Case Study: Shrouk El-Attar
“That idea of what an engineer looks like is really out of date and it needs to change […] people engineer in their heels, people engineer in their dresses, and for me it’s such a creative field!”
A journey of resilience
Shrouk left her native Egypt at the age of 15, arriving in the UK with her family. She was eventually granted refugee status on the basis of her sexuality, but her mother, sister and brother were deported. Showing remarkable resilience, she enrolled to study electrical engineering at Cardiff University, but could only start to study once her asylum case was complete – which took several years. She believes that more needs to be done to enable asylum seekers to access higher education, and to help people considering engineering as a career:
“We need to produce more than 186,000 engineers every single year, just to meet our engineering shortfall by 2024, and the same time we prevent people from accessing engineering”
Improving the quality of life of others
Since graduating from university, Shrouk has collaborated with others in a variety of projects. She’s designed robots that can measure tiny things just a few nanometers across, and built a machine that can detect cancer cells based on how electrons wobble in the presence of magnetic fields.
Currently, she gets to release her creativity designing and testing products which help improve the quality of life of many women and others across the world. She find engineering to be a very collaborative field:
“You work with other engineers, scientists, data scientists and artists to make your product look nice …”
Changing perceptions of engineering
Shrouk is a passionate advocate for changing perceptions of engineering, as there is still a long way to go in terms of attracting creative people into the sector. She also works towards valuing non-univeristy routes into engineering:
“We need to change our language. We need to make it more accessible, we also need to change the default routes into engineering. Why is just the university route considered? Why can’t we take on more apprentices?”
A passionate advocate
In her free time Shrouk is a belly dancer, and she fundraises to help the LGBTQ community in countries such as Egypt. In 2018 she was awarded Young Woman of the Year in the Women on the Move Awards, from Migrants Organise and the UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency).
Shrouk is featured in an episode of the Inventive Podcast: