Iraqi Student Finds Future in NZ and Software Engineering
Wednesday, 27 May 2009
As a young child in Baghdad, Nadin Janan Wadi remembers hearing the windows rattle as the bombs fell during the 1991 US bombardment of that city in the first Gulf War. Today, she’s poised to become one of the first female software engineering graduates at the University of Waikato, and already holds down a part-time job at top Hamilton firm Gallaghers.
(via University of Waikato) “When I started my degree I had no idea about software engineering,” says Iraqi-born Wadi, who’s completing her honours project. “I just knew how to check emails and search on Google, and that was all.”
Wadi’s family arrived in Hamilton in early 2004; eighteen months later, she enrolled in Waikato University’s elite software engineering degree.
“Both my father and older brother are mechanical engineers, but software engineering appealed to me as an opportunity to learn something about computers.”
It was a challenge, and initially Wadi found it hard adjusting to a totally new, male-dominated subject in a new country. “At the beginning I had no idea how to find friends or do the assignments, while everyone else seemed to manage really well.”
But she found she enjoyed the maths, and gradually found her feet socially. “My friends tell me I’m nothing like a typical computer science student – I think that’s really good!”
According to Professor Steve Reeves, Associate Dean for Software Engineering. “Increasingly, today’s software industry requires people with both technical expertise and social skills – and Nadin has both in abundance.”
The Waikato Bachelor of Engineering (Software Engineering) degree has provisional accreditation by IPENZ, the Institute of Professional Engineers of New Zealand, and is designed for undergraduates with advanced skills in their sights.
As part of the degree, BE students must complete 800 hours of paid work experience – which was a big draw for Wadi, who spent last summer at the Gallagher Group adding enhancements and new features to software testing tools for the company’s innovative Cardax entry control system.
“I learned so much during the placement,” she says. “Plus, when you go for a job, the first thing they ask about is your work experience.”
The placement has led on to a part-time job with Gallaghers where Wadi is developing a new automated testing tool, and she’s hopeful there’ll be further work for her there once she completes her honours year.
“What I really like about software engineering is that there are many ways to write a program. You really have to think about how you might solve a given programming problem, then choose the most appealing solution. And the really cool thing is that at the end you have something that works and that makes people’s lives easier.”