30 May 2023
7x the Region in JUNE
- Regio Deal Brainport Eindhoven
In Brainport Eindhoven we change the world because here we develop key technologies that change society. We can only do that because of our pioneers. Therefore, meet one of our pioneers: Elmira Drost.
My name is Elmira Drost and I’m 21 years old. I'm originally from Ede, but I've been living in rooms in Eindhoven since the first year of my studies.
I am now in the third year of my bachelor Computer Science at Fontys. There I study ICT & Infrastructure with the Cyber Security specialism. At Fontys ICT you can choose from five main directions. I opted for ICT & Infrastructure. I’m involved with everything behind the application, such as the servers that run programs, the network, so that there is a secure internet connection. I also specialize in cyber security, where I make sure everything is safe so that there can be no hacking, for example.
When I was in high school, I had the choice to get into ICT and I thought 'Why not? I'll just try it.' I never saw myself working in IT, but then I liked it. Then I started looking at follow up courses and chose to study ICT and Media Management in Arnhem. The fashion or make-up industry – really quite the opposite – also seemed like a lot of fun, but in the end, I thought about the job opportunities and then I thought I could at least try to get an ICT degree.
"I thought about the job opportunities and then I thought I could at least try to get an ICT degree."
If I liked it I would just keep going and if not I would stop. I started my first education when I was just 16, so I still had a whole life ahead for me to choose.
I found ICT very interesting. During my ICT courses back in high school, we all had different aspects of ICT and then I wanted to delve further into it. At the time, I had an intake interview and it was indicated that there weren't that many girls. They asked me if I was sure I could handle it. So I wanted to show that women can also achieve something in ICT.
After my secondary vocational education, I wanted to continue my studies in the cyber security aspect and that is how I ended up at ICT & Infrastructure with a specialism in Cyber Security at Fontys. I chose cyber security because with my knowledge I want to do something useful for others. I enjoy helping others and cyber security gives me a good feeling to offer others safety.
I had the choice between Amsterdam and Eindhoven. In Amsterdam, I felt like a tourist. Eindhoven is big, but it doesn't feel that way. I like that. I have attended an open day and an experience day at almost every university of applied sciences to be able to make a good choice.
In the beginning, it took some time to get used to, but in the end, I was one of the guys. I had female friends who followed studies in the healthcare sector with only girls and that was just drama and hassle. I had no drama at all, I had a quiet life. I was enjoying studying. I didn't have much to worry about. The boys were on the same level as me, so that was nice. It had quite a few benefits. It was a lot quieter.
At the moment I don't see myself doing a master's that quickly. When I'm done, I have studied for 7 years and I think that's enough. Maybe if I do a part-time master's degree in cyber security while I'm at work, but not yet.
For Vitalis in Eindhoven, we made a kind of digital tour for new residents, so that they get to know the building very well. It is a maze. The idea is that the elderly can scan a QR code and then they will see a video about that specific point. For example, they learn about the opening hours of the reception and a piece of history behind it.
The elderly were also eager to learn how to use QR codes. Some were already very enthusiastically walking around with their smartphones. And those who couldn't manage were able to sign up for a buddy to do the tour together. Those QR codes have also been put on a paper map, so that the residents can also scan it at home, or, for example, could give it to their family to show how they live.
In addition to the technology that the QR codes are developed and that they can be scanned, there are also aspects to consider that there are videos connected to them and that privacy must be guaranteed.
I did this project for the research group, next to the normal curriculum. At the time, I was asked by a teacher to participate in the project, because he did not have time for it himself. I just wanted something extra besides doing my studies because of course, it looks good on your resume. And during my normal curriculum, I found myself getting through the material very quickly, so it was a nice extra challenge. I could also work on my professional skills and that was nice to be able to show at school.
"I just wanted something extra besides doing my studies because of course, it looks good on your resume. And during my normal curriculum, I found myself getting through the material very quickly, so it was a nice extra challenge. I could also work on my professional skills and that was nice to be able to show at school."
I also did a project called Mega Project. This is an international project with various universities and colleges about sustainability. Then we had to work in a team to see how we could improve waste processing in Africa with technology. We would then make a smart bin, in which all the waste would automatically be properly recycled. Discussions will be held with the African municipalities to see whether this pilot will be continued.
I'm in the excellence program. Within this program, I can do projects for companies. This allows me to demonstrate study components. As a result, I don't have to do some things twice; I then get an exemption for specific assignments. But because I do a lot in those projects, I get an exemption for everything.
I work here with students from different grades and directions. You then make a total picture together. I mainly work with internationals a lot. Then you work entirely in English and that took some getting used to in the beginning. Eventually, it will come naturally. At times I notice that the Dutch are very direct and that the internationals are quite indirect. I also notice that the Dutch take a little more initiative when I look at the internationals I’ve worked with. However, they are often less stressful and we can learn something from that.
I have been a PR employee of Fontys ICT since September 2019 as a side job. There are quite a few girls who are also on this PR team. But I am the only girl from our main school.
There are many different functions that I can perform. For example, I can work on risk analysis, I can become an ethical hacker… After my training, I want to work for the police or defence. Then I work in the safe Netherlands. For example, what I find very interesting is especially towards cyber warfare. If there is a war, it will focus on technology. Then I want to make sure that the Netherlands is in a good and safe state.
"I want to make sure that the Netherlands is in a good and safe state."
That it can’t be hacked. You have to think of large organizations that store a lot of personal data, electricity networks or the hospital.
What's especially important to me is that others don't look down on women so much. That still happens a lot in IT. I still notice that as a girl I am seen as someone who doesn't get it.
I also think it’s important to enjoy going to work. I'd rather earn less and enjoy going to work than earn more and don't feel like working. So I want a good working ambience with nice colleagues.
During my study, I’m offered many different opportunities here. I didn't expect that at other schools. I’m part of the Fontys excellence program and I do projects for companies there. So I don't do fictitious assignments. I find that especially very interesting.
"I don't do fictitious assignments. I find that especially very interesting."
It doesn't feel like I live in a big city here. Everything is so close. I feel very much at home here, because it is not large-scale here. I also live in a suburb and I don't feel like I live in such a big city at all.
What I always say to everyone: accept everyone for who they are. Even though I'm at university, I shouldn't look down on secondary vocational education graduates. That does happen a lot now. I am very sorry about that. I once was one of them myself and then there were also university graduates who said that we couldn't do anything. Again, accept everyone for who they are. And when others say you can't do something, just show that you can!