Many would say it takes a lot to become a robotics programmer, and I’m here to tell you that it’s true. I’ve learned a lot these past two years, and I’m proud to say I’ve become the first robotics programmer in Bahrain. Let me take you through my journey.

It was the middle of August 2018, and all I could think of was a way of trying something new and to escape my comfort zone no matter what the consequences were. I always wanted to build a brand out of my name, where I would have a presence within the community of my respective discipline.

A month later, as I was embarking on my final semester at Bahrain Polytechnic, and joined as a Project Intern at the Bahrain Islamic Bank, I was asked to develop an information and communication technology solution as part of my graduation project.

September 16, 2018 was the day I woke up and decided to make things right and fulfill my dream. I realized that if I dedicated the following three months to a unique project, I will be able to put myself at least two to three years ahead. I headed to work highly inspired and motivated. As soon as I entered BisB’s innovation lab, my eyes fell on the robot and I was fully determined to develop an innovative concept to take the robot to a whole new level.

As a result, I was requested to produce a project proposal and to pitch my idea to two of my mentors at BisB; Mr. Abdulsalam Alasaadi and Ms. Asma Alsayed. Fortunately a week later, I was able to convince both my mentors that the proposed ICT solution was viable and that it would be of a great success. Both BisB mentors and Bahrain Polytechnic supervisor; Mr. Ali Shahbaz were more than happy to sign off my project proposal, and I was ready to begin my journey.

Throughout the project implementation phase, I faced numerous challenges in terms of lack of knowledge in the robotics field and system bugs. This setback led me to investigate and perform a lot of research, including reaching out to experts outside of Bahrain and register in online courses. This has not only sharpened my technical skills but also my interpersonal and employability skills.

Time was a huge factor, for within the three months I had to learn two new programming languages, integrate three different cloud services, Amazon Web Services cloud infrastructure, and robotics development. The robotics development included configuring sensors for physical interaction, embedding voice recognition features and managing speech dialogue, thus, simplifying the process for BisB customers.  

Although the timeline was very tight, I managed to dedicate these three months to the project. Since September 2018 till January 2019, I had no social life at all, and was both mentally and physically drained but I knew I was working towards something bigger and better so it was all worth it. There were days where I had to wake up at 4 am to check whether I’ve received any emails from the manufacturer or the experts that I was in contact with, due to time differences.

Upon the launch of the project, a lot of people questioned me about how and why I decided to pursue a project in the robotics field. One of the significant motives behind being the executor of BisB AI-Agent, was to shed light on Bahrain’s youth and show specific enterprises that they are fully capable of handling and implementing sizeable operative projects.

The AI-Agent replicated a real-life customer service employee at BisB that can assist customers with any inquiries, complaints, or questions they may have about the bank’s services.

I wanted to pursue this project to show that Bahraini graduates are fully capable of getting the job done and exceed expectations. Many companies in Bahrain tend to recruit individuals with a minimum of 2-3 years of work experience. Whereas, they often overlook the certainty that the merge among fresh graduates and companies could lead to a two-way benefit as it identifies gaps in the market and enables youth to innovate because they are both technically and commercially minded.

Long story short, I realized that with hard work comes satisfaction, because after these three months of hustle, I was interviewed by almost all newspapers within the Kingdom of Bahrain and on a talk-show hosted on Bahrain TV. To me, this was more than enough.

I understood that it’s never too late to start over and that your grades do not determine who you are. My dad and mom always told me: “Work hard and people/companies will find you”.

Never allow anyone to underestimate your capabilities and keep following your dreams. Even if you fail once, twice, and thrice, you’ll eventually make it at the end. And every single time you think of giving up, just remember why you started!

Shaima Almeer

Shaima Almeer

Shaima Almeer is a Google Developer Group Manama co-Organizer and a Bahrain Polytechnic Information & Communication Technology graduate. She is the first Bahraini woman who has programmed a robot for Bahrain Islamic Bank. Shaima has won an award for Promotion of the year, and when she is not dabbling with the latest tech she is busy running both her online businesses in Retail and Confectionary.

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