An accomplished engineer, historian, educational, and motivational speaker, Brittany Wilkins’ focus is to pave the way for African American women in S.T.E.M. while helping individuals and corporations innovate from within. As a highly sought-after process engineering professional, she has helped corporations in automotive, powder coatings, aerospace, and HVAC develop advanced innovative manufacturing processes.
1.) Tell us a little about yourself.
Hi, my name is Brittany Wilkins. I am a purpose-driven woman who strives to be all that I can in my life, career, and community. My mission in life is to live for a purpose greater than self. As an engineer, I help corporations increase productivity and eliminate waste within their business processes. By calling, I am an educator who teaches Black history not commonly known or taught. Outside of my career and calling my hobbies include traveling, cooking, working out, watching basketball, and mixed martial arts.
2.) Tell us what Letters to My Sisters in Engineering is all about?
Letters to My Sisters in Engineering is about my journey to becoming an engineer. I share my story to inspire the next generation of female scientists and engineers. My book is a testimony that the road to success is not an easy journey, but one can succeed against all odds through strength, tenacity, empowerment, and metamorphous. Letters to My Sisters in Engineering is a guiding light to help the next generation create their own path and engineer humanity forward.
3.) What inspired you to write this book?
First, as an avid reader who consumes lots of books, I asked myself the question why not become an author? I wanted to challenge myself and maximize my potential. Second, what good is my success if I am not reaching back to help others? In the inner-city communities, very few young women of color have positive role models to look up to. I wanted to not only be a role model for young women of color but provide them with a resource that inspires hope they can achieve anything beyond their circumstances. Third, I want to leave a legacy. “If we want to live forever, then we must build for eternity.”
4.) Please share with us about the moment you were told you couldn’t be an engineer and how that affected your resolve to succeed?
My sophomore year of college I was failing all my engineering courses. On the verge of almost dropping out, as a last resort, I sought help from one of my professors whose courses I was failing miserably. My professor explained to me that he spoke with my academic advisor about how I was not going to make it through the program. He talked down to me stating he was not going to hand or give me anything. This was the turning point in my collegiate career. I did not feel I needed to prove anything to my professor but prove to myself that I had what it took to succeed in engineering. I made up my mind that I would stick it out no matter how long it took me to fulfill getting my engineering degree. From that point on, I no longer cried to give up, I cried to keep going.
5.) What is one of the most significant challenges you have faced as an engineer who is both Black and a woman?
The most significant challenge I have faced as a Black woman in engineering is being seen and heard at the table. There have been plenty of times when I have proposed innovative ideas and diverse ways to solve problems, only for my thought leadership to be disregarded. Those same ideas I proposed, were also proposed by my caucasian colleagues whose ideas were taken into consideration and implemented. The challenge many women face working in a male dominant field is having influence. Learning the art of emotional intelligence in understanding (wo)mans motivations is when I begin to make an impact.
6.) What are your dreams and hopes for the future of engineering?
My dream for the future of engineering is to NOT be the only one at the table. It is my hope that more young women will aspire to be bold, defy the odds, and become engineers. I dream of the day we are no longer having conversations about equal pay. Diversity is innovation, corporations need a workforce that looks like and represents America which is a diverse melting pot. We cannot engineer a better world if less than half the population is being represented in the room.
7.) If there was one piece of advice you could give to young girls and young women who are considering a career in engineering, what would it be?
In your life and career never dim your light to make others feel comfortable.
8.) What advice would you offer to Black women who are already engineers and may be dealing with obstacles in their careers?
In my experience, the obstacles that I have faced are when I have tried to have a seat at every table and worked tirelessly to prove my point to individuals who did not care to want to understand my point of view. Not every table is your table. There are so many tables in corporate America; focus on the ones that welcome you. As time management is extremely important, the energy that is being used to fight for equity at a certain table can be shifted toward working on your professional development and leveling up to help you expand your equity where you are. As women, we must stand up for ourselves but choose our battles wisely. Remember your peace is more important than proving your point!
9.) You also have an organization called Historians Connect. Please share your mission with our readers.
Historians Connect is a non-profit organization with the mission to bridge the gap between African American culture and Black History. Historians Connect strives to create a cultural education experience that builds the racial esteem of the communities we are called to serve. With the launch of Historians Connect podcast, The Coin: Black History on the Other Side, we are striving to rewrite the narrative that Black history is more than just about slavery and the civil rights movement.
10.) What would you say is the link between your work as a Black woman engineer and your need to create Historians Connect?
Dr. Ivan Van Sertima once said a great many of our people have no conception of where they come from and where they are going. Reading about the contributions of Blacks in Science gave me a true sense of pride and racial identity. I began to see myself in a different light. “ A people without knowledge of their history is like a tree without roots.” Historians Connect was created to connect African Americans back to their roots that four hundred years of slavery and oppression tried to wipe out. No matter what age, all people of color need to learn the history of the contributions Africans at home and abroad have made to building civilization from ancient to present-day times.
11.) Where can readers buy your books?
Letters to My Sisters in Engineering can be purchased from my website at www.brittanywilkinsspeaks.com, or on Amazon. It can also be purchased Grassrootz Books & Juice Bar and at Charles Collectibles & Books .
12.) Where can we find you on social media?
Connect with me on Twitter – https://twitter.com/BrittanyWilkins
Connect with me on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/brittanywilkinsprojectleader/
13.) Please share your website(s) with our readers.
Audra Russell is a blogger, freelance writer, and published author. She holds two undergraduate degrees in journalism as well as a Master of Science degree in Education. She also completed the Wesleyan University online Creative Writing Specialization course series.
She is an avid reader and writer’s advocate. Her passion for promoting the works of up-and-coming authors inspired her to create her new podcast, Between the Reads, as well as her website, Read It Black to Me. Her debut novel, BLOOD LAND, was published on August 29, 2020, as her fiftieth birthday gift to herself. She lives in Maryland with her husband of more than 20 years, her 3 amazing children, a 12-year-old perpetual puppy, two dueling cats, and 2 chickens.