Leading up to International Women in Engineering Day (INWED 2019) on Sunday, June 23, 2019, we are highlighting several SWE Members and Affiliates around the world who are working to advance STEM and champion diversity in the engineering industry. Here, we highlight SWE Member Suchismita Sanyal of Bengaluru, India.
Engineers have a huge role to play in transforming the future of the world. How do you plan to transform the future?
As a Materials Engineer, I look at the world evolving along with the materials of that time: from the Stone Ages, Bronze Age and the Iron Age to the age of Steel, and now to polymers and composites and beyond. Materials in current use have been developed to optimize their performance. I would like to imagine a future by bringing in materials that are high performing and at the same time are environmentally sustainable and have a positive societal impact during manufacturing and consumption. These materials are going to transform our future in all sectors: from energy & environment to transportation; from healthcare to food packaging and cleaner water. Integrating advanced computational and digital tools with conventional materials chemistry and physics knowledge would help us realize this future, faster.
How do you think engineering can help create a better, more promising future?
What I love about engineering is the application of knowledge into practice. In the words of my favorite engineer and artist, Leonardo Da Vinci: “I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” It is this urgency of making a change in our surroundings, in our society that makes engineering a formidable force towards transforming our future. Whether it be disruptive engineering of changing the face of transportation via levitation, or frugal engineering in using a bike-powered washing machine, engineering innovations have led to a better quality of life.
“I believe that in the coming days, be it on improving energy access, human connectivity, clean water or improved healthcare for all, engineering—used responsibly—would pave the way for providing a better and promising future for all.”
– Suchismita Sanyal
What inspired your interest in engineering?
My uncle was a civil engineer with expertise in bridge designs, and I grew up being surrounded with large blueprints of designs sprawled across our large tables. It was fascinating for me to see my uncle create magnificent bridges connecting people and societies, starting with something on paper. The scale inspired me, as did the enormity of the positive impact that engineering has on society. On the other side at the home front, both my parents were inorganic chemists, so science was always in our discussions.
What kind of engineer are you? Walk us through a “day in the life” of your engineering discipline.
I am a Materials Engineer by training, and currently lead a very talented team of computational researchers, working on exciting problems ranging from designing catalysts for making better chemicals to designing the next generation fuels for Motorsport, or batteries for energy storage. The team is extremely multidisciplinary in nature with chemists, mechanical & chemical engineers, computer scientists coming together towards transforming the future, thereby giving me an opportunity to learn every moment as I interact with each of them! A typical day consists of discussions around ongoing projects around the themes described above. What is also incredibly exciting is scoping out new projects with businesses, understanding the application opportunities of our deep domain knowledge in an industrial setting as well as interacting with our external collaboration partners in academia to keep us abreast with cutting edge technologies.
Is your SWE section or employer doing any outreach activities in the next month or so you’d like to share?
In an attempt to bring back women on a career break, we have recently launched the program Project Re-energize, which is a fantastic platform to bring back talent to the workforce in an inclusive way.
Do you have any words of advice to young girls who are hoping to #TransformTheFuture with a career in engineering?
The 3 pieces of advice I would like to give to young girls:
- Dream big and imagine the future.
- Break it down to small, manageable tasks and keep improvising as you keep learning more.
- Believe in yourself and your dreams, irrespective of what anyone or any situation tells you.