Miss Nooshin Ghavami is currently a first year PhD student in the department of Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering, working within the field of cancer imaging. Her work is focused on using computer algorithms and feature extractions to be able to differentiate regions of prostate cancer from non-cancerous tissue on MR images. Nooshin’s main reason for becoming a STEM ambassador is to be able to get young students more interested in science and engineering and to show them that a scientist or engineer can be anyone from any background. Showing them the range of jobs and opportunities which exist related to STEM subjects and making them more confident and passionate about science is very important.
How did you decide to study in your chosen field?
For my undergraduate I studied biomedical engineering and the reason for this was that I initially wanted to study Medicine but realised that I was still very interested in maths and the medical part of physics and so found this degree to be the perfect combination between these. After my degree I knew that the branch of biomedical engineering that I found the most interesting was more the healthcare side and being able to work with patients and clinicians aswell as sitting behind the computer and coding. That’s why I chose cancer imaging!
What attracted you to participate in outreach and engagement activities?
I think for me I had a family with a strong engineering background who helped and encouraged me to study engineering but many young students may not know that much about engineering while still at school and may not know about all the different options for degrees they have involving subjects such as maths and physics. I am also very passionate about getting more young girls into engineering and showing them that engineers aren’t boring guys sitting behind a computer or making circuits all day! Also I would like to become a teacher, most probably for secondary school, in the future and so these kind of activities could help me working with younger students.
What are the best things about being a STEM Ambassador?
The fact that you’re more of a closer age to the students than their teachers so you can talk to them and try and get them excited about STEM subjects in a way which is different to what they’re taught at school. Also because you are either still an undergrad student or have recently finished you are still fresh from the whole degree experience and so can have more of an influence on the students on university subjects and what’s it like studying these subjects at the university life. Also speaking to large groups of pupils really helps with my confidence and belief in what I do.
What are the benefits of volunteering as a STEM Ambassador?
The biggest benefit of volunteering is the fact that you might even in the smallest way have a good impact/influence on students and be able to get them excited about science and engineering. I think it’s very important to be able to get more people in engineering, especially girls and change their attitude that engineering is for boys. Being able to show that people from every background become engineers and it’s not only what they might imagine an engineer to be and show them that it’s not ‘nerdy’ or ‘geeky’ to like or be interested in science.
What was the reaction of the young people you worked with?
When I went to one of the primary schools it was amazing to see the reaction of kids as young as 4 while talking to them about what engineering is and what I do as an engineer. They got very excited and many of them raised their hands after the session saying they wanted to be engineers which was very rewarding.
What advice would you give young people wanting to study or work in STEM-related fields?
There are so many different degrees which involve STEM subjects and within engineering itself there is a variety of different options. Don’t be ashamed or shy to talk about STEM subjects with friends or teachers or tell them that you are interested. The days are gone when engineers were the ‘nerds’ of the class…today an engineer does so much more! You can change people’s lives in terms of healthcare and hospitals, drug development, genetics, constructions and much more! It may be a tough subject to study but if you have the passion for it then go for it.