating levels of damage for buildings and other assets and developing economies.
He’s also the engineering manager for the Urban Search and Rescue NGO, SARAID, and is chair of the IStructE’s Earthquake Engineering Field Investigation Team.
In his role at SARAID, Joshua appeared on BBC News in 2021, discussing the Florida condo collapse.
Elsie Twumasi-Mensah is currently senior project manager for High Speed 2 (HS2), project managing the M25 slip roads works.
As a young engineer, the Ghanaian worked on London 2012 Olympics, responsible for the design co-ordination of the Olympic Park and infrastructure.
Hudson Taivo is another HS2 engineer, in the role of senior project engineer responsible for the Calvert, Buckinghamshire, section of the major rail project.
The rail specialist has worked around the UK and overseas, including in Zimbabwe and Australia.
He was awarded fellowship of the ICE in September 2021.
Meshi Taka represents the institution as Fairness, Inclusion and Respect (FIR) lead for ICE North East.
She has more than 15 years of experience, mainly in the water and utilities sector, and in 2019 was recognised for her achievements, featuring in the FT Top 100 Influential Women in Engineering list.
A regular public speaker and panellist, Meshi is committed to supporting diversity, women in engineering, and girls in STEM.
Our third HS2 staffer, Owen Chirwa is a senior project engineer at SENER working on the high-speed rail project.
Owen has more than 20 years’ experience in the industry, and has worked on a number of major projects, including Hinkley Point C, the upgrade of the Eurotunnel terminal and Thames Tideway Tunnel.
He also made the opening remarks for the Africa leg of the Brunel Lecture Series, as ICE country representative for Zambia and Africa.
Georgia Thompson is a civil engineer from Croydon working in the rail and construction industry, currently employed by Tony Gee and Partners.
She is the co-founder of Dversty, a social enterprise that aims to improve diversity in engineering and technology.
In October 2020, she was a STEM Rising Star finalist in the Black British Business Awards for her work to date in the industry.
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