May 28, 2014Her job: Spokesperson at the Pakistan Employment Forum in Kuwait
Describe what you do in your current work situation?
As an Electrical Engineer majoring in Communication Systems, we are required to work in Telecommunication vendor companies for radio network planning, radio network optimization, drive testing, benchmarking and modeling. We involve ourselves in the roll-out of mobile technologies for coverage and capacity in a specific region.
Why did you choose engineering?
I was hardly 4 years old when I first lit up a bulb by creating an electrical circuit out of spare wires and batteries at home. My father bought me an encyclopedia called ‘The Universe’ by Astronomer Royal Martin Rees when I was 10. I was sure I wanted to go to NASA then as an Astronaut or Engineer. The same year, the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Australia conducted external exams. I gave the Mathematics exam and scored high. I realized my passion and since then, I worked hard making ‘Physics’ and ‘Mathematics’ my core strengths. I have high scores in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics in all my transcripts. Engineering became an obvious choice consequently.
Where did you go to school and what degree(s) do you have?
I did my schooling in Kuwait because of my father’s job and did my Undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering with majors in Communication Systems from National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) in Pakistan. I am moving to the UK for a postgraduate degree in Engineering.
What do you like best about being an engineer?
Inventing and modeling engineering prototypes.
Which of your career accomplishments are you proudest of?
• My final year project in my Undergraduate degree where I pioneered cryptographic protocols for a financial transaction system based on Smart Card Technology. My project was done in AIS Lab which is a collaborative effort between NUST, Pakistan and KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden.
• I was chosen recently to represent Pakistan on the Entrepreneurship panel of the Harvard University’s prestigious HPAIR Conference.
• I got admitted to the University of Surrey for a postgraduate degree in Microwave Engineering. University of Surrey is the top school for Microwave Engineering studies in the UK. It has built the first ‘5G’ research centre in the world and set the UK at the forefront of mobile technology against competitors like China and USA. I shall leave soon to work on ‘5G’ – the next mobile technology to get commercial in 2020-2021.
What challenges have you met and conquered in your pursuit of an engineering career?
In our Pakistani system of education, students are required to choose between ‘Biology’ and ‘Mathematics’ in high school with other compulsory subjects. As per conventional boundaries set in Pakistan, a boy is meant to take up ’Mathematics’ while a girl must choose ‘Biology’. I crossed the conventional boundaries and opted for a Mathematics class in high school instead of Biology. If by choice, any girl chooses ‘Mathematics’ over ‘Biology’, she is compelled to take up Business courses (Accountings, Finance, Economics, etc) at the University stage. Girls with Mathematics in high school, rarely take up Engineering. My parents let me pursue Engineering despite protests from relatives and taunts from family friends. I passed my high school with the highest grade and a gold medal in pre-engineering. I further enrolled in the top Engineering University in Pakistan, called National University of Sciences and Technology. After I graduated, I applied overseas in the top ranked schools for a postgraduate degree in Microwave and Wireless Design Engineering.
Please tell us a little about your family.
My father has dual degrees, in Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Engineering from Pakistan and Kuwait respectively. He is an employee of Kuwait National Petroleum Company which is the 10th biggest oil company in the world. My mother is a housewife who set high goals for me and worked hard to ensure I achieve my goals. She has a Bachelors degree in Humanities from the University of Karachi and studies at the Islamic Culture Centre in Kuwait currently. I have two brothers. One of them is pursuing an Undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering and the other will pursue Aerospace Engineering.
What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term (10+ years) goals?
My short term goals are to establish myself as an ‘RF Engineer’ in the industry and earn a PhD in Electrical Engineering. My long term goal is to seek experience as a member of the board of directors of any Wireless Systems Company. And with this experience in hand, I wish to chair a Satellite Communications or Telecommunications company of my own in future.
What (or who) had/has the greatest influence on your life choices?
My parents greatly influenced my life choices. My mother always wanted me to be an Engineer. My parents empowered me throughout my tough career. I have also been inspired by many scientists. Valentina Tereshkova inspired me most as a child. She was an Engineer and an Astronaut who has the record of being the first woman in space.
What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in engineering?
I’ll advise them to go on and pursue whatever fascinates them. It is very important to do what you love than to do what others want or expect you to do. Don’t let someone else’s happiness take over your own happiness and choice.
Describe something about your life outside of work: your hobbies, or perhaps a favorite book.
I love reading books and traveling. World History fascinates me. I keep reading books and watching documentaries based on Historical events and people. I keep a record of the historical places and plan to visit all these places as part of my traveling endeavors.