It can be challenging to move to Canada from another country for school but imagine being the only woman in the class.
This is something that Harsh Saini, an international student from India faces, as she is the only woman in her Computer Engineering Technology Diploma course at Sask Polytech in Moose Jaw.
“Whenever someone says anything about computer technology, the first thing that comes to their mind is a male figure,” says Saini.
As part of International Women’s Day on Mar. 8, Saini was featured by the school for her part in the course.
Saini decided to move to Moose Jaw on the recommendation of her sister who graduated with a Business Diploma at Sask Polytech in 2018.
“She advised me of this program because she knew that computers were something that I liked,” adds Saini. “I’ve always loved working on them and modifying them to however I want them. She said this was a good program for me to be in.”
Another benefit of the program is that it involves work experience. For four months Saini is in the classroom learning and then switches to on-the-job training for another four months, as part of the cooperative internship portion of the program.
“We get to experience working in the industry while we’re studying, which helps us gain more experience to get a job after we graduate.”
As part of her internship, she is a technical analyst with the Regina Catholic School Division.
“It’s been great! I’ve been talking to new people, coming across new problems every day, and trying to solve them.”
Included in the program is a wide variety of technical aspects of computers, which has taught Saini a lot.
“The program ranges from normal computer build-ups to cyber security, to networking, to everyday supports, and digital applications.”
Though she is the only woman in the program, her classmates don’t treat her as such. She explains that they have been very supportive in her transition into the program and Moose Jaw.
“They always encourage me to ask questions and to figure things out on my own. They don’t make me feel stupid when I may not know something. We make a very good team when we’re working together and sometimes, I even come up with great ideas, which they don’t think of. They have been very helpful in guiding me through the stuff I don’t know.”
In the beginning, she notes that it was a little difficult being the only woman in the class, but fast forward to now, and the bond has definitely grown between her and her classmates.
One of the highlights for Saini was last semester when she created a remote-controlled car that was steered by hand movements.
“It was just a figment of my imagination before I made it work. I just love the fact that I can modify things to make them suitable for however I want them to work and build things from scratch.”
Saini will graduate from Sask Polytech next year with her diploma. Following graduation, she hopes this program will allow her to continue being a technical analyst – a job she is currently doing with the Regina Catholic School Division.
Looking down the road, Saini will analyze the industry and potentially return to school to further her education in computer engineering technology.
(With files from Cory Knutt/Discover Moose Jaw)