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AECOM project Manager & STEM ambassador Aya Abdulghaffar

AECOM project Manager & STEM ambassador Aya Abdulghaffar

 November 07, 2022

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Meet AECOM Project Manager in Birmingham UK, Aya Abdulghaffar. She's a Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) ambassador.

"We need to nurture an interest in STEM from a young age through better representation within the industry and supporting educators to encourage pupils from all backgrounds,” says Aya who discusses with The Association for Consultancy & Engineering (ACE) making STEM as a career choice attractive to all. 

Sparking interest in engineering from a young age 

"When I started writing this blog about how we can make STEM, and our industry, more attractive I could not distance myself from my own personal journey to get to where I am today. As a female from the Middle East, I kept coming back to the vital encouragement I received as a teenager which helped me understand what I wanted to be," shares Aya. 

"Most young people do not associate STEM subjects with something both practical and fun, often considering it too difficult or boring, and sometimes even ‘nerdy’. However, the lack of these crucial skills within the workforce, as well as a lack of students on courses in STEM at all levels, mean we need to do better at encouraging people to consider these subjects."

Aya's father was her own role model who spent his whole life researching the life-span of airplane engines and its impact on the aviation industry. This sparked an active interest in engineering from a young age. "I was fortunate to have guidance and support from my parents – this isn’t the case for everyone – and it more than made up for the lack of interest from my schools and the education system more generally around my ambitions of pursuing a STEM career," explains Aya. 

Clearing common misconceptions around STEM subjects 

"I firmly believe that by clearing common misconceptions around STEM subjects, and making them even more appealing by demonstrating the positive impact of a related career, it can have a huge impact on young people. Project based learning from educators is a great way of achieving this. By sharing the context of what is taught in school, and demonstrating how it will solve problems for people and society in the future, it can create a palpable sense of purpose and achievement."

Aya explains that there is a need to nurture an interest in STEM from a young age through better representation within the industry and supporting educators to encourage pupils from all backgrounds.

"In both my previous role as a senior technology consultant, and now as a project manager, I make sure that I provide opportunities through shadowing. As a female from an Ethnic Minority, I want to change the perception of STEM subjects. I even take this into my personal life, encouraging conversations around the role of science and its importance to our day-to-day," says Aya . 

Read the article in full. 

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