Habiba Lais, Technologist, Tribosonics
Technologist at Tribosonics Ltd.
What does that involve, look like on a day-to-day basis?
On a day-to-day basis, I am involved in meetings as a team, we identify the sensing technology needs of our customers and the practicality of implementation to extract useful data. As each project is bespoke, I research and present ultrasonic concepts which are taken forward to investigate and validate through bench-top testing and resulting in a working prototype for the end-user. By being involved from concept to product, there is a lot of engagement throughout the various teams in the workplace to really strive for technological innovation.
How did you get started working in STEM?
I had an interest in creating from a young age however, I never selected any STEM subjects during my A-Levels. I attended a design exhibition where I met graduates from Made in Brunel. This was where I discovered engineering as an option moving forward and decided to enrol into a foundation in engineering degree at Brunel University London.
What qualifications did you take or gain along the way?
Following my foundation in engineering, I undertook Aerospace Engineering with an industrial placement year. Upon graduating from my Bachelors, I joined the National Structural Integrity Research Centre (NSIRC) and successfully completed an industrial-led PhD in Power Ultrasonics.
Why do you love working in STEM?
What I love the most about STEM is the need to work together to produce multi-disciplinary solutions to today’s problems. By working with people of different backgrounds and learning more about what I don’t know, has elevated my passion for creating to now striving to be an inventor and make the impossible, possible.
What challenges have you faced in your career? And how have you overcome them?
The major challenge I found was during my university years, being from a non-STEM background, I didn’t have the confidence in my capabilities to learn something new. This was a fear which I shared along with my fellow female course mates. Over time, by having a supportive group determined to do well in our studies, we began to change our mindset and believe that we can do what we set our minds to.
What advice would you offer for someone joining the STEM sectors?
Firstly, do your best to grab hold of any networking events. Talking to people in the sectors that you are interested in will really open your mind to the endless routes and possibilities to go forward with. From this, you can start to decide on what sectors and what type of work you want to do as well as what kind of qualifications/experience which will help you secure a job in this field of work. Secondly, life is not all about work, make sure you demonstrate your passions outside of work and don’t be afraid to be yourself, keep yourself accountable to motivate yourself to have a healthy work-life balance that you are proud of and don’t undersell yourself during job applications.
What do we need to do as an industry to attract and keep more women in STEM?
Introducing females in STEM via talks and events and organising interactive events can inspire the younger generation to consider the potential paths in STEM. One key element I feel that can be forgotten during these events is to be clear on what kind of qualification routes are needed to get into a particular sector for example, apprenticeship schemes, A-Levels, this information would be important for specific age groups such as school leavers.
For qualified women currently in STEM that opt out of their career path, I believe from my experience that the key factors that may support a woman continuing in STEM is by having a diverse workplace. Even if the ratio is not 50/50 male/female but having people from different job posts and backgrounds engaged with each other through projects, events and even by desk arrangement; the work culture can be a supporting factor in retaining a job long term. Another aspect is to introduce options in which further education or training can be partaken to help encourage females in STEM to apply for promotions and achieve job satisfaction.