Akinyemi “Yemi” Akinsinde, an electrical engineer at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport, was named the winner of the Modern Day Technology LeaderAward, sponsored by U.S. Black Engineer & Information Technology magazine.
Akinsinde, a University of Rhode Island alumnus, talked to Providence Business News about this recognition, his work at NUWC and diversity in the science, technology, engineering and math fields.
PBN: Congratulations on your recognition. How did you feel when you got the news?
AKINSINDE: My first reaction upon receiving the news was gratitude. I was immediately grateful to all the people responsible for getting me to this point in my career. From Adam Macksoud (NUWC’s chief financial officer), who initially struck up a conversation with me at a job fair that led to an internship while I was still in college to my co-workers, mentors, and supervisors. I am truly grateful to all those people who have put me in a position to be successful.
PBN: What do you think it takes to become a Modern Day Technology Leader?
AKINSINDE: I honestly can’t say there are set criteria on being a Modern Day Technology Leader. In my opinion, I think always challenging yourself to do things that wouldn’t regularly fall under your realm of familiarity always open doors to new and unchartered waters. The chances of creating a new path that will be followed far exceed anything else.
PBN: Of all the technology projects you’ve worked on, what has been your favorite and why?
AKINSINDE: As basic as it might sound, my favorite project was my very first project as an intern at NUWC. I had to write a simple C++ program that was used in a tow tank facility. It was my favorite because I got to apply my knowledge from the classroom to an actual project in the real world. There is nothing better and complete when theory and applying the theory merge in a successful way. As an intern, getting to know what that feeling was left me thirsty for more of that feeling of completion.
PBN: You’ve served as NUWC Newport’s African American Special Emphasis Program Manager for two years helping to promote the recruitment, training, and upward mobility of African American employees. Do you think there is enough diversity in the technology and sciences?
AKINSINDE: I think there is room for improvement for diversity in the technology, engineering, mathematics, and science fields in America. I think we need to sink the hook into the belief that there are ways to be very successful in these and other related fields but it has to be done at an early age. Candida Desjardins (the director of educational outreach at NUWC) does a good job at getting young children involved in the mathematics, science and engineering fields at an early age. If more of these outreach activities could be developed and more individuals like Ms. Desjardins were dedicated to getting young children involved nationwide, we would definitely see an increase in diversity.
PBN: As a URI Engineering School alumnus, what advice do you have for current students?
AKINSINDE: The advice I’d give to current students is never give up. I believe myself and a fair amount of men and women in this new generation are often victims of instant gratification. However, the downfall of that mentality is that we tend to give up if the reward of a long days work is not instant. For example, a bad test grade could be the deciding factor in switching to a different major. My advice is to not give up just because things get tough; instead, push on through the hard times and it will lead to better times. There is always light at the end of any tunnel; we just have to make sure we don’t turn around because if we do, we might miss it.