This start-up founder wants to help her fellow Pakistanis realize their full potential
Samia Subhan Qureshi is committed to finding efficient energy solutions for her country so that everyone can realize their full potential.
Samia is from Bannu in the Bannu District in southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. She currently lives in Peshawar where she is pursuing a master’s degree in the USPCAS-E Electrical Energy Systems Engineering program at the University of Engineering and Technology (UET) Peshawar. She learned about USPCAS-E while pursuing her bachelor’s degree at UET Peshawar after attending a workshop organized by USPCAS-E.
Samia was part of the last cohort of USPCAS-E exchange scholars to visit the U.S. in spring 2019. She conducted her research at ASU’s Photovoltaic Reliability Lab (PRL-ASU).
When asked to describe the importance of her research, Samia explained: “According to Dr. Govindasamy Tamizhmani (founder of PRL-ASU), if the concept that I used in my research is implemented in real-time calculations, it will change the solar photovoltaic industry.”
She says that by eliminating the use of pyranometers, pyrheliometers and two-axis trackers for an outdoor angle of incidence (AOI) measurement, their proposed model offers a cost-effective outdoor AOI measurement. This new method combines attributes of older models through an AOI correction model that accounts for direct as well as diffuse light.
Samia is also one of the founders of a solar startup, the GreenWend Company.
“I want to promote clean energy solutions in my country. On the way back to Pakistan from the U.S., I realized that my passion for contributing some benefit to society and playing a positive role had increased. Because of my exchange experience, I realized that if you don’t get your basic needs met, you might survive, but will not live your life in a meaningful way. Many people are suffering from power outages and load shedding and they can neither run their businesses in a proper way nor light up their homes.”
During her exchange experience, Samia participated in entrepreneurship training. Entrepreneurship instructor Ken Mulligan tells the exchange scholars that Pakistan needs to move beyond being a nation of job seekers to become a nation of job creators, advice that Samia took to heart.
“After my arrival back to Pakistan in May 2019, I thought that if I just sat and waited for a job then I would become a part of a problem. Instead, I decided that I should take the initiative and become a part of a solution!”
She started GreenWend with other energy engineers. She says that her USPCAS-E experiences played an important role in enabling her to think like an entrepreneur.
Samia also completed an internship at PTCL Peshawar, a telecommunications company, where she worked in the switching center.
From a very young age, Samia says that she “loved to play with equations.” She explains, “My favorite subject was mathematics and I always succeeded in getting the highest grade.”
Growing up, she realized that many people didn’t consider women for technical or field work.
“I wanted to break this stereotype. My family gave me an open choice for selecting any field and luckily, I am the first female engineer of my family. I always find it fun working in the field.”
Samia noticed many small differences between Pakistan and the U.S. during her exchange experience but she also realized the potential in her home country.
“I just felt that if they can be so much ahead in technologies, then why can’t we? There is no difference between people when they are born. It’s just that how they utilize their energy. Without proper management, nothing can be successful.”
During her exchange visit in the U.S., Samia lost her mom. Samia beautifully describes mothers as “the precious gem in every human being’s life.”
She said her father was her biggest supporter during this difficult time.
“It was a really hard time for me being away from my family. But my father was my greatest supporter, as always. He encouraged me to complete my research at ASU and guided me to make every decision calmly. I learned that if God gives us hard times, He also gives us the power to get through the situation.”
Samia also expressed gratitude for the support from her fiancé, Zeeshan Saeed Shah, a USPCAS-E scholar from the spring 2018 cohort who offered guidance on selecting a lab and strategies for their startup.
Five years from now, Samia hopes to see her start-up among the top companies of Pakistan. She says acknowledges that there are initial challenges with startups and sometimes big risks, but she is ready for the challenge.
“I strongly believe that hard work will always pay off,” she explains.