Chi Onwurah

Chi Onwurah a telecoms engineer

I want to be a telecoms engineer said Chi Onwurah and tells Jim Al-Khalili why she wanted to become a telecoms engineer and why engineering is a caring profession.

You may listen to this programme NOW on Demand on the BBC Discovery Page which is available until Tuesday the 11th of October. It will also be broadcast on Sunday the 9th of October in Phuket at 8:30 AM on 91.5 FM and 102.5 FM and Online via the Internet radio portals.

As a black, working-class woman from a council estate in Newcastle, she was in the minority of one studying engineering at a university in London and encountered terrible racism and sexism.

She went on to build digital networks all over the world, the networks that make today’s instant multi-media communications possible.

And Chi built the first mobile phone network in Nigeria when the country was without a reliable electricity supply.

Today Chi Onwurah is Shadow Minister for Science, Research and Innovation.

When Chi decided to go into politics, her engineering colleagues were not impressed.

Why would anyone leave their noble profession to enter a chaotic, disreputable and dubiously useful non-profession, they asked.

But, Chi believes, parliament desperately needs more scientists and engineers, not only to help us solve science-based problems but also to create technical jobs and build a strong economy.

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