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The Malaysian Touch In London Underground

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LONDON: Every Malaysian travelling around London on the underground or better known as “The Tube” should be rest assured there is a Malaysian touch somewhere in a network that carries 1.265 billion passengers annually.

Aimi Elias, a 26-year-old Malaysian who was recently hailed as “one of a growing number of women in the transport sector” in a recent article by Metro, a free tabloid format newspaper here, works for the London Underground Crossrail team and is currently the project engineer for Crossrail Liverpool Street Station.

Her mother who hails from Johor Bahru and father from Penang moved here in 1982. However, Aimi’s grandparents still lives in Ampang, Kuala Lumpur.

“My parents worked hard to make sure my brother and I are able to make the most out of being in the United Kingdom and get a good education. We’re from a low income family and neither of them (mom and dad) have gone to university,” she said when interviewed by Bernama recently.

Aimi’s younger brother is currently attached to Transport for London’s (TfL) Track Renewal Apprenticeship scheme.

Aimi said she was able to fund herself through her undergraduate years at Imperial College taking a civil engineering degree through a student loan and a bursary from the Institution of Civil Engineers called Quest Scholarship which linked her to an engineering consultancy company that would host her during summer placements.

Aimi said her job involved facilitating the delivery of the Crossrail works and minimising the impact on London Underground’s operational railway.

“My other job scopes are reviewing Crossrail proposals so we can support the Crossrail programme of works and enable London underground to accept works into operational use and maintenance,” she said.

Crossrail was established in 2001 to promote and develop vital links to meet the needs of people and businesses throughout the South East, and to ensure that London continues in its role as the Europe’s leading financial and business centre.

Crossrail was a joint venture company between TfL and the Department for Transport (DfT) until late 2008 when it became a fully owned subsidiary of TfL.

Aimi said her ambition in school was to be involved in a profession that was able to make a difference to people’s lives and upon hearing engineers saved more lives than doctors, she could not say no when TfL offered her a job.

“Engineers have a huge impact on society by simply providing the infrastructure for people to have a better life. When TfL offered me, I couldn’t think of a better application of engineering. Public transport enables all parts of society to go about their day to day business, from commuting to work to visiting relatives and friends,” she said.

When asked on working in a sector dominated by men, Aimi said there was no reason for girls to be put off being involved in any engineering industry, from constructing buildings to designing space stations

“Engineering has always been perceived as a male dominated field, and it’s true, only eight percent of the engineering industry is made up of women. This needs to change.

“I’m hoping that more women are open to talking about their day job to dispel the perception that it’s only a profession suitable for men,” she said.

Aimi was a finalist in the recently held FameLab 2015 UK Grand Final where 10 UK finalists battle each other in a communications competition designed to engage and entertain by breaking down science, technology and engineering concepts into a three minute presentation.

“I’m the only engineer and non-Caucasian who made it to the final. Unfortunately, I didn’t win but I gave my best shot,” said Aimi who explained the art of tunnelling using yoga in the competition.

The final at the Bloomsbury Theatre in London on April 22 was held following 18 heats and eight regional finals with the winner taking home the title of FameLab UK champion and a prize of 1750 to further their careers in science communication.

The competition started 10 years ago in the UK by Cheltenham Science Festival and has successfully identified, trained, and mentored scientists and engineers to share their enthusiasm for their subjects with the public.


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