Irma Yeginbayeva: I will return to Kazakhstan after gaining knowledge and experience

Irma Yeginbayeva is a Postdoc at the Department of Mechanics and Maritime Sciences, Maritime Environmental Sciences in Gothenburg, Sweden. Before joining Chalmers University, Irma pursued her PhD at Newcastle University (U.K.). The PhD work focused on building a systematic data on roughness and hydrodynamic drag for commercial marine coatings with "in-service" surface conditions by using experimental methods. During her studies, she also worked on ongoing EU project "Seafront".

Егемен Қазақстан
02.03.2018 144

- What inspired you to go into marine science?

- Graduating with honors (‘Altyn Belgi’) from a high school in 2004 gave me a fantastic opportunity to apply to one of the highly competitive universities in the country. At that time, the Kazakh-British Technical University (KBTU) was at its peak, offering high performing young people technical education in the field of Oil&Gas, Chemical engineering and Machineries in Native-Kazakh, official-Russians and in Foreign-English languages. In 2004, the KBTU offered a new program under the cap of “Oil&Gas” field called “Marine technology”, the main purpose of which was to raise new generation, you can also call, first generation of professionals to explore/exploit oil reserves in offshore oil fields in Kazakhstan's zone of the Caspian Sea. The above speciality sounded to me so alluring and equally promising, so I decided to pursue my bachelor degree in the marine field.

- How did your career unfold?

For me, a career, as an integral part of the life helps to pursue my dreams, face my fears and fulfill my potential. The career is also about growth, both professional and personal. Therefore, it’s critical to evaluate whether I am as a professional and individual are testifying within my field of expertise and in life respectively. After finishing my bachelor degree, I have applied to many job positions in my field. It turned out, that I could not land my dream job which was both personally and professionally fulfilling. Besides, our Kazakhstani job market was not ready to take young specialists onboard and give them an opportunity to become an experienced professional. Therefore, I decided to expand my knowledge by pursuing masters and then doctorate degrees in the same field but abroad. In my opinion, gaining knowledge, learning new skills is of utmost importance with ever-increasing demand for competent professionals. I believe that these decisions, which I took before, are now shaping my career in the academic field. 

- Could you tell me about your student life? What did you do besides studying?

In my opinion, student life abroad is the most exciting and enjoyable time for everyone. While studying in the UK I have always filled my calendar with great events. Usually, universities across the UK have so-called “students’ union” through which one can get involved in wide range of fun activities at the university and in city general.

During the whole period of my studies abroad, I have been a member of Newcastle University’s student union societies. For example, I have attended dance classes (ballet, contemporary and pop), learned a new language, and attended various seminars and conferences encouraging the growth of an individual.

Moreover, during my PhD studies, I have also focused on getting a teaching experience. By doing some teaching in marine-related subjects and in IT literacy, I was able not only reflect upon my teaching practice but also support myself financially with the additional fund.  

Without a doubt, travelling was another form of my education since it is always interesting and educational to learn about famous and historic places and cultures.

- Can you share your experience during the studying at University of Newcastle?

- Education at Newcastle University, especially in engineering speciality was not an easy ride. It required a good command of English, technical subject knowledge as well as hard work. However, good grades and successful accomplishment of a degree are achievable as long as one put his/her mind into studies and works efficiently.

- What kind of differences do you notice between studying in the UK and Kazakhstan universities?

- The main difference is independent work of students. There is no wrong or right answers….everything is part of learning and gaining an experience in your field of research interest. 

- Can you tell me what is the first difficulties of Kazakh students which face when they came to the UK?

- I believe it is a language barrier and our traditional food deficiency while abroad.

- We know that now you are working at the University of Sweden. What exactly do you do on a daily basis? Can you tell me about your topic you are researching? 

- Yes, that’s absolutely right. I work at Chalmers University of Technology. I was offered a position of a postdoctoral researcher. Nature of my work is experimental studies of ship hulls coated by special coatings widely used in the shipping industry. These coatings referred as marine antifouling coatings and are used mainly to protect ship hulls against marine growth or fouling (e.g. barnacles, weed, and slime). Together with my colleagues at Chalmers University, we test different types of antifouling coatings to help shipowners to know the penalties (or increase in frictional resistance and fuel consumption) resulting from each type of coatings.  

- Why are you interested in this topic?

- As you may already know, greenhouse gas emissions (e.g. carbon dioxide or CO2) are the main source for global warming. The consequences of the latter are expected to be catastrophic for humanity if no actions are taken to reduce or at least neutralize the release of those gases to the atmosphere. As far as the shipping I concerned, it contributes to 2.7% of total global CO2 release. Therefore, by reducing the emissions coming from ships, the global aim of reducing/controlling the greenhouse gas emissions can be achieved.  In this context, my research task at the university is to look at different ways to understand the surface and hydrodynamic performances of ship hull surfaces to potentially minimize the fuel consumption of ships, thus reducing the release of notorious greenhouse gases. 

- Why did you decide to work in Sweden?  

- When I completed my PhD, I was offered a research position at the university in Sweden. Firstly, the topic of my research field in Sweden is extremely relevant to what I have been working during my postdoctoral studies.  I believe that continuing the research in your field will deepen already acquired knowledge and skills and I guess this was the main reason why I chose this university.

- What are the most challenging aspects of your job?

- I think being a researcher or scientist requires one’s dedication, concentration and takes long hours of reading, analysis, problem-solving. When you are given a research task or question, then finding an answer to it similar to looking for “a needle in a haystack”.

- What do you think, what are the chances of finding a high paying job after graduating from a foreign university in Kazakhstan in your field? What about in Sweden?

- The chances of finding a job in my field are higher abroad than in Kazakhstan. There are several reasons, one of which is that shipping industry is not popular in Kazakhstan due to its geographical isolation from seas, oceans….

- Are you planning to come back to Kazakhstan? 

- Yes, I would like to return to Kazakhstan but after I gain knowledge and experience in my field.

- Thank you!


Interviewed by Madina KERIMKULOVA,

«Egemen Kazakhstan»


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