Women in Engineering: An Interview With Gisele Azimi

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It’s no secret: Engineering is not just a man’s world. Perceptions – along with demographics - are shifting, and Wiley is proud to be part of the movement to raise the profile of women in engineering, to inspire future generations.

Here, we celebrate engineering researchers in a collection of interviews with authors, editors, editorial board members, and society contacts. In this interview, we meet Dr. Gisele Azimi, Associate Editor of The Canadian Journal of Chemical Engineering 

How or why did you choose engineering as a career path/area of study?
Since a young age, I was fascinated with technology and science, particularly math and chemistry, and I was in love with teaching, so I knew being a Professor in Engineering is my path and I am extremely glad about my decision.

What inspires you about Engineering? Solving real-world problems, tech, and science
Engineers think critically; they have true visions; they are at the forefront of science and technology, and they solve real-world problems.

What challenges do women face in the Engineering professions/academia?
Historically, Engineering was a male-dominated field, but it has been changed in many countries. I do not see any challenge in my workplace and the society in Canada is very protective of minorities including women.

What is the ratio of female to male in your workplace/faculty?
In the Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry department at the University of Toronto, more than 40% of faculty members are women.

What is the most exciting thing about your job?
The most exciting things about my job are: teaching the next generation of engineers, being a role model for young female students, training and mentoring my graduate students in solving real-world problems in collaboration with my industrial sponsors.

What does a typical day in your job involve?
My day involves teaching, research, and service. I teach for one-two hours to a class of 100 students; discuss research and publications with my graduate students; interact with my industrial sponsors to understand and solve their challenges; and provide service to my community including my departments, Faculty, engineering society, leadership, mentoring, and editorial activities.

What kind of impact would bring you great satisfaction in your work?
In terms of teaching and education, helping my students think big and out-of-the-box and be well-rounded individuals; in terms of research, knowing that we solve problems that society faces today.

What are your hopes for the future of Engineering?
My hope is that: “through innovations and mentorship, we can improve the quality of life through eradication of poverty, improved health care, and improved supply of water, food, and energy while maintaining the sustainability of mankind's activities by minimizing their impacts on the environment”. In my group at the Laboratory for Strategic Materials, we strive for achieving a sustainable future and mitigating the adverse effects of urban waste through the development of next-generation batteries technologies made of aluminium, which is abundant, safe, cost-effective, and offers high gravimetric and volumetric capacities. We also investigate advanced recycling and urban mining of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) utilizing innovative recycling processes.

What would you say to girls in school/college who may be considering Engineering as a career choice/study option?
I would tell them “Come and join the team of engineers; conquer the world, while having fun. Tomorrow is yours and the sky is the limit. So dream as big as you can”