By Ghada Elkeissi
Early this year, AUS SWE was recognized as an official international affiliate of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) at American University in Sharjah (AUS) in the United Arab Emirates. It is a great honor to become part of SWE.
With energized, and talented female students in the School of Engineering, we were able to host multiple events during the Spring 2018 semester. I met Anushka Jayasankar, a chemical engineering student and currently the AUS president for SWE. We started planning our mission, and how it will contribute to empowering female students in the university.
On March 1, we hosted an international hub for the Google Hash Code event. More than 50 students, both male and female, participated in trying to solve a Google problem. The female participation was almost 25% of the total number of participants. Students gathered at 8:30 PM at AUS lab and collectively worked to win the competition. It was so much fun, and the adrenaline was high!
On March 20, we kicked off the Speaker Series Event. I was invited as the first speaker, talking about Women In STEM. It was a privilege to meet Dr. Richard Schoephoerster, Dean of School of Engineering, and give a brief talk about empowering women and supporting them as they grow their careers in the region as well as how AUS, corporations and the whole ecosystem play a critical role! It was great having male students attend, showing that women's empowerment and diversity are part of an inclusive journey that cannot happen without the support of men! It was also important to discuss that diversity is not only about women, but it's also about giving an equal opportunity for every human being to practice his or her talents and grow! I'm definitely looking forward to more speaker series sessions in the near future! Special thanks to the board and all the talented AUS ladies for making it happen. I'm grateful to also have a few professors who also made time to attend the session.
On April 5, we had our second Speaker Series Event. "An AUS Alumini Journey from Engineering Major to Building a Career" was the theme of the session. It featured three General Electric (GE) engineers: Afreena Rahman, Shaheen Khoja, and Mohammad Anwar. They shared their experiences including how they picked STEM and how they transitioned to work life. They also highlighted how AUS helped to lay the foundation of core skills that are needed in the market.
We discussed what it is like to be a woman engineer in the workplace and how companies like GE are focused on diversity and inclusion throughout its various organizations and corporate programs. Students were interested to learn that even though GPA is key, it's important to also gain skills through opportunities the university offers such as hackathons, science competitions, conferences, publications, networking etc. These experiences can enrich the learning journey and facilitate finding future jobs. We also talked about how learning never stops as technology keeps evolving and individuals need to keep reinventing themselves!
Last but not least, now we are planning to kick off an outreach program. We will go to schools in Dubai and Sharjah to work with students and encourage more females to consider STEM majors. Science competitions for grades 5-8 and 9-12 are currently being prepared by the SWE AUS board. We will also secure the participation of amazing professional ladies who are welling to support this great cause within the region!
Stay tuned for more events, and activities within UAE. Please follow AUS SWE activities on instagram #aus.awe