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Bilim Atli-Veltin - Leading women in technology #2

Bilim Atli-Veltin
Research scientist, TNO – Structural Dynamics

Bilim is ‘TNO’s Young Excellent Researcher of the year 2018’. Her research area is on the use of novel materials and structures in challenging conditions and applications such as storage of liquid hydrogen. She has received her PhD on improving energy absorption of lightweight honeycomb structures. Her father must have had the foresight of his daughter becoming a successful scientist. Bilim literally means ‘science’ in Turkish.

Bilim studied Aeronautical Engineering at Istanbul Technical University and The Pennsylvania State University.

Were you a girl who played with Lego instead of dolls?

I am not sure if there was much Lego in 1980s Turkey. In my opinion, children need to know that they can be whatever they want, no matter what their favorite color, music band or toy is. But as early as I can remember, I was always amazed by fighter jets. I always had good grades at school and was particularly interested in mathematics and science.

Why did you choose this field of expertise?

My father has the greatest influence on my choices in life. He was a professor in fluid dynamics. Growing up I used to spend a significant amount of time at the laboratory where he would be running experiments studying airflow around a conical jet nose at supersonic speeds. I believe this is where my fascination in aeronautics started. At the end of high school, I decided to choose this as my future technical field. I am still very happy to have made that choice.

"With hard work and resilience, you can overcome all the obstacles, one by one."

What have been your biggest challenges so far?
And how did you overcome them?

Sure, I had difficulties, though I wouldn’t call them challenges. I spent many nights studying until sunrise. My parents valued education more than anything. Having people around who believe in you and support you gives you the biggest boost. I have had the opportunity to receive the best education from the best institutes. Later in life, my self-confidence helped me get to where I am now. I believe that with hard work and resilience, you can overcome all the obstacles, one by one.

What are you most proud of?

I am pretty determined to lift up my female colleagues. I listen to them and encourage them. There are definitely not enough women in the technical fields, so it is certainly important to acknowledge the added value of the women in the teams. Therefore, I am especially proud to be the ‘Young Excellent Researcher of the year’ at TNO and that I was invited to talk at the Female Tech Heroes event so I could empower other women, and be a role model.

How is your field of expertise going to change our future?

At TNO, I am a structural expert, focusing on the Energy, Infrastructure and Maritime & Offshore domain. There are 17 ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ that are defined by the United Nations (UN). These goals are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. My department is contributing to at least eight of them, for example: affordable and clean energy, sustainable cities and communities and climate actions. With every research project, innovation and implementation, we get one step closer to achieving these goals. One of my research area is in the field of liquid hydrogen infrastructure. I believe that safe and robust solutions in this area will pave the way to reliable renewable energy and a CO2-free future.

Looking back, what would be your advice to your 18-year old self?

Everything I have done in my past has brought me to where I am now and I am very blessed with what I have got. I would not change anything. I would advise my 18-year old self to keep going. Considering that 18 is the age when high school students choose their higher education fields, I would encourage others to get to know companies and investigate what a certain job entails, or to talk to the professors at the technical universities. I would advise, girls in particular, to select a STEM field: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The future needs diverse teams to enrich the creativity, and use the full potential of the new generations.

>> Watch the panel discussion at Female Tech Heroes event Bilim participated in - May, 2019

Read more personal stories from women in technology:

This interview and its contents are on no account associated with the existing or any future relationship with TMC. It aims to inspire women in technology and came about in collaboration with High Tech Campus Eindhoven and the Female Tech Heroes Network.

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