Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Dubai graduate, Zulfa Rasheed, has set out to challenge vocational traditions and prove that the worlds of art and engineering can unite in one career path. An exhibited artist and practising electrical engineer, Rasheed is pursuing her talents to build a name for herself in the two traditionally opposing industries.

Unwilling to give up on either one of her childhood passions, Zulfa has found herself following the example of famed Renaissance painter, Leonardo da Vinci, who saw science and art as allies, not opposites. Working as both an artist and an electrical engineer, Rasheed has transported da Vinci’s vision into the present day.

Rasheed explained: “In high school my dream was to become a design engineer or an architect; to work in any field that combined art and engineering, so that I could continue to do both. Yet I was often told that one day I would have to choose between the two careers, and I was confused about which direction to take. When I went to college, however, I discovered the parallels between the two disciplines; artists and engineers both aim to create something, it is just their thinking style that is different. I believe that by combining the two, we can make something truly unique.”

Rasheed's formal career as an artist started out when she joined the Kalba Art Centre in 2010. She was artist-in-residence at Fujairah Cultural and Media Authority’s Art House, Fujairah Fort, between 2018 and 2019. Through a combination of impressionism and abstract styles, Rasheed has used the lantern as a primary subject and produced the 'Lantern' series of artworks since 2017. She joined the Fujairah Fine Arts Academy (FFAA) in 2020 and became a member of the Emirates Fine Arts Academy earlier this year.

Rasheed has delivered more than 20 workshops and participated in over 40 art exhibitions and events in the UAE and internationally, including a performance with the FFAA at the Expo 2020 Dubai Youth Pavilion. Also a promising calligrapher, specialising in Naskh and Thuluth, Rasheed was most recently among the participating artists in the Al Azhar Al Sharief Forum for Arabic calligraphy and ornamentation in Cairo.

Alongside her impressive credentials as an artist, Rasheed is working to support the UAE’s transition to renewable energies, in her role as an electrical engineer, freelance researcher and project manager. While studying at RIT Dubai, Rasheed was an award-winner in the 2020 Lean Six Sigma Technical Paper Competition, organized by the Industrial Engineering and Operations Management Society. Since graduating, Rasheed has worked in projects with the Clean Energy Business Council and her current employer, the Middle-East Solar Industry Association.

Having discovered that she can combine of both her passions, Rasheed aims to set her own example and demonstrate how the two disciplines can work together for a better future. She concludes: “The idea of combining engineering and art is not a new one, but it will be of growing importance in the future. Artistic expression brings a sense of balance and self-completion in a world increasingly driven by artificial intelligence. I believe that cross-disciplinary thinking will be vital in developing creative solutions to emerging societal challenges and so we must continue to encourage the union of art and engineering.”

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