Her job: Professor and Dean of Faculty, University of Prishtina
Describe what you do in your current work situation?
I am a professor and currently the Dean of Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering (FECE) at the University of Prishtina (UP). Prishtina is the capital of Kosova, a region very well-known for being devastated and poor. In these post-war circumstances, besides my regular activities such are teaching and researching, I am very involved in introducing reforms in the UP and rebuilding destroyed laboratories.
Why did you choose engineering?
I ended up in electrical engineering because in the year when I finished high school, the UP had commenced studies in the department of electronics and telecommunications. These studies were new and very attractive. They offered many opportunities and challenges, and so I decided to go there.
Where did you go to school and what degree(s) do you have?
I have received a B.S. in Electrical Engineering, Department of Electronics and Telecommunications, from the University of Prishtina, thus being the first woman in Kosova to receive this degree.
I finished graduate studies for my M.S at the University of Belgrade, Faculty of Electrical Engineering, and not only was I the first woman, but also the first Albanian from Kosova to receive any higher degree in this faculty. My intention is not to underline this as a personal achievement, but only to illustrate discriminating circumstances for Kosovar Albanians which the regime applied for a very long time. Even though I had strong support from my professor to continue working for a Ph.D. in this faculty, it was becoming impossible for me to proceed with this idea. The general situation worsened as each day went by with what would soon be the beginning of a bloody disintegration of the former Yugoslavia. I finished my studies and received a Ph.D. at the Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Prishtina, and of course, once again, I had the title of being the "first woman" to get it.
What kinds of activities have typically been part of your work?
At the beginning of my career as an engineer, I worked for a short time in industry as a technical director in a Public Telecommunications Company. Then I joined the staff of the University of Prishtina, where I still am today. In addition to being engaged in my daily duties in teaching, continuous researching, and publication of papers, I have been also involved in organizing and managing the university. I was one of the Vice Deans of FECE, a member of the Senate of UP, and a member of the Council of UP. In October 2006 I was elected the Dean of the Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering, a position filled for the first time by a woman.
What do you like best about being an engineer?
The challenge of working at the university is that it fulfills the career of an engineer and scientist with possibilities to participate in many research and industrial projects, as a participant, manager, consultant, or supervisor. However, the best part of all this is the work with students, with young people who are smart and have a high sense of responsibility
Which of your career accomplishments are you proudest of?
When the regime of Belgrade suspended institutions of Kosova, my husband and I, together with all Albanian professors, were expelled from the UP. Instead of going abroad to find a job and continue our careers, we decided to stay in Kosova and share the same destiny with millions of other suffering people. At this time, the parallel system of education in Albanian language began to be established, and we have been involved in it from the beginning.
What challenges have you met and conquered in your pursuit of an engineering career?
For more than eight years, we developed teaching and other activities in private houses in different places of the city, hiding from the Serbian police. Our only means for studying have been textbooks and professional books (mostly acquired from the U.S.A. with many difficulties), personal computers, a few pieces of cheap equipment and instrumentations (some of them handmade) and, of course, a very high motivation of professors and students. We did not have an illusion that we could achieve the best results in educating a new generations of engineers under the present circumstances, but our goals were to hold the continuity in engineering education and to pass on the knowledge about trends in new technologies (even though only in theory).
Please tell us a little about your family.
I have been together with my husband, Ilir, since my third year of studies, and he is my strongest support. He is also a professor of the Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering. We have four lovely daughters. Jeta (25) is an architect, Zana (21) is an engineer of communications, Lura (19) and Mrika (17) are students.
What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term (10+ years) goals?
I hope that very soon I will finish writing my third book, and my long-term goal is to see the University of Prishtina growing up and developing into a modern institution of higher education.
What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in engineering?
If you are smart, self-confident and love mathematics feel free to go into engineering, because with this profession no matter where you are working, whether it is in some high-tech laboratory, known university or remote and poor region, you will always be able to bring up new developments and changes in your environment and community.
Describe something about your life outside of work: your hobbies, or perhaps a favorite book.
I enjoy gardening and reading. Also, I enjoy hiking in the mountains with family on weekends.