Graduates from Khalifa University leave with the skills, experience, and expertise to succeed in any field they choose, and one alumna did just that, becoming the first Emirati female to work as a nuclear safety inspector.
Meera Al Mehairi graduated from KU in 2015 with a MSc degree in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Nuclear Engineering.
“I chose Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering as a major when I started at Khalifa University,” said Al Mehairi. “I didn’t know where I would end up, or if I was even sure I wanted to do this course. All I had was a passion for math and science, and a curiosity for the future.
“Course after course, and each semester, I felt happier about the decision I had made,” said Al Mehairi. “I enjoyed every part of the university experience, even the late nights at the lab, the ups and downs of my mood and marks, and the usual morning runs to catch the bus! Indeed, KU taught me the art of discipline and time management, which I will always be grateful for.”
Al Mehairi chose to go into nuclear power after graduation as it was a completely new field to the UAE. When she heard about it, she knew that was the challenge she needed.
“After graduation, I decided to pursue a career in the nuclear field, at the UAE’s regulatory body, the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR),” she continued. “I am the first Emirati female as a nuclear safety inspector, where I conduct inspections that are intended to ensure that the nuclear power plant, including facilities, equipment, and work performance, meet all necessary requirements, and are in compliance with the applicable laws, regulations and any license conditions.”
The nuclear safety inspector role is critical to the safe operation of any plant, and to ensure she continues to build on the skills and knowledge acquired at KU, Al Mehairi gets involved in as many projects as possible at FANR, attends most of the technical trainings provided in-house and internationally, and seeks one-to-one mentoring sessions with her senior colleagues.
“I love how dynamic my job is, as I get to explore different technical areas every mission,” said Al Mehairi. “My senior colleagues told me: ‘You’ll always learn something new.’ And they’re right! However, the job is very challenging as it requires precision, comprehensiveness, and a thorough understanding of the science and technology of the nuclear power plant, with a mindset always concerned with safety.
“It’s a huge responsibility and I was panicking since day one! I used to worry, what if I did something wrong? But all these fears have faded away, as I have great support from my colleagues and management, and all the necessary technical knowledge and soft skills.”
Al Mehairi plans to continue to work on different tasks and projects at FANR to develop her skills but also plans to enrich her knowledge in areas of personal interest like international affairs, diplomacy, psychology, and interfaith dialogue.
Al Mehairi remains an inspiration for alumni and current students, advising everyone to read, think critically, and be mindful. She encourages everyone to read and understand the depth and breadth of different topics and pursue continuous learning.
“I want to volunteer as much as possible. The Special Olympics were by far my favorite and the closest event to my heart, and I am really looking forward to Expo 2020 in Dubai. I also hope to engage with more youth to foster tolerance and coexistence, as I am the Vice President for the Coexistence Lab. There’s a beautiful piece of advice from His Excellency Ahmed Belhoul I would like to share: ‘Always be humble to learn.’”
“I’m in it to break down barriers,” she said. “I’m in it to inspire other girls, women, and people to pursue their dreams fearlessly, and to keep trying, learning, and moving forward until they fulfill their dreams. Thank you Khalifa University, FANR and Youth Council for turning me into the person I am today, and thank you to my mother for teaching me how to break down barriers in the first place.”
News and Features Writer
25 November 2019