Computer Science student Liana Ahmed has received Amazon's prestigious bursary that aims to encourage women into STEM careers

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Liana receives the Amazon Women in Innovation Bursary

Liana receives the Amazon Women in Innovation Bursary

 January 15, 2019

Computer Science student Liana Ahmed has received the Amazon Women in Innovation Bursary. Eighteen-year-old Liana studies at the University of Edinburgh and is among six other women in the UK to have been given this fantastic opportunity from Amazon.

“We want to foster the next generation of high-tech superstars in Britain and help people from all walks of life invent for the future. We hope that over time this new scheme will make a big difference to many young women who one day will become future leaders in innovation," says Doug Gurr, UK Country Manager, Amazon.

An early love for computing

Liana's love for anything tech-related started at a very early age, when she started to teach herself computing skills. This helped foster a desire to pursue computing through school and university, regardless of any obstacles.

“I love gadgets and I’ve always been into computers. “I was a bit of a rebel growing up. In primary school we had golden time, and we could do whatever we wanted during that time, but a lot of games websites that I liked were blocked. So I went home and taught myself ways to get around the blocks," said Liana to Edinburgh Evening News.

"From there I started watching and learning from different tech YouTubers. When I was 15 years old the family computer broke, which made doing homework very difficult. My parents were not in a rush to replace it so I withdrew £500 from my savings account and built my own computer."

"From there, I realised that technology is something that I love and wanted to pursue, regardless of the obstacles that stood in my way. I started coding, did computer science in school and started to learn different things and that inspired me to do computer science at university.” 

Encouraging women into STEM careers

Amazon Women in Innovation Bursary aims to encourage women from less advantaged backgrounds to pursue careers in STEM industries, with the overall goal to improve and diversify the gender balance in the workforce. 

Amazon offers funding of between £3,500 and £7,500 per year to one female student to take up a degree relating to high-tech innovation in the UK. In addition to providing financial support the students will be mentored by a female Amazon employee who works in the software space, on careers advice, CV building, and interview training. The students will also have the opportunity to apply for an internship at the local Amazon Development Centre.

The bursary is awarded to six students annually in universities in cities where Amazon have a tech Development Centre, including the University of Edinburgh, King’s College London and Churchill College at the University of Cambridge. All students are on courses that focus on high-tech innovation, including Electronic Engineering, Robotics & Intelligent Systems, and Computer Science.

Giving financial and professional support

The scheme originated in Edinburgh and has been running there for three years.

“We’ve been working with the team at Amazon for two years to bring the bursary scheme to our students, and we’re thrilled that it is extended beyond 2017. Students in the scheme have benefitted hugely, not only from Amazon’s financial support, but also from the opportunity to get experience and mentoring from professionals at the top of their game," says Professor Johanna Moore, Chair of Artificial Intelligence and Head of School of Informatics, Edinburgh University.

“The bursary has helped me tremendously. I’ve been supporting myself financially and having to work long hours, so when I first started studying, I was really struggling. This was really getting in the way of my studies and stopped me from pursing things that I was passionate about," adds Liana. "The bursary enables me to have a better focus on my studies, which is what you need when you’re at university. The mentorship through Amazon is amazing, it has given me the guidance that I lacked before.” 

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