Fatemeh Mirakhorli has been following the path of science for as long as she can remember. In her native Iran she obtained undergraduate and Master's degrees in materials science and metallurgy, before making the decision to branch out. "I wanted to pursue science on a broader scope, and contribute to scientific work that could have international impacts," recalls Fatemeh.
She pursued her PhD at the École de technologie supérieure in Montréal on laser welding of hydroelectric turbine components, in collaboration with Institut de recherche d'Hydro-Québec (IREQ) and the NRC's Aerospace Research Centre, during which time she gained hands-on experience and theoretical knowledge in laser welding, and a chance to get to know the NRC's framework. So when the opportunity to work directly for the NRC presented itself several months before graduation, it was an easy decision. "I knew that I could advance my professional career in science and technology by working on top-notch projects, with a great team at the NRC," says Fatemeh. "I feel proud to be able to contribute to work that makes a real difference to industry. Managing projects that tackle challenges and helps Canadian companies to take the next steps forward gives me satisfaction."
Today, Fatemeh is a Research Officer with our Automotive and Surface Transportation Research Centre. Working at the Aluminium Technology Centre in Saguenay, her specialty is in the field of fusion and laser welding.
"Essentially, a laser is a bright, coherent, and narrow beam of light that can be delivered by a fibre optic to a laser optic head, which focusses the beam's power into a tiny spot for welding, or any other laser material processing," Fatemeh explains. "Laser welding applications are growing fast in different industries, such as the automotive, medical, electronic, aerospace, and even food industries. Higher production speed is one of the main reasons that industry is moving towards this process. Moreover, this technology allows for good mechanical properties, due to smaller fusion and heat-affected zones, less heat distortion and greater design flexibility. Here at the NRC, we've accomplished many industrial research projects to help the Canadian industry to shift their way to more eco-friendly, fast and robust manufacturing processes by adopting this technology."
When asked what it's like to be a woman in a field often dominated by men, Fatemeh is both humble and passionate: "I try my best to encourage girls to get into STEM . As a girl or young woman, sometimes it's difficult to see the way forward due to the lack of recognized female pioneers in science, although there are many of them out there that can help young girls to imagine and build their dreams. I always tell young girls and boys that, regardless of how society may treat them or the challenges they face in life, they can have a role to play if they follow their dreams. There's pleasure and satisfaction in pursuing the road of science, in solving challenges, and gaining knowledge that can have real impacts."