What better way to celebrate International Day of Women and Girls in Science than to highlight the women working in the Nimbus Research Centre. What all these women have in common is a shared goal to solve problems through researching and developing technology that can combat societal and environmental issues. We sat down with eight extraordinary women in order to find out more about their work, motives and what inspired them to have a career in STEM.
Susan has been working with the Nimbus Centre since 2006, the same year in which she was awarded a PhD in Electronic Engineering by CIT. Susan has been one of the main catalysts behind the success of Nimbus since the beginning and is also an Athena SWAN Champion. Her current research interests focus on the Internet of Things & Cyber-Physical Systems, with specific application in embedded infrastructure management, and network virtualisation for large scale next generation networks. This all aims to enhance the development of smart cities. She has been involved in a number of international and national research projects in the area of energy management. Susan advocates being fearless and authentic. She takes inspiration from one of her favourite quotes and a message she encourages in all young women; “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken”, Oscar Wilde.
Jacqueline has worked in the Nimbus Research Centre for three years. She is a Software Developer and Project Manager in the area of commercialisation projects as well as projects for industry partners. From an early age Jacqueline had an interest in Maths and Science but had exposure to working with computers in Secondary school and fell in love. She decided that she would like to do something in college related to computers and chose a college course which allowed her some flexibility in relation to career choices. In the end software development was her chosen path and proved to be a very fulfilling career.
“I love software engineering it allows you to ask a person what they would like to achieve from their chosen piece of software and then make it a reality for them. The most satisfying part is seeing the result being used by people and usually making their lives a lot easier”.
One of the most important parts of the engineering process is understanding the end user’s needs. This means understanding the person therefore Jacqueline believes we need more women in STEM and particularly software. Software forms part of all of our lives so we should be involved in its design and development.
Deepa has been working in the Nimbus Research Centre for 9 months and is a Senior Software Researcher dealing with Front-End Technologies specifying in User Interface. Her love for STEM comes from her father who is a Physics Professor and her main interests include working with Big Data and Algorithms. What Deepa loves about working with Nimbus is the freedom of choice in relation to what she researches, her original thoughts are valued as well as having the scope to discover new areas of technology. Someone who inspires Deepa is Linda Doyle whose expertise is in the fields of wireless communications, cognitive radio, reconfigurable networks, spectrum management and creative arts practices and who was a key speaker at Beyond IoT 2019.
Sinead has worked with Nimbus for 11 and a half years. Sinead heads the Research and Industry Project and Grant Management for Nimbus. She has a vast knowledge on each project and research being undertaken and ensures the smooth development of these projects. Before Nimbus, Sinead has had an extensive and successful career with MNCs such as Microsoft, where her role revolved around Project Management as well as Technical Customer Support. Sinead is inspired by the women she works with on a day to day basis.
Donna is a Principal Investigator in Intelligence Secure Systems and Lecturer in Computer Science Systems at Cork Institute of Technology. She has been working with Nimbus since 2002 where she completed her MSc. From 2004-2007, Donna completed her PHD followed then by a Post Doctorate.
Donna grew up exposed to technology from her father’s electrical shop in their garage at home. Donna recalls having a fascination with how technology worked and evolved which led her to choose computer science as a career.
Donna suggests “If you want to get into STEM then prepare to work hard but never limit yourself and your potential.”
When asked who inspires her, Donna pays homage not to the scientists but to the people who have worked hard, fought bravely and pushed themselves to their limits. Her main inspirations are her mother Angela for raising the family and holding down the household with strength and her friend Geraldine Sheehey who bravely battled breast cancer until 2013. Donna also shared her awe of anyone who goes back to education and overcomes the extra demands and challenges that come with that decision.
Michelle is a third-year post graduate student based in the Nimbus Research Centre with a background in Multimedia, graduating from CIT in 2015. As part of her research she is looking to explore how the role of Communities of Practice, online technologies and play can support engagement with STEM. Furthermore she will look at how Communities of Practice can enhance a participant’s experience in formal and informal settings. Her main research group will include secondary school STEM students and teachers along with local ‘Coderdojo’ clubs. At the end of her PhD she hopes to have designed and built an online tool which will enhance the communication and collaboration between teachers and students, supporting their engagement with STEM. Her research is funded by the H2020 UNI-Sci-Ed European Project and her PhD supervisors are Trevor Hogan and Kieran Delaney.
Dr Heba Almaleh
Heba has been working with Nimbus for 18 months. She is a Post doc researcher in Energy, Clean Stove, BOSCO, and Boiler Monitoring. Heba has a BA in Mechanical Engineering and an MSC in Renewable engineering from the University of Damascus, Syria. She decided to combine both areas of study into a career that focused on renewable energy and solar heating systems. Heba notes that “Engineering is not a title it’s a lifestyle, every area of STEM is embedded in your life and therefore inspires you to keep researching.” She remembers as a child being curious and driven by the desire to solve problems which led her into studying engineering. When it comes to inspiration Heba looks within herself. She has always been self-driven with the belief that motivation and the results you get from it are like a fisherman out at sea, “you throw out several nets and see what you can catch”. A message she wants to convey to people is never give up. In 2010 she had everything she ever wanted, after five years of the Syrian War she had nothing. When she came to Ireland it was a matter of throwing out those nets and through Nimbus she found a space she could do what she loved and make a difference.
What all these women have in common is their love, passion and drive for what they do, their understanding of the importance of women in STEM as well as their determination to solve problems and make a positive impact on society.