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Q&A with Nikita Tiwari, SWE President of Detroit Section

Check out the interview below with Nikita Tiwari, Lead Platform Application Engineer, and President SWE – Detroit Section, to learn more about her experiences and how you can #BeThatEngineer! 
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What is your favorite thing about your current job and what do you find the most challenging? 

 I am a Lead Platform Application Engineer in the automotive section, and it requires a lot of interaction with customers. Working with customers is completely different as you are not in your comfort zone. There are instances when a critical issue with the product has the customer stop their shipment. The dynamic nature of my job whether to fix such issues over the air through a software update or to carry out a more rigorous hardware fix is the most challenging part. Engaging with the customers and meeting their expectations is something that excites me a lot about my role. Not everyone would love this kind of a job, some may prefer a rather seamless job but for me this is exactly what makes it interesting. 

 As educators, what can we do and how can we inspire the next generation of women in science? 

 I strongly believe that “You can’t be it, if you can’t see it”. Having more diverse examples                          in the field would make the next generation aware of the different paths that they could potentially pursue. Organizations like SWE do a really good job to demonstrates to the world what a day in the life of an engineer looks like. These would allow the young minds, thinking of pursuing STEM, and opportunity to make a calculated decision. It is difficult and it requires a lot of hard work, but it does pays off. 

 What advice would you give to other women leaders about the best way to manage a large team?  

I have had the experience of managing small teams indirectly in my role as a Technical Lead. I feel, communication is the key, and it should be two-way. Managers should discuss employee’s personal and career growth as much as the work-related updates. Trust the employee and allow them the flexibility. Also, what’s important is to always make sure that the employee feels challenged enough in the role and create new opportunities for them, so they enjoy what they are doing.  

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards or who helped get you to where you are? 

There are so many people who stood with me in each phase of my life. But the roots are always stronger, and it was my parents. My dad didn’t speak English, but in order to get me into an English-speaking school (only to increase my global opportunities in future) he took it upon himself to learn English first. By doing so he gave me a very important life lesson that if we put our mind onto something, anything is possible! I went ahead to become a first-generation college graduate and a first-generation engineer in my family. There were several others that helped me on the way, and I made sure to keep that mentorship alive with them in some form or other. 

What inspires you in the workplace? 

Intel has a lot of smart people who are very invested in the success of the organization. Another thing that they whole heartedly work towards is to support each other. From a VP to almost anyone else, here at Intel, people are willing to share their knowledge and help you. We leverage from each other and that really makes Intel a great place to work that it is. 

Why do you mentor a lot of students? 

I personally did not have any formal mentors growing up who could help me navigate STEM education but once I started my career, I have had many mentors, sponsors and influencers along the way. I could first-hand witness the world of difference it creates from having your own sounding board. This truly compels me to make this my responsibility; to be that mentor I wish I had. 

Do you have a mentor or a friend who inspires you? 

There have “A LOT” of mentors along the way but if I were to pick one peer mentor, it would have to be my close friend, Neerja. We completed undergrad together and later did our master’s together as well. She was the one who encouraged me to study abroad when I didn’t even think of that being a possibility both economically and emotionally. With absolutely no family background of higher education, the guidance I received from her throughout the process was crucial.  We did end up in the same university too. I’d say that she was the one who sowed that seed in me. 

What advice would you give to women who are 1) Curious about STEM, 2) Questioning their STEM related studies, 3) Questioning their STEM related career? 

  1.  Try it to know it. Talk to people who have already done it which will allow you to learn from their journey. 
  2. A lot of hard work combined with even more smart work. Rely on your resources and mentors and use them as your sounding board. You can get through it together. 
  3. You don’t need to know 100% of the job otherwise you are not learning. You come in knowing 60% and the rest you figure out on the job. Once you feel you know everything about it, it’s time to get on another adventure. 

It is okay for you to keep questioning when things are completely ambiguous and that is exactly what makes it challenging and exciting to go explore. This is how you grow as a person and as a professional. 

“I have been a person of breadth. I have ventured different industrial segments, but my core/depth has always remained constant which is cameras and image processing. I would say that in the early phase of your career, focus more on depth and as you grow concentrate on breadth. Be adaptable and flexible.” 



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  • Swetha Manickavasagam

    Swetha Manickavasagam is a Master's student in Electrical Engineering at Arizona State University, SWE FY22 Global Ambassador and a SWE Leadership Development Program Recipient for FY22 . She graduated from R.M.K.Engineering College (Anna University) in 2020 with her bachelor’s in Electronics and Communications Engineering.