Sehar Raza - 3rd Year Electrical and Mechanical Engineering - University of Strathclyde

Issued: Tue, 09 Jun 2020 00:00:00 BST

Why did you decide to become a STEM Ambassador?

At secondary school I was actively involved in a lot of volunteering with younger pupils. This included running a lunch club for pupils in need of a safe and supportive environment; working with pupils with autism; helping first year pupils adjust to secondary school; assisting with the induction days; helping to run primary school sports events and carrying out work experience at a local nursery. I loved every volunteering activity and really hoped to be able to take part in similar activities in university. Becoming a STEM Ambassador presented the perfect opportunity to be able to use my passion, enthusiasm and experience to volunteer for activities that focused on engineering. This was particularly important to me because it would give me the chance to help out at some of the week-long engineering programmes run by Strathclyde which were just like the ones that inspired me to study engineering. I was lucky enough to participate in two of these programmes in secondary and the Strathclyde students who volunteered were so inspiring and incredibly helpful; I was really excited about the possibility of being one of these volunteers too as a STEM Ambassador. 

Which area of STEM are you most passionate about?

I am definitely most passionate about engineering. I have always known that I wanted to be involved in a career that helped people and made a positive difference to people and our planet. By learning about engineering at secondary I realised that the best way to achieve this, while using my love for maths and physics, would be through engineering. Being involved with engineering outreach activities allows me to teach younger people about what engineering actually is, what being an engineering student involves and inspires them towards a future in engineering. 

What is your favourite thing about being a STEM Ambassador?

Being able to inspire and encourage people of all ages towards a career in engineering is one of my favourite things. I love sharing in their enthusiasm to learn more about engineering and even if they decide that engineering is not for them, helping them to realise this takes them one step closer to finding what they are really passionate about.

I also really enjoy taking part in the group activities that last all day or all week. These are particularly fun because they involve encouraging this group of strangers to work together which lets me watch them grow in enthusiasm for solving their challenge, develop key skills (like confidence and problem solving) and eventually finish with something that they are all very proud of.

Describe your favourite or most memorable activity so far:

My most memorable activity so far was being a mentor to a group of 9 S3 girls as part of the University of Strathclyde’s Engineering the Future for Girls Programme. This involved working closely with these girls for a week to complete various engineering activities as part of a group while sharing my experiences as a Strathclyde engineering student. I had the chance to see these girls learn to work together and take advantage of each other’s strength and enthusiasm to complete their activities. I also saw their passion for engineering and studying at university grow as they asked more questions. At the end of the week, I felt very proud of everything the girls had learned and achieved as a team. Many of the girls were also inspired to study engineering which was so important to me as I felt like I had given back to the students who encouraged me to pursue engineering in the two programmes that I took part in. Hearing from parents that I really helped these girls find their passion for going into engineering after school made this activity incredibly rewarding.  

What STEM Ambassador activities do you have planned for the future?

After I come back from a year in Sweden, I hope to get straight back into the outreach work involved with EWB Strathclyde by helping to train new EWB STEM Ambassadors, organising EWB UK outreach activities into schools and continuing to work with Glasgow Community Energy to run solar outreach workshops. I would also like to be involved in another engineering programme at Strathclyde, either through an EWB outreach activity or as a mentor. 

What advice would you give to new STEM Ambassadors?

Be involved in as many activities as you can! As an engineering student, it is easy to get caught up in the stress of your university course so taking part in the outreach activities is not only important to help inspire the next generation of engineers but it also helps to reminds you why you chose to study engineering in the first place.