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Samia Mahil - Sudanese

Creative Design And Innovation Instructor At The Emirates School Establishment (ESE) At The Emirates School Establishment (ESE) Government Organisation In The UAE

I am quite pleased that my story has been selected to be among 2022’s inspiring stories in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and to be featured on the WiredUp Africa website. I hope my journey will motivate and inspire young female enthusiasts to pursue their dream jobs in the STEM field they desire most.

My name is Samia Mahil. I am currently a creative design and innovation instructor at the Emirates School Establishment (ESE) in the United Arab Emirates. I have been sponsored by the UAE Golden Visa for creative entrepreneurs and specialised talented skills. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Ajman University (Ajman – UAE) in 2013 and a Master’s of Science in Electrical Engineering from Khalifa University (Abu Dhabi – UAE) in 2019. My career path to this point, although diverse and eclectic, has continuously revolved around the educational aspects in the field of Electrical Engineering – a field that I am particularly passionate about and driven to participate in its advancement and progress. This is all showcased in the professional choices that I have made thus far, as well as the extracurricular activities that I have been taking part in.

Since my early day as a high school student, my most remarkable characteristic has been my curiosity to learn about new topics. My motivation for learning new ideas, combined with my inner desire to reach a degree of excellence in every piece of work I perform, enabled me to acquire significant knowledge on various aspects of engineering and technology, as well as leading me through a unique educational career. As time passed, my enthusiasm for engineering research got more specific, increasing my excitement about going deeper and deeper into my subject of interest to discover new ideas.

I attended Ajman University in the United Arab Emirates for my undergraduate studies and there I went deeper into the vast field of electrical engineering, broadening my background in various design concepts. The Circuit Theory,Analog and Digital Electronics courses were important in order to understand the design of the inside structures of transmitters and receivers. However, the Signals and Systems, Principles of Communication, Satellite Communication and Digital Communication courses were the really significant ones for me, for they enabled me to develop a solid background in communications theory. Furthermore, dealing with the mathematical fundamentals behind the theory of modulation, the AM, FM, PM systems and how they are realised, heightened my enthusiasm for mastering these topics. My graduation design project, entitled “Image registration of watermarked images”, was focused on the image processing domain. The project won the best research award in the Electrical Engineering Department. The project was focused on identifying the attacks on the watermarked MRI medical images through image registration techniques.

Besides theoretical work, I gained practical knowledge in communication engineering through an internship served in the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology during the summer holiday of my fourth semester. My first work experience after graduation was at Ajman University itself. There, I worked as a teaching assistant in the Electrical Engineering Department. Firstly, I did extensive research to understand the strategies of teaching in a university environment. After I grasped the techniques of delivering practical laboratory and tutorial sessions, I started contributing to extracurricular activities, including the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ (IEEE) global photo contest. In this contest, I supervised a group of female students while they illustrated their abilities in modern photography techniques to highlight dominant electrical engineering phenomena. Due to their creativity, the group eventually secured the first place globally. In 2014, I also had the pleasure to supervise and work with two groups of students to participate in the common design project (CDP) category and the software engineering project (SEP) category in the IEEE UAE day event. In the SEP category, the team won the first place in the competition with a project entitled “Visual search algorithm in a video stream”. This experience was extremely valuable to me, since I learned the challenges of university teaching and appreciated what it was like to be a member of the academic staff in the Electrical Engineering Department.

I started my second experience in one of the leading educational technology companies in Dubai as an educational programme manager, where I lead various projects. One of the most remarkable projects was the innovation hub, which is an initiative by the Al Bayt Mitwahid Association and Google. The innovation hub was launched in the Ras Al Khaimah Emirate in February 2015 to promote interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics through robotics, 3D printing, aerospace technologies, electronics, computer coding, programming and green energy, giving educators and students access to advanced learning equipment and instructional modules. The opportunity allowed me to become a leader for different educational communities, including Google Education Group (GEG) and the Little Bits community. In addition, I collaborated with various private and government organisations within Ras Al Khaimah and the Northern Emirates to promote the culture of making, creating and inventing.

For my third experience, I was awarded a full scholarship to join Khalifa University in the United Arab Emirates and complete my MSc in Electrical Engineering. My thesis was focused on developing a novel non-parametric tuning approach to a PID controller in which the parameters of the magnetic levitation system (MLS) are not determined in advance. The initial findings of my thesis were published at the 15th International Workshop on Variable Structure Systems held in Austria. In addition, a paper has been presented at the UAE Undergraduate Research Conference.

In my current position as a creative design and innovation instructor, I work to develop young k-12 female students’ skills to build comprehensive and integrated STREAM(Science, Technology, Engineering, Reading, Art, and Mathematics) projects all the way from ideation to prototyping, following the engineering design process and implementing some of the immersive 21st-century skills. By building these projects, students get the chance to implement their ideas using innovative tools, advanced research methodologies and collective approaches. The projects aim to help young female students contribute to the United Nations sustainability goals; hence, the projects target some of the most challenging problems in today’s rapidly changing world, including mobility, sustainability and energy consumption.

WiredUp had a Q & A session with Samia Mahil

Who is Samia Mahil? What is your background?

  • I would describe myself as a passionate, self-motivated person who tries to constantly develop her appetite for knowledge, creativity and innovation. I am a science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics (STEAM) advocate who tries to accelerate the path of cutting-edge solutions for today’s most challenging problems facing the education world, to create a better future for young generations who currently face and will face an unpredictable future. I consider myself a unique personality – a combination of an introvert and a highly cooperative person whenever needed.

Read more about Samia’s background in the above introduction

What achievements are you most proud of?

  • Being a remarkable engineering student, alumni and faculty member of Ajman University, UAE, where I obtained my BSc degree in Electrical Engineering.

  • Leading the first ever Google-sponsored STEM laboratory in the UAE with a record of highly impactful achievements.

  • Participating and winning in various international and national local STEM-based events.

  • Building a reliable and sustainable network of creative young minds for both genders.

What challenges have you encountered on your journey?

  • There have been multiple challenges on my journey; mostly from people who tried to fight my success and neglect the code of ethics in the work environment. Unfortunately, the challenges I faced to become a model of change in my current STREAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Reading, Art, and Mathematics) field were not from the opposite gender only, but also from female candidates sharing the same knowledge, but exhibiting a harmful and uncollaborative spirit. However, I reached one conclusion from all these challenges – that the rise and fall of any empire starts and ends with the attitude of the people within this empire. So, if you like to rise with your own empire, make sure to have good intentions and reflect those on your way to achieving your dreams. This will ensure the purity of your soul throughout your journey, no matter what type of toxic environment you face.

How have you overcome, or are working to overcome, some of these challenges?

  • I would not say that it is easy to overcome the challenges, as there is no ideal way to do that. I mostly rely on my deep faith in God’s choices for me and try to seek help from the right people; although it took me a while to identify them. I usually make sure not to reveal too much about my personal life choices or my upcoming steps, despite the level of trust I have in the surrounding people. Yet hiding my personal life choices seems to be one of the practices that have helped me evolve on my journey to date.

What is your message to young Africans about STEM?

  • We are living in a very challenging environment. Make sure to nourish your roots from the very beginning with humbleness and kindness. Remember, being kind and having a collaborative spirit are not signs of weakness. They are only an indication that you are guiding yourself on the correct path and surrounding yourself with the people you deserve to be with.

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