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Freeha Azmat, Senior Teaching Fellow

My early career

I grew up in Pakistan where my family were all teachers or medical doctors but my interests lay more in maths and engineering. It was very difficult, because engineering is seen as a male profession back home, therefore I had to think very carefully about the academic path I chose.

I opted to study for a degree in Information and Communications Systems Engineering. After university I was lucky enough to win a scholarship enabling me to undertake a Master’s in Computer Science at Leicester University. As a single female, I had to work really hard again to convince my family that it was the right decision to allow me to go to the UK to study.

Best Student Award

Other than some family in Cardiff I knew nobody here in the UK. I got my head down, worked hard and received the Best Student award overall on my course and the Best Theoretical/Research Project award for my dissertation. This then paved the way for a PhD at the University of Warwick funded by the Chancellor’s International Scholarship scheme.

This summer (July 2017) my parents flew over from Pakistan to see me graduate. It was such a momentous day for us all. I had to fight so hard to get here, and I’m absolutely thrilled to be able to show everyone how worthwhile it was.

I’m very aware that I’ve done things differently. Whilst studying for my PhD I was an undergraduate lecturer at another local university, before joining WMG just over a year ago. As a Senior Teaching Fellow, I am responsible for delivering the modules in the Applied Engineering Programme (AEP) and the Dyson Engineering Degree. I also lead the Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) stream for the AEP and Dyson degree programmes. As part of TEL, I am also leading a project assessing the 'Impact of using augmented reality/ virtual reality for teaching engineering'.

I love working here at WMG. I’m encouraged to be independent but still supported and encouraged to grow. WMG is expanding rapidly, every day is different and I’m proud to be part of such a thriving department. The sky is the limit and I feel honoured to be surrounded by world-class research groups.

Giving back

I am also involved in Outreach Programmes with the aim being to reach out to youngsters and make engineering fun. I’ve taught maths for Outreach Brilliant Club, a charity that exists to increase the number of pupils from under-represented backgrounds progressing to highly-selective universities. I want to take the knowledge I have learned back to Pakistan one day. The education system there is very different and I’d love to change the way engineering is taught. I feel it’s my responsibility to give something back to my country, I want to encourage other girls to open their hearts to new possibilities, if I can do it then so can they.