We are approaching International Women in Engineering Day, a day dedicated to celebrating the outstanding achievements of women engineers across the globe and encouraging the growth of women in engineering sectors. The theme of this year is Inventors and Innovators. It is inspiring to see women engineers at the forefront of innovation, achieving new heights.
On this International Women in Engineering Day, we are sharing and learning from the journey of women in innovation who have patents registered in their names, how they overcome the challenges, what inspired them, and assisted them to emerge as winners.
Securing patents is a very commendable job. What inspired you to get into the field of STEM innovations?
I was always fascinated with new technologies and cutting-edge methodologies. I was constantly curious about the working of smart and intelligent products. I wanted to know how humans think and how intelligence can be embedded in products. Such inventions make life easier for humans so this thrust about knowledge may be the first step towards STEM innovation.
However, all this started much before I developed an interest in science during high school, and love watching new technology being developed. After graduating in Computer Science, I was pretty much sure that I should do some work in designing new technologies that will aid scientific research and study. In my opinion, the STEM field contributes to innovation and world progress more than any other field. STEM is a gateway for me to live my dreams and succeed in a field that is difficult to enter without the correct steps taken and references known.
Last but not least when I was seeing gender diversity is very less in innovation and seems like male dominating field hence this is one motivation to get into innovation, I think women should contribute equally to the field of STEM innovation too.
From inception to a fully-fledged patented idea – How would you describe this experience?
When I started everything was a black box for me right from the product on which I was working. I was not having any idea about possible solutions. I started from scratch analyzing all possible methods to build the solution. I was making proof of concept in a possible manner that is, sometimes only in the form of an excel sheet or an implementation in MATLAB or LABVIEW, etc. So, I was experiencing like I was riding a roller coaster full of highs and lows. However, I didn’t give up, own my decision, and worked hard exploring the possible solutions and finally, I made it.
As a woman in the field of innovation, what were the challenges you faced in getting these patents and how did you overcome them?
A woman is required to walk a razor’s edge between being assertive and likable, and proving her worth beyond anything expected. Balancing Personal and Professional Life was the biggest challenge I faced or rather I would say every woman is facing this problem. I was newly married when I started working on this problem so was facing new challenges and adventures on the personal front as well and was pursuing my master’s degree too. I started prioritizing things.
One should learn the art to give priority to either profession or family as per the situation. I tried to balance these responsibilities as per the demand from both fronts. I started proactively approaching mentors making sure that my voice is heard. I stopped pleasing everyone and unleash my confidence then over the period everyone started understanding me. As a result, with the support of my family, my mentors, and my colleagues, I successfully completed the work.
Each invention is a milestone in human history. What is your patent and how did it further propagate your career journey?
My patent is to make products smarter to predict their own fault. In this, we implemented artificial intelligence and successfully showed the remaining life of parts in advance. For this, I learned artificial intelligence and statistical processing. Also, I came across all other related methodologies while analyzing solutions and hence this further made me unique in my career journey.
In today’s disruptive world, you also need to constantly learn, unlearn and re-learn. My goal is to evolve my skills in a challenging environment, work within a team, and provide efficient solutions. I can ensure that there will be opportunities to increase my value and to grow in ways that benefit both the company and me.
To other women who would like to innovate and invent, what would be your advice?
I want to give some friendly suggestions to all. We always tend to adapt and accept work-related problems either process or technology and we miss asking the questions ‘why’ and ‘how’. Here we lose the opportunity to identify new ideas. So be aware of problems and don’t ignore these problems as they may further get converted into “ideas”. Problems exist everywhere, we just need to identify them by keeping assumptions aside. Also, try to find out more than one solution to your problem this will make us keep thinking and get a new solution that will be unique and patentable.
Lastly, I would like to say to other women (or anyone!) who want to innovate and invent it: if you are up for it, go for it. New solutions need new leaders. Keep close to your vision, work on your plan and execute. Take your first step and the rest will follow. Dealing with little or big failures now and then is normal. Have happy innovation to all…. Keep innovating… keep growing….