When you hear for the first time about a woman holding a management position in one of the largest companies in the world, Microsoft, and at the same time holding the position of Adjunct Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in the United States of America, you might think that this lady has spent many years to reach such positions. However, you would certainly be surprised when you know that the woman who assumed positions ordinarily requiring a lifetime is not yet thirty years old and that she is a young Egyptian woman who has reached the highest positions at such a young age by virtue of her abilities.
Dina Ayman, Program Manager at Microsoft, Professor of Engineering at NJIT, and Founder/CEO of Diversity and Inclusion Power, whose name is written in gold letters in the list of inspiring women around the world, is the first Egyptian girl to obtain a master’s degree in computer engineering before completing her bachelor’s degree.
Not only did Dina, an extraordinary young Egyptian woman, occupy this great position at a young age, but she also occupies a very important academic position as she studies computer and software engineering at one of the largest universities in the United States, the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Since the 7th grade, Egyptian-American Dina Ayman’s dream was to become an engineer. Despite all the successes achieved by Dina as director of the programming department at Microsoft, a field dominated by men, she had faced a family with intentions that were contrary to her goals, as her father wanted her to enroll in medical school. However, Dina decided to study engineering in which she later excelled.
During her studies at the Faculty of Engineering, she received an offer to choose between a doctorate or a master’s degree in parallel with her bachelor’s degree in engineering. She chose a master’s and graduated in 2018 after obtaining a master’s and bachelor’s at the same time, becoming the first Egyptian woman to achieve two degrees in this record time.
At the graduation ceremony, she dazzled the audience with her overwhelming charisma and captivating presence, and so she received job offers from ten companies, among which was Intel.
Ayman specialized in software as an undergraduate, and networking in graduate school. According to the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Dina's major in software as a college student together with her later work allowed her to explore many dimensions in both the software and networking side of technology, although she focused specifically on network problems with 5G networks.
Besides her work at Microsoft, she is also a professor of engineering at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and a CEO of Diversity and Inclusion Power.
Dina spoke to Majalla from New Jersey about her journey – studying and working outside Egypt, her role models, the inspiration for the students she teaches, and her dreams.
Dina spent her childhood between Egypt and the US. She was born in New Jersey and moved to Egypt with her parents and attended elementary and middle school. Afterward, she went back to the States at beginning of high school and still lives there.
“My parents didn’t want me to be an engineer. When I was choosing my major, my parents told me that engineering is not for women. I wanted to change that. I know that technology is still a male-dominated field and we still have so much work to do but I want to tell women that engineering and technology are for them,” she said.
More remarkably, Ayman graduated with both a BSc and MSc in computer engineering in the same year from the New Jersey Institute of Technology in 2018.
“I was always in the dean's List when I was in school. While I was studying for my bachelor’s degree and didn’t think about graduate school at all, I was told by my dean that I was selected to start my master’s degree. I was shocked at first that they selected me to do my master's when I was still a senior in my bachelor's program. But took the offer right away and did the two degrees together and graduated with both in the same year in Computer Engineering.” she said.
About the engineering field, Dina said: “I've always loved math, and wanted to be an engineer since middle school before I even knew what engineering was. But my love for technology started in high school. The idea that I can create something here in the U.S. that would be used on the other side of the world was always fascinating for me. And I was always blown away by how technology has intruded into everything we use, and how it makes life way easier.”
When asked about her specialty as a Program Manager and the challenges she faced in it, she said: “As a Program Manager at Microsoft, I’m leading a team of software engineers who are creating the future. I love how everyone in my team is thinking outside of the box. Always coming up with new ideas to change the technology that we live with today and making it better. Microsoft truly only hires world-class engineers and technology experts and sets the bar way high.”
“I never found difficulties managing people. I feel that that one of my strengths is that I’m naturally a people person and care so much about people,” she added.
In regards to the US embassy’s publication that praises and encourages her, she said: “I’m forever thankful for the support both Egypt and the U.S. give me. I honor all the beautiful comments I get and will always be working hard to inspire others and empower youth.”
Egypt for Dina is “Home.” She is always involved with everything happening in the country and the government. She is now involved with the government’s supporting a huge Haya Karima (“Decent Life”) project for a better life for 500 million citizens.
Her family is her role model. They are so resilient, strong, and her dad and mom never ever give up on her. They always push her to do more. Her concept in life is that: “In life, you will find people that bet on your success and others that bet on your failure. Make sure you’re surrounding yourself with the right ones who believe in you.”
“For girls that want to study engineering, there will be times where you are the only woman in the room, but that’s your power. Don’t let that discourage you from anything you want to achieve. Women are critical to any business success, and you have to always work hard to have a place where decisions are made. Make that your motivation, and know that the sky is your limit. For anyone who dreams to study abroad, the sky is your limit! Work hard and believe you can do it and I know you will.” This was her advice for young girls who aspire to study engineering or dream to study abroad.
“Women are absolutely capable of doing any job on the planet and be successful doing it even if it’s a male-dominated field but we tend to doubt and limit ourselves more than men ever do. And that’s what I really wish to change. I want to inspire more females who want to be in the computer engineering industry and are not intimidated by being in a male-dominated field, but who embrace it because by then it won’t be a male-dominated field,” she added.
About her dreams and future plans, Dina said: “A lot of people feel that I’ve accomplished a lot but for me, this is just the start. I still have a lot of dreams and goals that I want to achieve. I want to keep learning everything that comes my way. I want to grow my company and grow others. I just hope to positively impact others’ lives along the way.”