RIT Dubai graduate fuses careers in art and engineering

Electrical engineer and exhibited artist bridges gap between opposing disciplines

5 August 2022, Dubai, UAE: 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 practicing electrical engineer, Zulfa 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, Zulfa has transported da Vinci’s vision into the present day.

Zulfa 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.”

Zulfa’s formal career as an artist started out when she joined the Kalba Art Center 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, Zulfa 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.

Zulfa 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, specializing in Naskhand Thuluth, Zulfa 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, Zulfa 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, Zulfa was an award-winner in the 2020 Lean Six Sigma Technical Paper Competition, organized by the Industrial Engineering and Operations Management Society. Since graduating, Zulfa 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, Zulfa 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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About RIT Dubai

Established in 2008, RIT Dubai is a not-for-profit global campus of the esteemed Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, one of the world’s leading technological-focused universities with a storied 185 year history. Entering its next stage of growth in the region, RIT Dubai is now operating from phase one of its new $136 million state-of-the-art campus development, which will provide interactive learning space set over 129,000 square meters.

RIT Dubai offers highly valued Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in business and leadership, engineering, and computing. The curriculum provides students with relevant work experience through an innovative cooperative education program that helps students stand out in today’s highly competitive job market. RIT Dubai offers American degrees, and all of RIT’s programs are UAE Ministry accredited. Students of RIT Dubai also have the unique opportunity to choose to study abroad at the main campus in New York or at one of its other global campuses.

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