As a young girl, I was always interested in mathematics and science. I had a curiosity of how things worked and was habitual of poking my nose deep into encyclopedia books. However, I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. The Columbia shuttle disaster in 2003 was a turning point in my life. We lost a very talented young South Asian astronaut and scientist- Kalpana Chawla. I was too young to understand the gravity of the loss. However, I was curious to know why the space shuttle exploded. I did extensive research for days and then I finally understood what I wanted to do-to make structures safer. Hence, I paved my path from the United Arab Emirates to Toronto, Canada and finally to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida. I immersed myself into learning about the science behind flying and aerospace theory. After 7 years of long nights, lots of red bull and numerous group projects, I completed my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Aerospace Engineering. Unfortunately, I have not gotten an opportunity to work in the aerospace industry full time. I currently work as a structural analyst on construction machinery, which is very interesting in its own way. Not having a job in the aerospace field did not stop me from seeking aerospace activities around me. I attend Astro-Tours talks every first Thursday of the month at the University of Toronto campus in Downtown to learn about current astrophysics research avenues. I started volunteering with Lotus STEMM to find other STEM enthusiasts like myself. I tutor high school and undergraduate students part-time to keep my technical knowledge up to date.
My passion for aerospace and aviation took my husband and me to travel about 800 km south of the border to Washington D.C. this weekend to witness numerous celebrations commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. People came from all over the country to relive the moments before and during the Apollo 11 launch. There were so many activities for kids and adults like Lego building and scavenger hunts around the city. NASA had booths displaying new technology that is going to be implemented in future space missions. There was a re-enactment of the first steps on the moon at the 10.56 p.m. via dropping of a large foot made of balloons onto the ground. It was amazing to see so many space enthusiasts like myself gathered to celebrate this occasion. Although the moon-landing mission started off as a rivalry to the Soviet Union’s technical progress during the Cold War, it has set the path for several space projects signifying human progress. Being part of the celebration helped me relive my college days. I learnt so much through the displays at the Air and Space Museum about the history and future of aerospace. I revisited my curiosity, which got me into aerospace engineering about 16 years ago. I encourage everyone to take some time out of their busy schedule, find activities and pursue your passion. We tend to get so busy in our routine life and forget about treating ourselves to activities that truly bring us joy and a sense of purpose. This weekend away from my routine was a refreshing change and gave me an opportunity to fuel my childhood passion for space.
About the editor:
Dr. Nida Rehmani is the Junior Academy, Global STEM Alliance, NewYork Academy of Sciences. She is the scientific editor for bio-services.org and content editor for Lotus Stories blogs.
Dr. Rehmani completed her B.Sc. & M.Sc. in Biochemistry from Aligarh Muslim University. Her zeal for higher education led her to pursue Ph.D. in molecular biology. Under the auspices of the Obama Singh exchange fellowship, she continued her research in the Department of Radiology, The Ohio State University, USA. During the program, she earned a M.Ed., specialized in STEM higher education.
She is a science communication enthusiast and volunteers for advocating STEM education, especially under-represented communities and minorities. She has a flair for writing & maintains her own personal blog nidarehmani.blogspot.com. She loves cooking and started her own youtube channel: Millenial Recipes. Last but not the least, she is a dedicated mother to an active toddler!
Linkedin: Nida Rehmani