Alumni Spotlight: The Inspiration Behind a Career in STEM

Categorized: Alumni

By Dunia Basaleh, Alumna and former Clubhouse Coordinator at the Amman Innovation Lab in Jordan

When you’re on top of the world you feel motivated to do a great job at work. However, we all have those days when we need a little bit of extra motivation. Here is one of our alumni stories to inspire you and put a smile on your face!

Meet Izzeldeen Manasra

Izzeldeen manasra
Izzeldeen Manasra is an engineer and alum of e-Village Innovation Lab Clubhouse

Everyone has a story. What’s yours?

Let me start by saying everything we use from day-to-day is the result of engineering. As a child, I enjoyed finding out how things worked, and engineering allows me to use that drive to solve problems and improve people’s lives.

Since I attended high school, I found the mathematics and engineering major to be interesting. My teacher has been more than willing to personally assist me with course work and comprehending the material and making school projects.

In 2009, my teacher let me enjoy The Innovation lab Clubhouse-Madaba Jordan and I became directly involved in the Lego Robotics. My first project was “The coffee maker machine.” I made it totally from recycled parts like wood and plastics mixed with LEGO parts and Mindstorms controllers to participate in the National Techno Parade. The best thing about this project was my Coordinator (Shua’a Altawalbe) who trusted and believed in me to finish the project while she was in the USA at The Clubhouse Network Annual Conference. It was a big challenge to take all the responsibility; we have a short time to finish it before the competition but because of teamwork we made it and won first place in 2009/2010.

From that time on, I focused more on mechanical engineering with my passion for mechanical design in general. The Clubhouse has helped me to stay on the right track because of the incredible opportunities I have been given such as attending the Teen Summit 2010 in Boston and having the honor to meet Mitchel Resnick, Lego Papert Professor of Learning Research, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, who enlightened me with his knowledge and, by pushing me further, he assured me I could to continue on this path. Therefore, as a result of being an active member, I won the C2C STEAM scholarship in 2011, which gave me the opportunity to master my leadership skills.

Did you go back to The Clubhouse after you became an alumni?

In 2014, I decided to follow the footsteps of most alumni who return and mentor other youth out of passion, in order to pass on the knowledge that I was taught from the Clubhouse to a new generation of youth or members, specifically to teach robotics as a future major starting from FLL competitions. I have taught approximately 150 students in The Clubhouse as a coach for the FLL teams, and we have won many awards such as mechanical design, programming, research, and project awards. Also during this time, I was a full-time college student. Due to the high university tuition, and because coaching was taking most of my time, I had to quit coaching and find a job to be able to cover the fees. So I decided to work as a night shift market worker in Sameh Mall, but after two months I received a call that informed me that I had won a full paid scholarship from the Hashemite court of Jordan because of my scientific excellence. So, I left the job because it was time and energy consuming and I couldn’t get enough sleep to stay focused in classes.

Please share your immediate goal after graduation instead of your whole life plan.

After graduating, I became a manager with Bright Engineers where I created a curriculum, and head of projects’ development. In addition to working in Bright Engineers, I was a technical robotics consultant of The King Abdullah II Design and Development Bureau (KADDB) for university student’s projects. I’ve designed and built a special heavy-duty robot for snow blowing and firefighting purposes.

Then I worked for the National Institute for Robotics and Technology as the Head of coaches and the Technical Manager working with University students in the field of Mechanical Design, CAD/CAM, IoT, Robotics, Manufacturing, and machining.

I won a lot of prizes as a coach (national and international) and I was the main speaker in a lot of professional summits and congresses for many organizations such as IEEE. Now I’m a Teaching Assistant at HTU Hussein Technical University, and I’m looking for any chance to continue my higher studies in the field of robotics and mechanical engineering in the USA, it’s my big vision.

How has The Clubhouse contributed to who you are today?

Allow me to mention Suha ALSyouf, the past Director of the Clubhouses in Jordan because of her care and responsibility, and always motivating and encouraging us. The success of the Clubhouse and us depends on the administrator, her technical expertise, and her generous spirit. Even if all the tools and equipment were available.

The people around me and people who know me in person know that my personality, study, and career, are all results from my Clubhouse journey. Actually, that could be shown and easily noted when I look at my life now and my connection and relations, my resume and career–all of them directly connect to my experience in the Clubhouse and I’m still being rewarded from them now. I didn’t know myself before the clubhouse and couldn’t see anything special about me without the skills I got from it, especially the personal and soft skills of dealing with and learning from others; and self-learning, the most important and effective skill that members in Clubhouses get. I was lucky that the Clubhouse was in my life who encouraged me to pursue my dreams until now.

As a reader, you may wonder why to choose the Clubhouse? I could illustrate a variety of reasons and list a lot of successful members and alumni. However, to put it in simple terms, Izz’s story is not the only story that has reached his goals and built his dreams, there are thousands more of Izz. The clubhouse is not just an organization, it’s more of a home of creativity with no limitation and a place filled with inspiration and an incredible amount of support to boost youth’s confidence. We may have different minds and cultures, but we belong in one place. -Dunia Basaleh

Dunia Basaleh is an alumna and former Coordinator at the Jordan Innovation Lab in Amman, Jordan. She continues to inspire others to be creative and pursue their passions.