Stargazing in Enaiza started the passion for GCC’s first female aerospace engineer

Stargazing in Enaiza started the passion for GCC’s first female aerospace engineer
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Updated 23 December 2022
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Stargazing in Enaiza started the passion for GCC’s first female aerospace engineer

Stargazing in Enaiza started the passion for GCC’s first female aerospace engineer
  • Mishaal Ashemimry returned home to Saudi Arabia this year because of improvements to the industry in the Kingdom

RIYADH: When it comes to progress in advanced industries like aerospace, the Middle East region has the benefit of the knowledge accrued by the rest of the world’s trials and errors.

That is the view of the Gulf Cooperation Council’s first female aerospace engineer, Mishaal Ashemimry, who called it “the biggest motivator in terms of the career I chose, and what keeps me going.”

Ashemimry has been passionate about space since childhood, stargazing at her home of Enaiza in Qassim from the age of six.

“I had a calling when I was six, when I looked up at the stars and I was like, ‘OK, I’m super excited about this stuff. I don’t understand anything about it. I need to learn more.’ So, it became logical for me that I need to understand the stars and what’s up there, because I didn’t understand what they’re made out of and so forth. So that created this curiosity that I wanted to explore,” she said.

As she grew older, she realized the only way to fully understand stars and space was to go there, and the only way to go to space is by rocket.

“At the time, obviously, I didn’t know it was called aerospace. I just knew this is a vehicle I need to make so I can go to space. And then as I grew and learned more and so forth, I realized it’s aerospace engineering,” she said.

“Yes, it’s a new field in Saudi, which is … exciting because, you know, you get a lot that has happened since the 1940s until now.”

Ashemimry said she was lucky enough that her passion was so strong and that she kept learning, as it made her even more curious to create vehicles and explore space.

“I guess, the essential ingredient inside of me that drives me is the desire for exploration and to understand what we don’t understand … the universe, as we all know, is extremely mysterious. And there’s a lot for us to learn,” she explained.

“It’s kind of interesting to be part of that and to kind of see where … how do we move forward from here and how do we leapfrog into the future?”

Ashemimry moved back to Saudi Arabia this summer because of the current state of the aerospace industry in the Kingdom. “In 2018, the Saudi Space Commission was created and that showcased to me that Saudi Arabia is moving in the right direction from my point of view, which is towards space. And I wanted to see what would happen in the next few years,” she said.

Eng. Mishaal Ashemimry is currently special advisor to the CEO of the Saudi Space Commission and vice president for the diversity initiative of the International Astronautical Federation. Ashemimry is a consultant in her field and was a professor at the University of Miami Mechanical and Aerospace Department.