Girls pursue future in engineering
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.