Growing up in Jordan, Lina Qasem remembers she always had a fascination with electronics and especially computers – she tried to fix her family’s computer by herself on several occasions and used to wow her primary school teachers with her elaborate PowerPoint presentations.
Her fascination continued in high school, so when she graduated it was a no-brainer to choose a degree in software engineering. “I found myself really passionate about programming and seeing my code come alive,” she says.
Lina went on to win several competitions in coding and robotics – and started to wonder why she wasn’t seeing more girls like her in the field. Inspired to make a difference, she founded Robofun in Melbourne where she is now based. Robofun is a robotics and coding academy which holds after-school and school-holiday coding and robotics workshops, with a focus on getting more girls into computer science and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths).
“We are very big believers in diversity in technology,” says Lina. “These are male-dominated industries and the best way to solve this is to engage girls in STEAM fields early on. Robofun is unique in providing programs that are tailored to appeal and engage girls in STEAM such as e-sewing and e-cards.”
Coding opens up opportunities
For National Science Week in August 2019, Robofun also ran STEM sessions at Melbourne’s Islamic Museum of Australia with a focus on engaging girls in coding and robotics. “We hope we can reach many kids during the sessions and raise awareness about the importance of STEM education,” says Lina.
Lina says that being a woman in a traditionally male-dominated industry feels empowering – and she sees it as her responsibility to be a role model for other women. “Even if there are obstacles in your path don’t allow them to stop you and keep pursuing your career in STEM because the world needs you and your creative thinking,” she says.
Lina also wants everyone – boys and girls – to know that coding is an increasingly essential skill that can open up opportunities for your future. “Whether a person is an athlete or an artist, loves animals, or wants to explore medicine, coding can create greater career options and job security,” Lina says.
Lina’s study and career pathway:
>> Bachelor Computer Information Systems, The University of Jordan
>> Robotics trainer, Amman Academy
>> Research Assistant, Australian Islamic
>> Mission Managing Director, Robofun
This article originally appears in Careers with STEM: Code 2019.
Author: Gemma Chilton
Gemma is an author and editor and past Managing Editor of Careers with STEM magazine. She has previously worked as Digital Managing Editor at Australian Geographic and a staff writer at Cosmos science magazine.