Spotlight on Women in Tech: Ms Farina Riaz
Meet Ms Farina Riaz, a postgraduate student at CSIRO’s Data61 who is currently working on quantum artificial intelligence (AI) and its applications. We chat to her about her most impactful projects, career journey, and how STEM industries and research organisations can attract more talented women.
What led you to choose a career in tech?
New technology has always inspired me.
What attracted you to join CSIRO’s Data61?
CSIRO’s Data61 is renowned for developing new and impactful technologies that assist society, with the people behind these inventions and research experts in their field. It’s great to work with and learn from them!
Can you please describe your professional background and the areas you specialise in?
I have a postgraduation in computer software engineering and am interested in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), wireless sensors and networks.
I have six journal publications and two conference publications, along with four years of experience as a lecturer at multiple universities. Prior to CSIRO’s Data61, I was a Software Quality Assurance Engineer at NERO AG (Germany) and an internee during my masters at CERN Lab in Switzerland.
Can you share an example of a data and digital science project that you’ve worked on that you’re most proud of, and that has achieved positive impact? What was the biggest lesson you took away from the experience?
I deigned a novel routing algorithm during my masters that send alerts about nearby hazard notifications and the automatic actions can be taken immediately.
During my masters I designed a novel routing algorithm that notifies users about nearby hazards and the presents response actions that can be taken to mitigate risk.
This particular application was used to detect fires and other environmental hazards in the field, with the actuator of the responding machine or system immediately taking action. An example would be water sprinkles activating in response to smoke.
I also designed and implemented an automatic recovery tool and log analyser for grid computing while a member of CERN Lab.
What are some of the projects you’re working on at CSIRO’s Data61? What about them excites you?
I’m currently working on quantum artificial intelligence and quantum computing at CSIRO’s Data61.
Quantum computers are an emerging technology that will be available for commercial use in roughly five to 10 years. They will exponentially speed up the creation of algorithms that power AI and have the potential to optimise the solutions needed for complicated challenges such as climate change, weather prediction, and medical technology.
I believe they will likely help create technology that’s not even imaginable at this time.
In your opinion, what’s the single biggest change that needs to happen to encourage more women to pursue careers in tech?
Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) industries and research institutions need to be more accessible and attractive to women. This could be done by increasing the number of female-applicant-only scholarships and better support for working mothers, such as a hybrid working environment.
How can colleagues, organisations and industries within tech better support and enable women?
Increase the number of female-applicant-only scholarships, make women’s salaries more competitive, and provide mothers with more support so they can continue to advance their career.
What advice would you give to women and girls wanting to pursue a career in tech?
Apply your problem solving, situational management and curiosity to science and technology! These skills are the perfect framework to begin building a STEM career from and ultimately help find innovative solutions for challenging problems.
Learn more about Ms Riaz’s scientific excellence here.