NSERC Chair for
Women in Science & Engineering

Mozhdeh Shahbazi

Dr. Mozhdeh Shahbazi

I found my path to successful life only when I ended my fears and low self-confidence.

Assistant Professor, Geomatics Engineering
University of Calgary

Dr. Mozhdeh Shahbazi received her BSc degree in civil/surveying engineering in 2009, and her MSc degree in geomatics/photogrammetry engineering in 2011. Her master’s research was focused on developing a terrestrial mobile mapping system equipped with range and visible cameras. During her master's program, she worked as part-time survey engineer in private industry. Her PhD research at the Department of Applied Geomatics, Université de Sherbrooke, Canada, was focused on the development of unmanned aerial systems for precise three-dimensional modeling of environment. In 2014, she joined the Geospatial Information and Communication Technology Lab at York University. She was lecturer at College of Chicoutimi, Canada, in 2015. She was also working as a geomatics researcher at Centre de géomatique du Québec, from 2014 to 2016.

As an academic, what is your favourite part of your job?

I love supervising undergraduate and graduate students. Knowing that I can contribute to their academic and professional life in a positive way is a great feeling. Also, a part of teaching is very good too - whenever I see a sign of happiness in students' eyes because they just learnt something new and amazing!

What are you researching and what excites you about it?

My current research program is mainly involved with the development of vision-guided, intelligent unmanned systems and their applications in geomatics. Everything about unmanned systems is exciting: from their development (stages of sensor integration at lab) to their applications (going to different fields for data acquisition and coming back to office with a huge amount of data to process).

What types of professions can students graduating in your field enter?

The knowledge and technical skills that the students will acquire through my research program will allow them to design, develop and operate geo-spatial technologies that are of great interest in different areas of Canadian / International geomatics industry. These areas of expertise include the following: integrating modern photogrammetry and remote-sensing sensors to various platforms such as UAVs; designing reliable techniques of robotic navigation and mission planning; developing and applying methods of photogrammetric computer vision for various mapping, inspection and monitoring applications; conducting systematic experiments and creating benchmarks for evaluation purposes.

Is your workplace male-dominated? If so, how do you negotiate being a woman in a male-dominated workplace and/or field?

If male-domination means that the number of male colleagues and students is more than female ones, then yes my field is male dominated. I don't really care about the gender of my colleagues, collaborators or students. As long as "respect" rules over every other way of treating and thinking, there is absolutely no problem.

How do you foster and encourage diversity in your workplace?

I believe "diversity" is meaningless when you look at every body the same way regardless of their gender, race, appearance, religion and so on. All that matters to me when selecting my lab members is their professional attitude (like how good they are as team players, how respectful they are, how self-motivated they are, etc) and of course their technical abilities (how knowledgeable they are, and how well their background fits to my research projects).

What kinds of systemic support could institutions provide to help encourage girls and women to pursue careers in science and engineering?

I love the WISE events and supports that UCalgary provides. I haven't seen much of the same activities in my previous universities. CyberMentor is also a great occasion.

What advice would you give to girls or young women who are interested in careers in science or engineering?

Pursue your career aspirations! Believe that the fact that you are a woman cannot affect your success in any negative way if you don't allow it to do so! I found my path to successful life only when I ended my fears and low self-confidence.

As a professional in science or engineering, who are your role models and mentors?

In general, several great professors from Canada, Germany and Iran are my role models; they have all helped me a lot to orient my goals. I have a great role model and a wonderful mentor at UCalgary too.