“We cannot succeed if half of us are held back.” These are the words of an 18 year old Pakistani girl, a human rights and education activist and the youngest-ever Nobel peace prize laureate – Malala Yousafzai. Fifty percent of the world population is women and if they are underrepresented in certain fields, for instance Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), then we have so much talent untapped.And that was, precisely the objective of the event hosted by the Department of Computer Engineering and Informatics at Middlesex University Dubai, on Monday October 12, 2015 – to encourage and inspire our youth, particularly girls in this case, to not only consider careers within the STEM fields but retain them in the talent pool. This event was jointly organized by Cisco, working closely with Luan McArthur Grill, the University Relations Manager Middle east, Africa and Turkey. Middlesex University Dubai has a Net Academy Alliance with Cisco for the last three years and this event is a step towards further strengthening the relationship.
The event was well received and attended by over 110 delegates, comprising students from Dubai College, Winchester School, Cambridge International School, Heriot Watt, AUD, University Of Dubai and Middlesex University Dubai. Ms. Pallavi Ranjan, coordinator for this event and the moderator for the day opened the session with wit and humor, followed by an inauguration/welcome speech by the Director, Middlesex University Dubai, Dr. Cedwyn Fernandes. This was followed by a talk from Dr. Fehmida Hussain, Campus Coordinator, Department of Computer Engineering and Informatics explaining the purpose of the event and what role academia can play in addressing the issue of this gender gap. At this point, Dr. Fehmida also announced that Middlesex University Dubai will contribute through mentorship programmes, scholarships and school outreach. Hereafter, the stage was taken over by the Keynote Speaker, the dynamic, Ms. Meera Kaul, Founder and Chairperson, The Meera Kaul Foundation. Meera gave an inspirational speech and the audience was thoroughly captivated by her talk. This Foundation invests in women and women driven programs to create opportunities for unlocking the potential of women in areas of their expertise, sustainability of their careers, personal growth and stability. We were honored to have Meera amongst us.
Walid Issa, Area Academy Manager, CISCO delivered an interesting and informative session about the significance of Cisco Net Academy. Sally Elwazzan, Partner Account Manager CISCO and Meriam Elouzzani, Product Sales manager CISCO and Dr. Fehmida Hussain led the panel discussion and shared their experiences about the realities of working in STEM fields. Teams of students participated in activity “How can you help make Dubai a smart City”. Students were given opportunities to present their ideas where winners were announced on the basis of innovation, feasibility of idea and presentation. First place was bagged by Dubai College where Middlesex University Students were the second and third runner ups. Furthermore, an excellent workshop on Skill Building and Employability was conducted by Luan McArthur Grill, University Relationship Manager, Middle East, Africa and Turkey. The day concluded with Dr. Fehmida suggesting the way forward and finally group photos.