Aemah Badri, Manufacturing Engineer, Fischer Connectors
BS Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Tech.
I was born and raised in Iraq, a village in northern Iraq, called Alqosh. I moved to the United States in September 2010 where I enrolled at Georgia Tech and earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering. During my studies, I was involved in research and had several internships that broaden my skills tremendously.
I also was a Math, Science and Engineering tutor for fellow students that challenged me to find different teaching techniques to explain different subjects. Besides that, I was a part of different clubs in college having executive roles. All this experience taught be how to work within the team but also take initiative by leading big projects.
One of my passions is learning about how people think as you can expand your own horizons by just listening to others. It is especially helpful when you also speak their language. I speak four: English, Arabic, Assyrian and Turkish, and it gives me a great advantage to communicate and collaborate with people from different backgrounds and understand them better.
In my free time, I enjoy reading books, shopping, listening to music and learning new technical skills as well as new computer software. I strongly believe that the learning process never stops and I am truly fascinated by it as it feels like a constant adventure.
Talk about the culture of your company. What makes it inclusive or supportive of women in engineering and automation?
Respect, Excellence, Collaboration, Longevity, Entrepreneurial Spirit, and Innovation are six values that our company lives by. Respect is my personal number one since it enforces everyone to respect others, their opinions and diverse backgrounds.
Our management is leading the conversation about our company’s efforts around gender diversity. Transparency is important for showing that words are being backed up by actions. We have it within our power to actively create a better Culture for everyone through smart policies and positive work environments. Happy and diverse teams are successful teams. This initiative plays a vital role in supporting women in engineering and their participation in the engineering world.
Fischer Connectors is not a company where you feel left out just because of your gender. I can speak on inclusiveness as I experience it every day with my colleagues. Different perspectives on the problem are much appreciated, and moreover they are being heard and implemented if they serve the purpose. We all see things differently, and it is a huge advantage when it comes to finding the best solution while approaching the problem from different angles. Being a female engineer, I would like to encourage other women to enter this industry with no fear and join the company that appreciates you as a professional with your unique experience and opinion as well as matches your personal values.
What first drew you to engineering and this industry?
Since I was a kid, I always liked being a problem solver. I used to take a defect item, break it down and investigate the source of the problem to make it work. Yes, I went through a lot of failures trying to figure out the solution, but I was always up for a challenge and never gave up. I enjoy challenging problems that require a creative approach.
For example, in the place where I came from, toys were very expensive and my family could not afford them, so most of the time, my siblings and I used to create our own toys. The situation challenged us to think outside the box. It was quite common at the time to attach wheels to a piece of wood and use it to slide down the hill. A few things that I was able to do is give aesthetic features to a piece of wood, attach another piece of wood with wheels, so my sister could join me at the same time, and finally was able to add a braking mechanism to the cart. Those fun activities always encouraged me to think about being an engineer.
Since childhood, my strong belief was that engineers are problem solvers and world developers, and I always wanted to be one of them.
What career advice would you give to your younger self?
When I decided to go to an engineering school, I was criticized that I wouldn’t be a good fit because I am female, and I wouldn’t be able to take good care of my family. People used to say that I am not paying enough attention to my family just because of a lot of time invested in studying.
In all honesty, studying Mechanical Engineering at GA Tech was not an easy decision and wasn’t a smooth journey. Classes were challenging and I barely had any free time to do any extra activities besides taking care of my family and attending some social school gatherings.
Despite all the criticism, I decided to pursue my passion of becoming a professional problem solver. I accepted the challenge and have never questioned my decision. I graduated at the top of the class with the highest honors. All the efforts paid off, and all the personal sacrifices were worth it.
To anybody who is thinking about taking this path, I would say: “Take every small opportunity in life to learn different things, don’t underestimate your capabilities, and consider all barriers that come your way as a signal to make yourself better in the future. Always keep in mind that learning never ends, and that is what makes this journey exciting and fulfilling.”