My name is Rahima Ahmed and I am currently working as a BIM Technician in Punch Consulting Engineers. BIM stands for Building Information Modelling. Technicians produce accurate representations of structures and functionality of the project using specialist technology. I love cooking and walking. When I was in secondary school, I enjoyed art and football.
What was your journey to your current career?
I was born in Kenya and then I moved to Hungry. I studied language for one year in Hungry and then my parents and I moved to Ireland in 2015. I was 18 when I came to Ireland and I had not studied because I was always moving. I started in Youth Reach as it gave me an opportunity to complete both Fifth and Sixth year. All of the subjects were new to me. My parents wanted me to study medicine because I come from a family in which everyone became a doctor, nurse, or midwife but I never enjoyed biology. I love numbers which were one of the main reasons I chose engineering. I was unsure if I could become an engineer, I had no role models to look up to.
I decided to focus on my strengths. I am good at maths, physics, and chemistry so I pursued a career in engineering. At first, I wanted to become a petroleum engineer but that is only available in countries that produce petrol so instead went with civil engineering. I applied for a level 7 course at Limerick IT. We covered so many subjects including maths, I.T., drafting and landscaping to name a few.
In 2017 I joined Engineers Ireland Thomond Region and became a committee member. From this, I became even more interested in Civil Engineering. I attended many events and meetings which gave me the opportunity to meet so many successful engineers who were part of the committee or even just people who come to give talks or people who come to the events and that has really helped me because every time I go to an event I meet directors or senior engineers they all thought me new things. I gained so much from networking with these people. I also gained role models who motivated me and gave me direction in my career.
In college, I got involved with a lot of engineering groups and societies. I would highly recommend people get involved with these opportunities when they are in college. I benefitted so much from these activities. I got a chance to meet so many great people and work on some really cool projects. It was also great for my C.V. which definitely helped make me stand out when I applied for jobs.
After I graduated, I joined Punch Consulting Engineers. College prepared me for the work environment but even now I am still learning every single day. To become an engineer, you have to be willing to continue to learn and ask questions.
What is your average day like?
Currently, like many others, I am working from home. As a BIM technician, I use AutoCAD and Civil 3D to draw. I do a lot of drawing at the moment. As a Civil Engineer, I draw everything from drainage and water pipes to road levels and landscapes. Every four months or so I will conduct site visits but most of my job takes place on a screen as I decided to pursue the technical side of Civil Engineering.
What attracted you to engineering?
When I was younger, I used to love breaking things to see how they worked inside. I was always interested in learning and exploring the objects around me. I also enjoyed watching construction programs on television that showed a building being made from the ground up, I always knew that I wanted to be involved in that process. That also really motivated me. For me, coming from a family pushing me toward biology I felt as if I always had to prove myself and demonstrate that I was good enough to become an engineer. Many people didn’t believe that I could become an engineer because it is traditionally viewed as a male-dominated sector, but I knew that if I was passionate enough and I put my mind to it that I could follow my dreams. There were lots of challenges along the way such as being the only girl in my class in college, but these things motivated me more and I am so happy in my role now. I joined Engineers Ireland to show girls who are aspiring to become an engineer that it is very possible, and I hope that I can be a role model for others and attract more people to pursue engineering.
What would you say to those who are apprehensive to pursue a career in engineering?
I would encourage anyone who is interested in maths and numbers to consider a career in engineering. I learned that if you are passionate and dedicated enough you can always achieve your goals. For me, I was so motivated by my passion that I gave my all to become an engineer. When something is your passion it doesn’t feel like hard work. Not every day will be perfect no matter what career you chose but if you enjoy 4 out of the 5 days a week as I do, you will be happy to get out of bed each morning and sit down to work. When you are passionate about something not only does it become easier but also less stressful and that is very important to enjoying life.
I also learned that you should never pursue a career for anyone else. Think about what career will make you happiest because if you don’t enjoy your work life will be very difficult. Also, don’t be worried about choosing the wrong course. I was encouraged to follow my dream knowing that if it didn’t work out you can also try another course. I would recommend to those in school to not limit themselves to one thing. Always keep an open mind as you can change your career at any time once you find your passion.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
I want to be successful. I want to continue to progress and grow. Ideally, I aspire to be two levels above what I am now. In five years’ time, I want to have inspired many other girls to pursue engineering and help reduce the stigma that engineering isn’t for women. Most importantly I want to be happy. I don’t have to be extremely rich or anything I just want to be happy and continue to develop my career.
For more information on Rahima’s journey check out our video interview as part of the #ThisIsSTEM Career Talk Series!