In focus: Kirn Akram, Technical Sales Engineer at Laser Lines
To mark this year’s National Women in Engineering Day, we’ve taken some time out with one of our Photonics Group’s Technical Sales Engineers, Kirn Akram, to learn about how she developed a passion for physics and engineering, and how that informed her career in the industry.
As a profession with so few female advocates, we think it’s important to celebrate the great work and successes of those that contribute to the industry now, as well as help to shape its future.
Kirn’s worked in the industry for over nine years. She holds a Masters Degree in Image & X-ray Physics from Kings College and a Bachelors Degree in Physics & Optical Science from Reading University.
LL: What made you first want to work in physics and engineering, Kirn?
KA: The challenge first and foremost! When I studied physics, there was one tutor who really stood out for me. She was the only female tutor in the department and wrote an article on women in physics and engineering; she had a classic red Porsche that she qualified as an output of that work hard, can do attitude to working in this industry. It really stood out for me; I realised it was an industry crying out for women and I liked the appeal of that. No classic red Porsche for me yet but I’m not far off. Maybe a little too young for the classic though!
LL: Who is your greatest inspiration?
KA: Aderil Macdonald, the tutor I mentioned; she made the subject seem very sexy and I suppose became my inspiration. The fact she was a women and succeeding in the world of physics and engineering where so few women were doing the same thing, that had great appeal to me.
LL: What do you most enjoy about this industry?
KA: The new technology and constant innovation is definitely a big draw for me. We do a lot of work n the biotech and biomedicine fields and the research that goes on here to combat things like cancer is something that really interests me. I get a lot of enjoyment out of
LL: Career wise, what’s your biggest ambition?
KA: At some point, way in the future, I’d like to get to the stage where I can buy my own biotech company. It’s always great to have longer term goals!
LL: What one thing would you pinpoint as your biggest highlight to date?
KA: I get to experience so many great things through my role here at Laser Lines. Every day is different. In terms of engineering outside of that, when I was studying for my degree, I went to do some work with NASA. There really is no other organisation on earth that operates in quite the same way and it was fascinating. Not only did I take so much away from the experience but given the NASA profile, it was really difficult to secure, and as a female, it gave me a real sense of pride in having that platform.
LL: What’s the best piece of advice you’d have for girls and women wanting to work in this industry?
KA: Don’t be afraid – I wasn’t the best in my class when studying but don’t be scared or intimidated; if you have a passion for engineering, physics, maths – go for it – the industry needs more women!
Physics and engineering are very male dominated industries and there is the perception that men are more informed than their female counterparts – but because there are so few women, you have the real opportunity to thrive!
The one thing I wish I’d have known before starting out is that it’s a lot of hard work; to be successful, you need to be prepared to put the hours in. If you do that, you can achieve great things.
Find out more about career opportunities at Laser Lines, call our team on 01295 672 500.