The Canadian Engineering Memorial Foundation (CEMF) is a foundation that offers scholarships to female undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral engineering students across the country.
This year, the foundation awarded five remarkable Engineering undergraduates with scholarships in recognition of their volunteerism, hard work, involvement in the engineering community and leadership.
One of the five recipients was Nadwa Elbardi, a fourth-year civil and engineering management student at McMaster University. I recently interviewed Nadwa to find out more about her passion for engineering and what the future holds for her following her success with CEMF!
What or who influenced you to study engineering?
I have always been intrigued by solving problems. Whether it’s people problems or math problems, or even jigsaw problems. Engineering was a field that offered me the opportunity to practice this every day. I chose civil engineering specifically because it was a field where my work would have a lasting impact on society. It is also a very wide field with many different paths and ways to contribute. I wanted to build bridges to connect communities, design systems to better protect the environment and build buildings to withstand earthquakes. Ultimately, I want to improve the world we live in!
How do you balance your undergraduate studies, extra-curricular involvement in engineering and personal life?
Balance has always been an important aspect to me, and striving to achieve it was my goal. Time management and prioritization is key to achieving that sense of balance. Obviously I can’t do everything, so I allocate time to certain aspects of my life, which helps me focus on the tasks at hand. When there are too many things on the go, then I prioritize my tasks and focus on completing what’s important.
I saw on the McMaster website that you’re one of the co-presidents of the Women in Engineering Society. What are a couple of your favourite things you get to do in this role?
I have been involved with the Women in Engineering Society since my second year, when I was a Civil Engineering Representative. In my third year I joined the executive team and held the position of Secretary. In fourth year I decided to move further up and applied for Co-President.
My favourite memory was having the opportunity to attend the National Conference for Women in Engineering in Montreal. It was a great experience and a chance to meet women in engineering from across Canada. By being involved in this role, I had the opportunity to connect with a lot of other people with different backgrounds. So making those connections and learning to interact with a diverse group of people is what I will take away from this role.
Where did you find the information you needed to choose the engineering route?
The idea of becoming an engineer has always been around me, because my dad was an engineer. But, when I started doing my own research, I found that program brochures and listening to university representatives was the best way of getting information.
What are your plans after you graduate from McMaster?
Graduate school has always been an option, especially because I am in the engineering and management program, so I have the opportunity to complete an accelerated MBA. However, after graduation my main goal is to gain work/industry experience, which will help me decide what to focus on for graduate studies.
What field of engineering do you see yourself choosing your career in?
I don’t have a specific job in mind, but in general I have always been interested in drinking- and waste-water treatment.
If you could give one piece of advice to girls/women aspiring to become an engineer, what would it be?
One piece of advice that was given to me, and that I will pass on, is to never underestimate yourself or your abilities. Always try new things and challenge yourself.