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DEI Chat: Zahra'a Hussain talks Formula SAE Diversity for Arab American Heritage Month

Posted: April 28, 2023

Zahra’a Hussain is making strides for the next generation of STEM innovators.

This National Arab American Heritage Month, SAE International sat down with Zahra’a Hussain, advanced systems engineer at Aptiv, to learn about her experiences in the mobility industry.

Hussain first got involved with SAE as a student member of Wayne State University’s Formula SAE team. She was interested in joining an activity outside the classroom that let her competitiveness shine while improving her engineering skills. When she first started out, she knew she had a lot of learning ahead of her in an unfamiliar environment, but she was ready to get to work.

“Formula SAE is a mainly male dominated area, so it was challenging to step up to the plate,” she said. “Some people didn’t really like the idea of having a woman being the main lead of the team—until they started seeing results. Once we started placing at competitions, people started to take me more seriously and realized that I knew what I was doing.”

Hussain became the President of Wayne State University’s Formula SAE team during her senior year. As a team leader, she found the opportunity she was looking for to develop her engineering skills, which prepared her for several internships she secured along the way. She credits her experience with Formula SAE for her connections across the industry that brought her to where she is today.

In addition to her role at Aptiv, Hussain serves on the board of the SAE Detroit Section as the Assistant Vice Chair of Student Members. Being president of her Formula team = connected her with members of the Detroit section and ultimately secured her position on the board.

Hussain shared her passion for spreading her engineering knowledge to the next generation, specifically inspiring young girls to pursue a career in STEM.

“Coming from a background of people telling me because I’m a girl, I can’t be an engineer or I’m not going make it or girls can’t think logically can get really frustrating. For young girls who want to pursue STEM, I say keep going with it,” she said. “STEM is hard, engineering is hard and at points you may want to give up, but just keep going.”