Oluwaseun (Shay) Falade, 29 – FUNDED

“The difference between an excellent and an average person is consistency,” says Oluwaseun (Shay) Falade . For her, that means “consistently putting in the extra effort, consistently staying motivated, consistently keeping focus on her goal, and consistently praying to God.”

With a proven track record of great academic success and a strong desire to use her skillset and expertise to improve — both theoretically and with hands-on experience using the research track — she is confident of her dreams to make an exceptional contribution to the world of tech.

“My subsequent goal would be to have a research center with world-class researchers in tech that provide quality solutions for electrical problems ranging from vehicular communications technology, bionic limbs (exoskeletons, prosthetics) for people with stroke and motor disadvantages, to human-robotics interactions, all while partnering with various organizations to actualize the need for these technologies both in developing countries and the world at large — thus hopefully improving the quality of human life,” she added.

This New Face of Tech winner has an undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Lagos Nigeria and a master’s degree in Advanced Control and Systems Engineering. She is currently carrying out research at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in the field of Telecommunications Engineering, where she is exploring ways to “integrate Machine Learning with 6G Wireless Systems with a focus on Vehicular Communications and ADAS Technology, using millimeter Wave and MIMO technologies to analyze antenna propagation.”

What does being the New Face of Tech mean to you?

It means breaking barriers in a world that has built invisible limitations for us — the minority, the colored, and the female in tech.

Being the New Face of Tech gives me a platform to address the need to create and sustain bridges between science and society — especially the female society — in a world where gender and color bias cuts across all fields of engineering and where a female’s dream is particularly downplayed because of her gender.

Being given an opportunity like this enables me to transfer insightful knowledge to young girls that have a flair for science and engineering, instilling confidence and enthusiasm in them.

I will be a role model not only for every female interested in STEM majors but also for others already in STEM fields, allowing them to find strength in their gender, color, and diverse backgrounds and letting them know they can do anything they want — giving them wings to fly as high as it takes them.

Women are underrepresented in STEAM. How can we change this?

We need more mentors who are high-achieving to be a shoulder to lean on — not just professionally, but also as a friend who has gone through the hard work of facing challenges both at home and at work. This will help us know potential challenges in our field and give us tips and tricks on how to bypass the noise.

We need a tribe of women in tech to keep us motivated even when we lack it.

We need events that will give us opportunities to hear the stories of others who have faced hurdles but still scaled through them, so we can stay positive, motivated, confident, and consistent in our paths to achieving excellence.

What are some of the challenges you have faced along the way?

I experienced a lot of culture shock and gender bias, and it was hard for me to stay motivated and positive. I was sidelined and second-guessed a lot because I am female. My opinion was always the backup plan when the plans of a male engineer didn’t work.

In situations when I was even more experienced and my solution was correct, it wasn’t taken seriously until all other areas had been explored, which could have de-motivated and reduced my self-confidence.

How do you stay motivated and focused on your goals?

I take it a day at a time and I look back at how far I have come. I know my strength brought me here, so I keep going, knowing my value and worth also helped.

Also, I read books, attend seminars with other high-achieving females in tech, and learn from their experiences. It helps me to know my experience isn’t peculiar to me and I am not alone when I listen in and use their experiences, learn from them, and apply them to my own journey.

How will funding from the 1,000 Dreams Fund and HARMAN help you reach your goals?

I will be able to use the funds for up-skilling my coding abilities and my knowledge in the field of automation, which will allow me to achieve my future research goals — which are important in a fast-changing world like ours. I will also pay for my remaining school fees, as I am funding myself partially.