WISE Feature Interview with Humna Hassan Malik

How did you get started in the field of systems engineering?

I studied BIng Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Johannesburg. I was first introduced to Systems Engineering which was compulsory in my undergraduate degree. This module included a practical project in which I was required to apply my Systems Engineering understanding. I enjoyed the project which allowed me to learn the basic theory and application of Systems Engineering. I then enrolled for a Master’s in Engineering Management with specialization in Systems Engineering, whereby I was funded by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). I was fortunate to work with and be supported by the Integrated Systems Group in the Defence, Peace, Safety and Security (DPSS) division at the CSIR. This group recognized the importance of Systems Engineering to achieve successful projects. I am now working at the Defence and Security cluster at the CSIR as a Systems Engineer.

What do you find interesting or exciting about working in the field of systems science and systems engineering?

Systems Engineering can be applied to complex systems to break them down into manageable subsystems that would otherwise be impossible to comprehend. As a Systems Engineer, I have the bigger picture of the system and its technical details. Systems Engineering allows for a transdisciplinary and integrative approach and can be applied to a project in any engineering discipline. The wide scope allows me to work on various projects as a Systems Engineer and learn about the different disciplines.

What advice do you have for those just starting out in the field of systems engineering?

I would advise anyone who plans to pursue Systems Engineering to complete an engineering degree of a chosen discipline to obtain the necessary technical skills and experience while building strong leadership skills at the same time. As a Systems Engineer, it is essential to understand and contribute to the project’s technical detail while keeping the big picture and strategy in mind. Interpersonal skills are equally crucial as it is imperative to build a strong relationship with the project teams as the project’s success relies on the contribution from the various disciplines.

Humna Hassan Malik

Senior Engineer
Council for Scientific and Industrial Research
South Africa
8 (Africa, Europe, Middle East)

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