Girls pur­sue fu­ture in en­gi­neer­ing

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Education Guide -

THE field of Me­chan­i­cal En­gi­neer­ing has of­ten been re­garded as male-dom­i­nated. Even in gen­der-equal coun­tries where women con­tinue mak­ing head­way in pol­i­tics, sci­ence and arts, the in­dus­try still has trou­ble at­tract­ing women to its fold (www.en­gi­neer­ingclicks.com/fe­male­me­chan­i­cal-en­gi­neers/).

But there are ex­cep­tions, and in Malaysia, women have started forg­ing their way into this “mas­cu­line” field.

Tay­lor’s Univer­sity School of En­gi­neer­ing stu­dents Farah Ra­man Da­nial Ra­man Raj, 25 and Me­lanie Yong Ze Siin, 23, are cre­at­ing a new wave of women in en­gi­neer­ing.

Farah Ra­man grad­u­ated in the Bach­e­lor of (Hons) Me­chan­i­cal En­gi­neer­ing at Tay­lor’s and has since joined Con­ti­nen­tal Tyre PJ Malaysia Sdn Bhd as part of its Ex­plore R&D Trainee Pool.

Con­ti­nen­tal re­cruits grad­u­ates hold­ing bach­e­lor’s, Master’s or PhD de­grees from across the world for its trainee pro­gramme that preps them for the tyre di­vi­sion.

Farah’s en­gi­neer­ing classes in Tay­lor’s have about 60 stu­dents in a class – 10 of whom are girls.

“Skills can be learnt,” said Farah, “so that it is a non-issue – you just have to put in time and ef­fort to hone them.

“The chal­lenge (as a woman) in a male-dom­i­nated in­dus­try,” said Farah, “is that you tend to al­ways want to prove your­self right, or that what you are say­ing is tech­ni­cally cor­rect.”

Farah said learn­ing about hu­man be­hav­iour helped her to un­der­stand how to com­mu­ni­cate bet­ter with both men and women.

Third year BEng (Hons) Me­chan­i­cal En­gi­neer­ing stu­dent Yong agreed that the Me­chan­i­cal En­gi­neer­ing course is dom­i­nated by males but this did not stop her from en­joy­ing her stud­ies or ex­tra-cur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties.

“How­ever, it does raise eye­brows when I in­tro­duce my­self as a Me­chan­i­cal En­gi­neer­ing stu­dent.

Yong said gen­der-per­cep­tion has to change, point­ing out that more women sign up for Chem­i­cal En­gi­neer­ing. Farah pointed out that Yong’s batch had more girls com­pared to hers – an in­crease of about 3%.

Yong said fe­male en­gi­neers should come for­ward and en­cour­age school­girls to en­ter the pro­fes­sion.

Farah elab­o­rated that Tay­lor’s has its own stu­dent rac­ing team called the Tay­lor’s Rac­ing Team or TRT for short. TRT had prepped her tech­ni­cally as well as giv­ing her am­ple hands-on ex­pe­ri­ence.

The ob­jec­tive of TRT was to build a car and par­tic­i­pate in lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional races, much like the UK’s For­mula Stu­dent races. She ex­plained that know­ing tech­ni­cal skills – the de­sign­ing, draw­ing and plan­ning – is just one part of the ex­pe­ri­ence; while the pro­duc­tion, as­sem­bling and rac­ing are other cru­cial hands-on ar­eas that need to be de­vel­oped.

Each se­mes­ter, Tay­lor’s En­gi­neer­ing School will or­gan­ise a de­sign com­pe­ti­tion dur­ing the En­gi­neer­ing Fair that is usu­ally held at the end of the se­mes­ter.

In the com­pe­ti­tion, stu­dents will present their works to the in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal judges and will be awarded ac­cord­ingly.

Yong added that project-based learn­ing is cen­tral to ed­u­ca­tion at Tay­lor’s while Farah agreed that project-based learn­ing pre­pared her for her cur­rent pro­fes­sion.

Like Farah, she learnt good de­sign de­ci­sions and in­no­va­tion in TRT and from the se­mes­ter projects since the first year.

Yong said she also learned to be more em­pha­thetic fol­low­ing her in­volve­ment in ser­vice ac­tiv­i­ties which are a part of Tay­lor’s mod­ules.

Farah elab­o­rated that Tay­lor’s ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties helped to mould her into a well-rounded per­son.

“I was a mem­ber of the ‘Tra­disi’ club which gave me the op­por­tu­nity to hone my lead­er­ship skills when I held the po­si­tion of the vice pres­i­dent as well as the global am­bas­sador to in­ter­na­tional stu­dents.

“I de­vel­oped my soft skills from th­ese ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties. It is help­ful in my cur­rent job as I in­ter­act with many Ger­mans.”

Yong was also in­volved in var­i­ous in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tions and con­fer­ences dur­ing her time at Tay­lor’s such as pitch­ing project ideas to in­vestors in Kuwait, be­ing a pan­el­list in Seoul, South Korea, last year, in an en­gi­neer­ing ed­u­ca­tion con­fer­ence and un­der­go­ing ser­vice learn­ing in Hong Kong.

“Th­ese in­ter­na­tional ex­pe­ri­ences taught me much about cul­tural in­tel­li­gence – the abil­ity to work ef­fec­tively in cul­tur­ally di­verse sit­u­a­tions,” she said.

Upon ob­ser­va­tion, Farah’s pas­sion for au­to­mo­tive drove her to choose en­gi­neer­ing, while Yong sees en­gi­neer­ing as shap­ing the world though in­no­va­tion.

At the age of 16, Farah joined a school com­pe­ti­tion on de­sign­ing a minia­ture F1-like car, which ul­ti­mately sealed her de­ci­sion to be­come an en­gi­neer.

For Yong, she chose en­gi­neer­ing as she be­lieves en­gi­neers are pos­i­tive movers and shak­ers of the world. She plans to join the aero­space in­dus­try af­ter grad­u­at­ing in July next year.

■ To find out more about the cour­ses of­fered by Tay­lor’s Univer­sity, e-mail ad­mis­sions@ tay­lors.edu.my, call 03-5629 5000 or log on to www.tay­lors.edu.my.

Farah elab­o­rated that Tay­lor’s has its own stu­dent rac­ing team called the Tay­lor’s Rac­ing Team or TRT for short.

Farah tak­ing the wheel as the lead driver of the team’s cre­ation.

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