Queen Mary Alumni

International Women in Engineering Day 2019: Zakiyyah Auchoybur

In celebration of International Women in Engineering Day on Sunday 23 June 2019, we spoke to alumnae who are now working in the Engineering field.

Zakiyyah Auchoybur
(Biomedical Engineering with Industrial Experience BEng, 2018)

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What did you study at Queen Mary and what are you doing now?
I graduated in Biomedical Engineering last July. I have been working as a Junior Engineer for Natec Medical, a company that designs and manufactures catheters used in angioplasty procedures for about 7 months now.

What sparked your interest in Engineering?
I think I was infatuated with the idea that you could couple technology with your own creativity to solve any problem at hand. I knew I had made the right decision in studying engineering when one of my first coursework assignments was to design a shuttle that would zip-line an egg down a couple of floors without cracking it on impact.

How did your time and study at Queen Mary help your career and development?
We used to scoff at the Transferable Skills for Engineers module in our first year, but it was actually my first time being taught to write a good CV and answer interview questions, and now I'm glad that it was a compulsory module. I feel that Queen Mary and the School of Engineering and Materials Sciences prepared us well for a graduate job with internship and volunteering opportunities. Careers and Enterprise also really helped me work my nerves off before every interview.

Tell us about your first job after graduation and how did you utilise the learning from your time at Queen Mary?
Some of the projects that I worked on during my degree ended up being extremely relevant to my line of work now. Human physiology, materials and mechanics are topics that I encounter every day at work. My course at Queen Mary gave me a broad overview on all of these, and I feel that it helps me grasp my work quicker. Besides, having been on an industrial placement during my final year at Queen Mary, stepping into a graduate role wasn’t as daunting.  

What advice would you offer to current students who themselves are aspiring engineers?
I see a lot of engineers so focused on being technically competent that they forget to learn to stay organised or interact with people. Engineering is way more than just the technical aspect. Practice team sports, make friends, read fiction, visit museums, travel, learn a new language.

Why is it exciting to do what you do?
Engineering and the medical devices field are dynamic work environments. There’s always new things to learn and new challenges to tackle. I also get to help create life-saving products that are being used all over the world, which makes the work meaningful.

What are your thoughts on diversity in engineering and do you feel change is needed?
Like any other STEM career, engineering is overwhelmingly male-dominated still. I think a lot of women are put off by the idea that going into engineering could feel like stepping into a boy’s club and that they have poorer chances of being employed or becoming managers. It’s important to first acknowledge that there is a gender-bias. It’s also essential to promote successful female engineers, especially of different ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds. 

As a woman working in engineering, do you have any role-models that you look up to, both inside and outside of your field?

Debbie Sterling is a brilliant engineer and entrepreneur. I also look up to Michelle Obama, Emma Watson and Lily Singh.