International Women in Engineering Day 2019: Interview with IBioE PhD student Nadira Jamil

Bioengineering enthusiast Nadira grew up in Malaysia, where she studied her undergraduate and Masters degrees in electronics before working for six years in industry with semiconductor companies Texas Instruments and Infineon Technologies.

Through her work in industry, Nadira identified a research opportunity in micro-biological sensors, and made the “life-changing decision” to move to Edinburgh to pursue a PhD in bioengineering.

Nadira will graduate this summer, and since March has been working as an Applications Development Engineer with Communications Test Design Inc (CTDI) in Glenrothes, developing smart home appliances such as TV set-top boxes and modems.

Nadira took part in the following interview to mark International Women in Engineering Day 2019.

Can you explain your PhD research in a nutshell?

My PhD research involved designing flexible microelectrode arrays which can be used in medical devices for monitoring the growth of breast cancer cells in 3D.

This technology has great potential and applications not only in the biomedical field, in areas such as therapeutic drug monitoring, but also in bioprocess technology for example the monitoring microbial fermentation or degradation.

What sparked your interest in engineering? Is it the same thing that inspires you today?

It has always been my dream to make the world a better place through engineering. My father is an engineer, and he has been an inspiration to me since I was a child.

He not only inspired me to study engineering, but always reminds me to “never stop learning”. Following this advice is the reason I am what I am today.

What’s next in your career journey?

In the run-up to leaving University, I applied for more than 30 jobs and attended 10 job interviews! After attending an interview with CTDI’s Technical Director for the role of Applications Development Engineer, I soon felt at home with the company, accepted their job offer and started in March this year.

At CTDI, I develop bespoke software test solutions for consumer products including set-top boxes and modems. The customers I work with include Virgin Media, Vodafone, Sagemcom, Technicolor and many more around the globe. I work in a team of about six engineers who strive to deliver test solutions to meet customer need.

As an independent software testing company, our job includes functional testing to check the product’s functionality through verification and validation; exploratory testing where we investigate other possible uses for the application; and, compatibility testing to trial the product on different platforms and in different situations to ensure a seamless and consistent user experience.

Being the only female in a workplace can be tough, but having supportive colleagues around you is an inspiration. My previous six years’ work experience with Texas Instruments and Infineon Technologies back home in Malaysia, and my PhD experience, has certainly prepared me for the challenge. 

It has not been an easy journey, but certainly a very exciting career path.

What advice do you have for the next generation of women interested in getting into engineering?

Look around you. Besides nature, everything we see involves engineering. Take up the challenge to be a part of transforming the world into a better place for future generations.

Being feminine isn’t an obstacle to this, in fact it helps make us creative engineers for a better world.