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Q&A with Ahasanun Nessa, Senior Scientist at QA Consultants in celebration of International Women in Engineering Day! 

Ahasanun Nessa photoWe had the wonderful opportunity to interview QA Consultants’ very own Ahasanun Nessa who is our Senior Applied Scientist on her journey of being a woman in engineering.

International Women in Engineering Day is an international awareness campaign to raise the profile of women in engineering and focus attention on the amazing career opportunities available. It celebrates the outstanding achievements of women engineers throughout the world and encourages the growth of women within the engineering sector. We know that engineering continues to be male-dominated, but much effort has been placed in recent years to increase the number of women choosing to enter the field and study engineering.

QA Consultants empowers women to join and lead in the field of engineering.
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At any one time, we are working on dozens of projects including new technologies like mobile computing, cloud computing and social networking.

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Q. Name, job title & area of research/work?

Ahasanun Nessa, Senior Applied Scientist working in cybersecurity of autonomous systems

Q. Why did you choose engineering as a career path/area of study? 

To be honest, I did not have a role model who inspired me to study engineering. None of my female high school friends who excelled in math and science went into engineering in college. Despite this, I decided to pursue engineering. It is because I discovered what engineers do can make the world a better place. They are dedicated to improving the quality of life around the world by addressing many of the world’s biggest concerns and inventing new technologies. After studying engineering, I discovered that it also opened many career opportunities, such as a well-paid professional job, a balance between work and family life, etc.

Q. What inspires you about Engineering? 

A love of math and physics combined with a problem-solving mindset inspired me to become an engineer. I am intrigued by the fact that while solving a problem, I may come up with several solutions, but I must persuade others that my solution is the best. To accomplish this, a series of processes must be undertaken, such as developing the concept, determining objectives and constraints, prototyping, testing, and evaluating. Besides engineering, these processes foster critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, and resilience, which are helpful in everyday life as well. My inspiration was probably also driven by more employment opportunities after graduation.

Q. What challenges do women face in the Engineering professions/academia? 

Whether you are a woman or a man, engineering is a challenging profession. However, women may face more challenges when it comes to balancing their careers, families, and kids, particularly when they move up the career ladder.  In addition, the stereotypes and biases associated with gender are also some of the challenges women face particularly in developing countries when pursuing careers in engineering. 

Q. What is the most exciting thing about your job?   

In my role as a Senior Applied Scientist, my primary responsibilities include analyzing autonomous systems for vulnerabilities and threats, defining the direction for cybersecurity testing, and using machine learning to analyze intrusions and threats. Among my greatest accomplishments is playing a leading role in analyzing the security posture and integrating cybersecurity solutions into the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association (APMA) all-Canadian Project Arrow electric concept vehicle. Protecting road vehicles from cyberattacks is more challenging and important than ever before because of their deep integration of the vehicle with the outside world and their sophisticated capability for performing different functions. The attackers are continuously investigating and exploiting vulnerabilities and inventing new attack techniques. Therefore, there can never be a guarantee of perpetual protection for existing software or system design. The most exciting aspect of my job is constantly learning to deal with new security breaches. Additionally, knowing I am working to protect people’s privacy, lives and assets make me feel happy about my job.

Q. What are your hopes for the future of Engineering? 

It is well known that women are underrepresented in engineering.  I look forward to seeing a more diverse and inclusive engineering profession concerning race, gender, and ethnicity. I also look forward to engineering solutions that make the world a better place and have a positive impact on our well-being. 

Q. What would you say to girls in school/college who may be considering Engineering as a career choice/study option? 

I will tell them if they are problem solvers and dare to take on challenges, engineering could be the right choice for them. Once you begin work, demonstrate your competency by taking responsibility for what you do, meeting deadlines, and enhancing your skills. Furthermore, I want to let them know that diversity is highly appreciated at work. As a female, I have never experienced discrimination or felt less capable and passionate than my male counterparts.


About QA Consultants

If you are an experienced professional or just simply starting out, we provide a meaningful and development-oriented culture to ensure you gain the experience and skill set of tomorrow. We believe that your success is our success! Grow with us. Our employees and management staff are provided with opportunities to continuously develop their knowledge, skills and abilities through on-the-job training and mentoring, formal training programs with accredited certifications and a company tuition reimbursement program.

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