Story 2023-07-17

Women in Engineering: From Iran to Sweden and beyond

Welcome back to our interview series on Women in Engineering where we take a moment to reflect on the role that women are playing in the automotive industry. This month, we feature Nika Alemahdi, Senior Analysis Engineer Fuels and Oils at Aurobay. Join us as we dive deeper into her journey from Iran all the way to Sweden and beyond.

My path to engineering

I wanted to be a scientist in an engineering field from a very young age. I grew up in a city in the south of Iran with lots of crude oil and natural gas resources. There were old wells that the natural gas was still leaking from and burning all the time. So, since childhood I had this idea that we could somehow use these wasted natural resources in a better way for developing a more sustainable way of living. I should also admit that having three engineer uncles who were kindly answering my endless questions had a significant impact to form my passion for engineering.

My role at Aurobay

Over the past two decades, as someone who entered the field of Manufacturing Engineering 20 years ago, it brings me great joy to Embarking on my engineering career, I specialized in Energy Engineering with a keen focus on sustainable fuels. My journey took me from Iran to Germany, Malaysia, and Singapore; broadening my knowledge and experiences. During my master’s degree in Malaysia, I won an Environmental award of Tsukuba university of Japan and spent 3 months doing research on bio-fuel production there. I pursued a PhD in energy sciences in Sweden - at Lund University, where I worked on developing a novel test method to evaluate the compatibility of sustainable fuels with different engines, and to facilitate a quicker replacement of fossil fuels in existing ships, heavy vehicles, and cars. My thesis was nominated for Agenda 2030 award of Lund university. After my PhD I worked at Lund university continue researching on renewable fuels. In April 2023, I joined Aurobay as I was already aware of the company's work with sustainable fuels. And now I contribute to Aurobay using my expertise, making a meaningful impact in the cleaner transportation field.

Advancements in engineering

Over the years, the engineering field has undergone significant evolution, and one of the most exciting developments is the shift from linear thinking to a more holistic approach. Modern engineering demands a system-oriented mindset to recognize the interconnectivity of various elements. This shift has led to the rise of multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary projects, where different fields collaborate for innovative solutions. Engineers also consider the social and environmental impacts of their work, creating products that are more sustainable and beneficial for the society. This change in the mindset represents a positive transformation in engineering, paving the way for impactful advancements that will shape our world. That is the transformation I am most excited about.

Advice to young girls who are interested in engineering

For young girls considering a career in engineering, it is essential to have options and explore various fields to find their passion. Society should provide an environment where all students are given equal opportunities to try different things and make informed decisions about their education and career paths. Women should approach their engineering work in their unique way and shouldn’t feel compelled to imitate male engineers.
On a final note: be yourself! Conforming to masculine norms is not equated with success in the field.

Nika Alemahdi

Senior Analysis Engineer Fuels and Oils