Dr Nabila Ahmed Rufa’I’s Biography
Dr Rufa’I was born in September 1987 in the ancient city of Kano in North-western Nigeria. She completed her primary and secondary education in Kano before proceeding to Bayero University Kano for her undergraduate studies in Electrical Engineering. Upon graduation, she was employed as a Technical consultant on Renewable Energy Systems in a private company in Nigeria. She later enrolled in a Master’s program in Electrical Engineering and Renewable Energy Systems at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom, where she graduated with distinction. Dr Nabila Ahmed Rufa’I graduated from the same University with a PhD in Electronic and Electrical Engineering in 2019.
She is currently a Lecturer in Electrical Engineering at Bayero University Kano. She is also an independent consultant in Renewable Energy and Hybrid power grid systems. Her research interests include Distributed Generation Systems (particularly Solar and Biomass Systems), Renewable Energy Sources (Techno-Economic Analysis) and Power Quality Enhancement.
She is passionate about improving the Nigerian populations’ access to electricity.
Why did you get into STEM?
I have always had a passion for knowing how things work and the science behind their operation. I have particularly been fascinated by the concept of electricity: how is it generated? How is it transmitted to us? How does it power things around us? It is no surprise, therefore, that I thoroughly enjoyed secondary school Mathematics and Physics. When the time came to choose a major for my undergraduate university education, I enrolled in Electrical Engineering.
What do you consider your greatest achievements?
Graduating from the University of Leeds with a PhD in Electronic and Electrical Engineering! It was a challenging time both physically and mentally, as my husband was equally pursuing his PhD and we also had 2 young children.
Some of the knowledge contributions arising from my PhD thesis include: the development of a novel adaptive notch filter for damping the resonance effect of a grid converter’s LCL filter under dynamic grid conditions and the development of a novel optimised flexible power control (OFPC) method of generating reference currents for a photovoltaic distributed generator under unbalanced grid voltages.
I am currently working on a project which, when concluded, will provide a detailed framework on how Kano city will transition into one of the most sustainable cities in the world through the conversion of municipal solid waste into electric power.
What challenges have you faced as a woman in STEM and how did you overcome them?
With engineering being traditionally a male-dominated profession, it is at times hard for us women to be seen as equally competent as our male colleagues. To prove that we are capable, we are tasked with working twice as hard. Sometimes I have to show my I.D. for people to realise that it is indeed I that has a PhD in Engineering. I remember a time during my undergraduate studies when I was preparing for my final year project: I went to purchase the components I required but the salesman refused to attend to me. He did not think I knew what the items were used for. It took me some effort to convince him that I was working on a project before he could sell the items to me. Whenever I am faced with such gender-biased challenges, I make it a point to converse and explain to people that there is no such thing as a man’s or woman’s job: anybody can be anything, so long as they put their minds to it.
What is your advice to budding women in STEM?
My advice to all the young women out there is to be persistent and relentless. Do not let anybody come between you and your dreams. Have confidence in yourselves and know that gender is not a barrier to reaching your goals. I also urge all young ladies to join support groups or networks where they can exchange ideas with other like-minded ladies.