From helping rescue teams through the rubble of the World Trade Centre after 9/11 to developing hospitals in Tanzania Asha Devi has enjoyed a distinguished and wide ranging career as a structural engineer.

She has also worked on the transformation of modern Birmingham, from the regeneration of Brindleyplace during the 1990s to the transformation of Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

And now the Handsworth born and bred engineer, who has worked with Arup around the world since 1992, is hoping to inspire more young girls to follow careers in science and engineering.

She will also be appearing alongside many other high achieving women from Birmingham, including global campaigner Malala Yousafzai and trade unionist Jessie Eden, appearing in a new book Once Upon A Time in Birmingham: Women who Dared to Dream which is published next month.

Asha said: “As a Brummie I’m very proud of these women and to be part of the book with them.”

Asha Devi

After attending Holte School and Matthew Boulton College she studied engineering at the University of Birmingham and from there joined Arup with who she has worked for 27 years. During the 1990s she worked on projects in Brindleyplace and the HSBC Bank building at Canary Wharf.

She said: “I started life here as an engineer in Birmingham and have travelled across the globe.”

One such posting was in the New York office where on September 11, 2001 along with colleagues she volunteered to help with the search and rescue mission following the collapse of the Twin Towers. It was the engineers’ role to highlight possible problems and plot safe routes for the emergency services through the rubble.

“A number of us went in to try and help find the way through a very difficult disaster zone in downtown Manhattan. As engineers we were trying very much to support the authorities and the community to tackle such a devastating incident.

Rescue workers sift through the wreckage of the World Trade Center two days after the 9/11 attack

“We were addressing how to safely access the site, safely remove the debris as well as thinking about the future.”

The Mayor of New York wrote a thank you letter to everyone involved in the rescue effort.

Asha was then part of the team who worked on the strategy for the rebuilding of the Ground Zero site including the memorial and museum.

She has recently been designing hospitals, health centres and schools - including working with a not for profit organisation on a maternity hospital in Tanzania. “I have really enjoyed the experience, its been an opportunity to see the world.”

Cllr Brigid Jones with Asha Devi

And now there is a focus on encouraging more young people, especially girls, to take the science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects.

Birmingham City Council’s deputy leader, Cllr Brigid Jones – who herself was a physicist before entering full time politics - chose to champion Asha as one of the 30 women profiled in the book .

Cllr Jones said: “Engineers and scientists change the world and Asha has had an incredible career working on some most iconic projects, not just in Birmingham but around the world.

“Her work in the World Trade Center after the atrocities there was truly staggering and to be recognised by the mayor of New York in the way that she has been deserves recognition in her home city too.”

Once Upon A Time In Birmingham: Women Who Dared To Dream will be available to purchase from Saturday, October 13 at Foyles Birmingham and Waterstones Birmingham (Bullring) for £14.99.

The book is available for pre-order at The Emma Press and online.

Tickets (£3) are still available for the book launch on Saturday, October 13 at the Birmingham Literature Festival .