Selly Saidi is an electrical engineer by profession. She studied B.Eng. in Electrical and Electronics Engineering at Moi University and is currently pursuing an MSc in Electrical and Electronic Engineering at University of Nairobi. When she is not working, she volunteers at Havilla Foundation which works towards providing education to needy kids and carrier mentorship to high school students.
Q: Can you share a little bit about what it is that you do and what a typical day for you is like?
A: I am currently a Data Centre Engineer at Kenya Power. My job entails designing and rolling out of Data Centre projects, planning for and responding to service outages and other problems and management of service contracts in Data Centres and SCADA Control Centres.
A typical day involves checking on Data Centre Infrastructures to ensure that all systems are up and running and generating a report for the same. Supervising of ongoing projects, attending to any breakdowns that may occur and allocating duties and resources to other staff.
Q: Did you always know that working in engineering was what you wanted to do? How did you decide to go into Electrical and electronics Engineering? What inspired you?
Q: Growing up I aspired to be a doctor as that was what my dad nurtured me to pursue but in high school I was drawn towards math and physics. At some point in high school my physics teacher, Mr. Tirop introduced us to the field of engineering and I was intrigued by the concept of providing solutions to engineering problems, so I ultimately decided to pursue Electrical Engineering.
Q: I don’t think it’s any secret that many women in STEM have felt their gender has affected the way that they are perceived and/or treated. Have you ever been in a situation like that? How did you handle it?
A: The nature of my job involves responding to service outages during the night and weekends and travelling to remote areas. So most of the time I am usually bypassed and the jobs allocated to my male counterparts. For the most part I have to assure my supervisor that I am capable of responding to night time outages and that I am okay with travelling to remote repeater site and that I can handle challenges that come with my job. It is a bummer but I have to continually prove that I am equally capable of executing my duties as well as my male counterparts.
Q: What is your take on the number of women in engineering? Why do you think that’s the case? What do you think can be done to change that?
A: The numbers are definitely more now than when I was pursuing my B Eng. but I think we can do better as the percentage of female students pursuing STEM is still less as compared to male students. I think the girl child is being empowered more now and they are not afraid to pursue carriers in STEM. Through mentorship programs by practicing female engineers, girls in primary and high school can be given information about field of engineering and encouraged to pursue engineering. Misconceptions that they may have can be demystified and by interacting with women already in those fields will definitely make them see that it is possible to pursue carriers in engineering and excel at it.
Q: How would you explain your Engineering field to young girls?
A: Electrical engineering is a field in which people invent, create, improve and fix electronic devices, tools and equipment. Electrical engineers use lots of math, science and research to develop all kinds of small and large devices and the electrical circuits that help them run.
Q: What message would you give to young girls to inspire them to pursue Engineering?
A: I would encourage them not to subscribe to the perception that courses in Engineering or STEM in general are hard, like everything in life nothing comes easy you have to put effort to achieve results. If you aspire to pursue a career in engineering, then by all means go for it just believe in yourself. You can do it! Trust me the journey won’t be easy, there are going to be sleepless nights as you try to finish assignments and projects but at the end of it all your effort will not be in vain. We are here to support and encourage you through the journey.