Mariam Sheriff is the round head in the square hole, from mastering mechanical engineering textbooks to penning her own novel.

Mariam graduated with a 52884WA Advanced Diploma of Mechanical Engineering Technology from EIT 2020, inspired by how machines work. And it’s her keen eye for details that ensured her first novel The Deep: A Tale Beyond the Waves was published in 2022.

Image Supplied: Mariam Sheriff

Her accomplishment as an engineering graduate and author has been at the forefront of her life assimilation.

I have been always fascinated by machines and how they reshaped our lives. Studying Mechanical engineering offered me the opportunity to fully understand the complexity and beauty of human innovation in designing that equipment that redefined possibilities,” explains the young author.

The Deep: A Tale Beyond the Waves tells the story of protagonist Stanley who leaves the world to explore the depths of the ocean.

The genre-bending work features Stanley’s mysterious past who has to connect the dots of his life in an underwater world filled with marine creatures that set the background for an adventure of self-discovery.

The story is about a man who discovered a whole city under the ocean, and his journey to uncover the mysteries of this place and its inhabitants. The plot takes place in real habitats under the ocean, thus blending fiction and reality in one anecdote. I took a lot of time researching and studying ocean life to be able to create a story that would take the reader into a fictional world that takes place in an existing rarely seen realm,” explains Mariam.

While the setting and genre seem different from that a mechanical engineer would labor over, from Mariam’s perspective it makes sense how she chose the ocean for her writing debut.

Within engineering hydraulics and sustainable energy has particular interest for this EIT alumni.

It made me aware of the role of engineering in changing our world, and providing solutions for sustainable clean energy, thus, creating the perfect balance between working on our own prosperity while preserving our planet’s resources and eco-system,” she muses.

The knowledge that’s already permeating her life.

I am working as an engineer. And I am planning to apply the skills I gained in this profession to endorse clean energy resources solution, and to help citizens in developing countries to learn and utilize affordable and feasible energy resources to enhance their living conditions.”

The Deep book cover. Picture: Supplied

It’s impressive to think she completed an Advanced Diploma in the midst of this writing exercise since the story was already in formulation since 2014.

I started to grow more serious about this project 5 years ago. I did a lot of research about different ocean depths and zones, along with studying different marine animals, and plants. This is the reason why it took me that long to complete the story. Because I wanted to avoid inaccuracies as much as possible,” says Mariam.

According to the engineer and author, she started writing when she was around 10. Since then she honed her skills to enrich her vocabulary in Arabic and English. She also focused on learning the descriptive language.

It serves the purpose to be able to reach two distinct audiences and even different cultures thanks to her bilingual proficiency.

I started writing at a very young age, around 10 years old. I honed my skills throughout the years. And enriched my vocabulary in descriptive writing both in my language and in English, in order to be able to reach a wider audience across other cultures.”

Being part of an international student body during her studies likely also helped, as it offered even more ways to connect with the world.

My experience with EIT was life-changing. EIT provides revolutionary learning methods, which gives students the opportunity to learn and thrive no matter where they are in the world and how busy their schedule is.”

According to her studies aside it took some time to be ready to hit publish on her debut novel.

When I was able to finish a story that I am sure would make a reader enjoy, learn from, and hopefully laugh at some humorous parts of it, that’s when I was ready to become a published author.”

But with a love of knowledge and the capacity to weave tales rooted in engineering -we have a feeling Mariam is just starting life as an author and an engineer.

Mariam in a nutshell

What role does your family play not only in you being a novelist but also when you studied?

My family is very supportive of me, my father always encouraged me to decide my own path in life, growing up, he would buy me many books written by different prominent authors. This helped me gain a lot of experience with different cultures and styles of writing.

What do you like to read? Do you have a favorite genre?

Horror! Especially if it’s well written. A great horror author can change his/her reader’s heartbeats rate with mere words.

What is your advice to engineers or engineering students that also have other passions, like writing, perhaps even sport?

I advise them to follow their passion so they can be a successful engineer and still make time for their hobbies on the side.

Why do you think it is important to study and have a qualification behind your name?

Because an educated mind is a healthy mind. Having a qualification and knowledge is a very powerful aspect of human life. And it sets any person for success in any path they choose.

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Engineering Institute of Technology