First Women In Engineering (WIE) Ambassador from Ireland in the IEEE WIE (UK&I Section)

Lubna Luxmi Dhirani is working in a Post-doctoral position in Data and Network Security at Department of E&CE, University of Limerick, Ireland. She is the first Women In Engineering (WIE) Ambassador from Ireland in the IEEE WIE (UK&I Section). Lubna finished her PhD in Electronic and Computer Engineering from University of Limerick in 2019, being the first women from her Ethnic community in Pakistan to pursue a degree in this field. Her PhD project was titled “Six Sigma based Novel Approach in resolving Hybrid Cloud Computing QoS and SLA-based issues in Heterogenous Cloud Environment”. Lubna did MSc in Business Information Technology from Southampton Solent University, United Kingdom and has worked as a lecturer for 3 years, teaching IT-based courses at Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology, United Arab Emirates and ISRA University, Pakistan. She did B.Eng in Computer Systems from Mehran University of Engineering & Technology, Pakistan. Lubna’s research contributions are listed on  https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=T9y9pgEAAAAJ&hl=en. As a Technology Speaker, she has delivered Tech Talks, lightning talks, webinars focusing on Industry 4.0/Industrial IoT,  Cybersecurity and Cloud Computing. She has been nominated as a speaker at the IEEE WIE International Leadership Conference 2021. Besides this, Lubna has also remained a StemAspire mentee at DELL Technologies, Limerick. The program ended with her team winning the annual 2018-19 UI/UX project.

Monologue –  Lubna belongs to a minority Hindu “Maheshwari Community” from Tharparkar, Pakistan where pursuing higher education and a career in Engineering was merely a dream for girls with very limited job opportunities. However, she chose to follow her dreams and did B.Eng in Computer Systems in 2006 (secured distinction with 3rd position and was awarded a bronze medal), she remained a scholarship holder throughout her undergrad.

Lubna, a girl with high aspirations and dreams to pursue higher education from abroad knew it wouldn’t be a bed of roses as females had to oblige with travel, time and cultural restrictions, but she didn’t loose hope and left no stone unturned. Lubna applied and was selected for a High Performance Computing workshop at International Centre of Theoretical Physics (ICTP), Trieste, Italy in 2007 which was partially funded by the International centre and was a life changing experience for her. She worked side-by-side in Teams with men in majority, which boosted her confidence and that she can make a place for herself in male dominant environments and stand on her own grounds. Lubna’s Postgrad degree (MSc) refined her academic and analytical skills and her volunteering experience as an NVQ-1 radio presenter at Unity101 further enhanced her communication proficiencies.

Lubna being the first women from her ethnic community to pursue a Masters degree from abroad had sown a seed which was to be seen flourishing in the future years to come. Upon her return to Pakistan in Oct 2008, she saw waves of change – in her words  “parents who saved money for getting their girls married off, were now ready to invest in their higher education and many even started applying for admissions overseas”. This was a huge achievement, she felt happy for playing a part in it, breaking stereotypes and opening doors for the future generations. Lubna gave a ray of hope and voice to many people’s dreams. Between 2008 to date, a lot of girls undertook undergrad and postgrad exchange/full programs. Lubna was offered an academic position at ISRA University, Pakistan where she served for a year teaching undergrad and postgrad students from Computer and Management Sciences faculty. Between the years 2010-15, Lubna worked in diversified environments in both business and academics.

In 2015, Lubna took a leap of faith, a challenge in life with her 21/2 year old son, she was awarded the Erasmus Mundus LEADERS scholarship for PhD at Department of E&CE, University of Limerick, Ireland. At that time, her decision was not well-received by her community but she chose to pursue her dreams. Lubna finished her PhD in Electronic and Computer Engineering in 2019, being the first women to complete a PhD in this field and the first Mum too – she would probably rank 2nd considering all Engineering disciplines. As mentioned before, post-2008 many girls followed the path that she had opened, Lubna has stood by the motto “I Choose to Challenge”, her one bold decision as a Mum changed the entire dynamics for not only girls but mum’s as well, who felt contained. Presently few mum’s have started their PhD’s abroad following Lubna as an example.

Behind this journey, there has been struggle and sacrifices, dedication, hard work, the list would go on but at the same time –  she is blessed with parents who had faith in her, a supporting husband, a son who always believed in his mom and said “you can do it”, her supervisor Dr. Thomas Newe whose continuous support and guidance motivated her during her PhD and her Guru Maa Bijaya who was the first one to say “Lubna, step out of your comfort zone, do not limit a possibility which can be exceptionally limitless” in 2013. She holds huge gratitude for everyone who has played a role in shaping her life and is also thankful to Silver Apples Creche for providing an amazing childcare support during her PhD.

The challenges that Lubna had faced in her life coming from a conservative background, to where she stands today has made her resilient, focused, kind and a team-player. Her journey has been an inspiration and encouraged young girls and women from her community to pursue their dreams in STEM, aspire a career and family balanced life, given them “a ray of hope and wings to fly” and this is what makes her happiest at the most!