“My dream and goal is to build a research group in Kuwait which welcomes all research areas and all researchers”
Hi, could you introduce yourself in a few words?
Dana Alwazzan. Researcher. Field Engineer.
Tell us about your education.
I have completed both my bachelor and master in Mechanical Design and Manufacturing Engineering with a first class honors and a distinction, respectively. Those degrees were obtained at Newcastle University, UK.
What is it exactly that you do?
During the educational journey: I was a research assistant to one of the leaders in combustion science, Prof. Nilanjan Chakraborty. I have researched computational combustion and flame analysis for premixed turbulent and laminar flames. We have actually published 6 papers and attended 3 conference proceedings, within 3 years.
Present day: I have recently started working at Halliburton, a service oil company in Kuwait, where I’m learning so much on being a field engineer. I am discovering ways on how to implement my research in this field.
What got you interested in what you’re doing?
The innovation and newness. Combustion Science has so many gaps to be completed and enhanced. It produces 95% efficient energy. The only drawback is high emissions. Working on developing a clean combustion and studying its flame behavior is very important. This study (computational combustion) includes a wide range of knowledge. One needs to apply mechanical; by process and design, chemical; by knowing fuel types, and reaction and computer; by programming the flame behavior using FORTRAN.
What makes you unique or special in what you are doing?
I am one of the few women and Arabs in combustion science. It is a privilege to induce diversity in the field. Moreover, in less than one year I have learned the programming language and studied combustion physics.
Tell us your journey to where you have reached today. How was the initial struggle?
My journey started in my first year of university where I took a thermos-fluid class with Prof. Chakraborty. I was simply fascinated and said to myself ‘I want to be part of this science.’ So I went to my Prof. and asked him if it was possible to join his team. He smiled, accepted and game me materials to read on computational combustion. In my second year I started to learn the language and to read papers where I found that most papers were analyzing combustion flames without the effect of flame wall propagation. So I decided to start my first research on flame quenching near combustion wall chambers. This research was my first publication in Journal of Turbulence with the guide of Nilanjan Chakraborty. There was no struggle because the will to reach, passion toward the research and support of the university and Nilanjan, removed all obstacles that might occur.
How has been the help of your family in what you are doing? Were they supportive since the beginning?
My family always has my back and gave 100% support; especially my mom who always told me to follow my dreams no matter how hard, tough or silly.
Who are your top 3 heroes and why?
Prof. Nilanjan Chakraboty – He is the reason of my passion toward combustion science and my mentor. He gave me the opportunity to research and publish and be part of the combustion institute.
Prof. Markus Klien – My second mentor, the person who always pushed me to higher goals. He gave me a chance to complete my higher studies in Germany.
Mom, Ghaydaa Alshamali – The back-bone of this journey.
What are some of the challenges you are facing in your field and how are you overcoming them?
The only challenge faced is to bring the research here in my country. It is very hard to communicate the importance of combustion science as an alternative energy source. They were fixated on only solar wind and water desalination research topics. To me, the only challenge I want to overcome is to give this research a Kuwaiti origin. Although I am from Kuwait I believe this research needs to come out of Kuwait research institutes.
What advice or mentorship made a difference in your career?
Prof. Nilanjan once said to me, “Things you need to excel in: your career, modesty and ambition. Those things I see in you. Please always be the same.”
How would your friends describe you?
Hard worker, driven, determined to reach the finish line with superb outcomes.
What are some of your hobbies?
Programming, cooking (especially baking) and swimming.
What are some of your top achievements?
•The School of Mechanical and Systems Engineering prize for Best Overall MSc
•The School of Mechanical and Systems Engineering prize for Outstanding MSc Project Work
What are your plans or goals for the future?
My short term goal is to apply my research at my work place; developing the oil sector perforating methods to a more environmentally friendly explosive charge.
My long term goal is to expand the research and build a research group based in my county Kuwait.
How does it feel to have been chosen for this award?
It feels wonderful to be recognized for a good cause I hope to be a good example to my fellow young brothers and sisters of Kuwait and the world. If you are able to improve, discover or even invent in your field of interest do it, because you are the change to make this world a better place.
Your message for other young and talented people out there.
It is never too late to find your passion, whether it’s in arts, sports, business or academics. Once you do find it, shine like a star and be grateful.
Your favourite quote.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know, the more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
“Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive you-er than you!”. Both are by Dr. Seus