Farida against a blue cloudy sky.

Farida Hany AlWakeel

Choosing Leeds

Farida Hany AlWakeel chose to study Medical Engineering MEng, BEng at Leeds. The University of Leeds in particular exceeded all of her expectations, compared to other universities. Farida said “Looking for universities, I had certain criteria in mind—diversity, a welcoming student environment, social life, world-class facilities and teaching and most importantly a strong world-ranked curriculum. Fulfilling all my criteria, the University of Leeds was one of the best decisions I ever made.

The best aspect of my course is the blend between the medical and engineering worlds along with the exposure to different disciplines. Exposure to different disciplines is a key parameter in shaping my career view, as well as, giving me a gander on the other potential sectors on the market. What I love most about my course is the ability to apply engineering principles and design concepts to medicine and biology for healthcare purposes. Aspects of other disciplines, mechanical, electrical, chemical, are all integrated with the human biology in medical engineering to improve human health, whether it be an advanced prosthetic limb or an understanding of the biomechanics of articular cartilage.”

Overcoming fears

For Farida, the thought of moving to a foreign country with a different culture and background and leaving her family and friends was the most daunting when she started university. She said “Despite everything, I was quite excited to take the step. I loved every bit of it. Settling in was hard, getting used to the country, and the people was not an easy step, quite a cultural shock, to say the least, but I thoroughly enjoyed going through it. People I met in Leeds sure made the journey a lot easier than it initially seemed.”

Project work

Since joining the University of Leeds, Farida has been involved in a plethora of projects. She said “Being the undergraduate Mechanical Engineering School Representative for two consecutive years, I had the amazing opportunity to work with faculty heads, course representatives, school reps from all over the faculty, reps from the joined school in Chengdu and most importantly be the voice of undergraduate students. It was and remains to be the role closest to my heart.”

Farida speaking at a Women in STEM conference.

Attendees sat at a Women in STEM conference.

Between 2021/2022 Farida was a school rep, during that time she hosted and organized her very first "Women in STEM Conference". Farida described “The conference featured 5 speakers from the faculty, fully sponsored by the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences and the Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion team and Athena Swan Institution. It was a work in collaboration with the University of Sheffield. The conference was opened by Dr Nora De Leeuw, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences. It was also attended by the Head of the School of Mechanical Engineering, Dr Neil Bressloff, and Dr Ozz Querin, Pro-Dean of the School of Mechanical Engineering, along with module leaders, UG students, school reps and students from the University of Sheffield. Each speaker covered a topic concerning issues faced by women pursuing STEM majors. Topics included encouraging and discouraging work environments, cultural stereotypes, imposter syndrome, and work in the industry. The conference also involved a unique networking session between students and staff.”

This work led to her being awarded the Simon Vickers Award, which goes to the student, undergraduate or postgraduate, who has contributed most to student life in the department during the academic year, as nominated by the students and voted for by the students who are members of the Student Staff Partnership Forum.

Farida sat on Parkinson steps with her Simon Vickers award.

Farida stood with a professor, holding her Simon Vickers award.

In addition, in 2022, Farida joined the Enactus Leeds Society as the Vice President of Engagement. She said “The role entailed maintaining business relations between our business partners and coaches from companies such as HSBC UK, AIG, Enterprise-Rent-A-Car, Unilever, and many more. During my second semester, I became the president of the society. With the help of the amazing committee members of the society, we were able to host on-campus events, GIAG sessions and stalls to further promote our society.”

A group of students from the ENACTUS group.

A group of students from the ENACTUS group.

One of the most fun academic projects she took part in, was building a buggy during my second year. She explained “It was nice to be back in the lab since COVID and to get the opportunity to build and work collaboratively with my colleagues. The building sessions were followed by a competition amongst the whole cohort. It was the first time the whole cohort was all gathered, so it was an unforgettable memory to see everyone again back together to watch the competition, was an amazing way to end a long and tiring semester. The competitions were fun to watch and very gladly my team won 2nd place.”

A buggy made by student in the School of Mechanical Engineering.


New experiences

During the summer of 2022, Farida was able to complete an 8-week summer internship. She described “I had a fantastic chance to work on a research study to help develop a capsule that serves as a lubricating substitute for patients suffering from dry mouth disease (Xerostomia) at the School of Food Science and Nutrition, and the School of Biological Sciences. I conducted a research study on the available lubricants in the market and the current research studies accommodated. I got a chance to prep and test samples of different types of lubricating gels and further test their properties under different temperatures. Overall, this experience helped me gain vital transferable skills of adapting to different work environments, and openly embrace research, and data analysis.”

In addition, “One of the highlights I eagerly anticipate each year is the annual Medical Engineering Event, graciously hosted and organized by Dr. Anthony Herbert. The event provides a delightful opportunity to delve deeper into the field of medical engineering. Driven by student suggestions, the event revolves around various medical engineering topics, with Dr. Herbert inviting speakers who are experts in their respective fields. This evening offers students the valuable chance to hear insights from these experts and gain a deeper understanding of the discipline. It serves as a platform to explore the myriad opportunities available in the field of medical engineering, unveiling diverse avenues for students. The event not only covers a range of interesting topics accompanied by delicious food but also presents an incredible opportunity to network with experts from the field. Without a doubt, it stands out as one of my favourite events throughout the year, and I eagerly anticipate its occurrence."

Life outside the classroom

Outside of her studies, Farida enjoys going to the gym and getting iced coffee with her friends. She said “I also enjoy going for morning walks. Most recently, I took part as a panellist consultant at Q5 Futures Panel in London. I attended insightful sessions as a panellist with students from universities across the UK to discuss insights on potential future trends and the implications on the future of work. It was a brilliant experience in a leading global management consultancy focusing on areas such as AI, ESG and sustainability, business ecosystems and more.”

Farida sat a sat at a Q5 event in London.

Farida in a group shot at the Q5 event in London.

Sage advice

Looking to the future Farida said, “For the time being, my short-term plan is to do a Ph.D., Insha’Allah.”

She added “To anyone thinking of pursuing Medical Engineering, you are on the right track! It is one of the most interesting courses offered by the university. This course is the future of technological advancements in the healthcare sector. Using engineering principles and applications you can get the opportunity to design medical equipment that improves health outcomes.”

Join us

Want to know more about student life at Leeds? Chat to one of our current students to find out what it’s like to be part of our welcoming community