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Women who redefined the engineering space with grit & perseverance

Posted by 4MAT Administrator
Posting date:10/1/2020 4:04 PM
As the world celebrated International Women in Engineering Day (#INWED20) on the 23rd of June, we took this occasion to shine the spotlight on some of our most inspiring engineers who held on to their aspirations, despite any challenges, to reach the place where they always wanted to be. In this process of determination and dedication, they have unknowingly played an instrumental role in shaping the perspective of our society towards engineering as a viable profession for women. 

Say hello to three of our dedicated and empowering women engineers in India - Sumita Peter, Senior Project Manager and Head of MEP, Meera Varghese, Assistant Engineer, Ground Engineering, Infrastructure and Somya Sharma, Design Architect, Nuclear New Build, Infrastructure, as they share their professional journey #InsideAtkins.

What inspired you to study engineering? 

Sumita Peter:
There was something about the "blueprint drawings" that fascinated me since I was a child. I was captivated by the scenes of buildings being constructed, and wondered how drawings can be brought to life through these structures. This curiosity intrigued me further about this industry, which led to me pursuing my   bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering after I had completed my schooling, even though Computer Science was a more popular choice, back then.

Meera Varghese:
Engineering has been my passion ever since I was a young girl for the prestige it carried, the vast applications, and for the never-ending challenges it offered. I was always interested in applying mathematics to solve real-life problems. By choosing engineering as my field of study, I chose to follow my belief that this profession would help me to perceive things differently and to question the existing practices. 

Somya Sharma:
I grew up in a family of civil engineers, so the drawings of construction, and large infrastructure surveys are an integral part of my childhood memories. Since then, my curiosity towards engineering and architecture started developing. During my school years, the inclination towards art and technology piqued my interest further. The style of creating timeless, joyous spaces and the idea of bringing the designs into ground reality, through endless possibilities and opportunities to create something around the world, that would make a real impact, inspired me to be part of it.

Through this profession, I can contribute to designing and visualizing a better, safer and more sustainable world. The unwavering encouragement and support from my family to pursue my dream has played an important role in choosing this profession.


What are some of the challenges you encountered in your engineering career or your field of work, and how did you overcome them?

Sumita Peter:
I started my career as a Design Engineer, which was considered to be a predominantly male field. Initially, I had inhibitions in sharing new ideas or volunteering for initiatives. However, with perseverance and a lot of hard work, I have been able overcome them. I always focused on the positive aspects and that empowered me to tackle the obstacles that came along. 

Meera Varghese:
When I started my career in engineering, I had apprehensions about experimenting with something new, or asking questions. But I decided to take charge of my fears and leave my comfort zone behind. I learned that asking for assignments instinctively enabled me to enhance my skills, as well as my personality. I became more confident in the work I was doing. This approach made my career more intriguing. 

Somya Sharma:
In the realm of architectural design, the only thing that seems to develop faster than hardware, is software. One needs to stay abreast of the developments in innovation, and the digital space. Similarly, the engineering sector still needs more diversity. The number of women entering the engineering or architecture field remains disproportionately small. The stark difference between their presence in educational institutions and in the actual profession is very evident.

I think a major reason for this scenario is our society’s preconceived notion of gender-specific roles. As women engineers, I think it is very important to nurture self-belief and confidence in ourselves. We also need to understand that every challenge gives us an opportunity to learn.

What do you enjoy the most at Atkins?

Sumita Peter:
It has to be the infinite opportunities to engage in interesting and diverse projects and pursue different roles within the organization. I started my career at Atkins in 2007 as a PHE Engineer and moved on to lead MEP projects within a period of 2 years. 

I then took up Project Management roles and got the opportunity to deliver several major projects with teams comprising of over 150 staff members, covering multiple sectors including rail, buildings and infrastructure. Through an internal transfer, I relocated to the Middle East office in 2014 and spent a couple of years working on extensive rail projects. This was an enriching experience as I began building up the skills of interfacing with the clients. 

During my 13 years of stay, I had the opportunity to work with some of the best mentors, who guided and assisted me in the journey of seeking my professional aspirations. This year, I took over the role of Head of MEP discipline and I am looking forward to excelling in my new role. 

Meera Varghese:
Since I embarked upon my professional journey at Atkins in 2017, I can safely say that it is like a “second home” for me. Starting from the Graduate Development Program, I have been surrounded by supportive colleagues. The work atmosphere has given me complete freedom to thrive and take up challenges. The global exposure on projects, secondments, and a sense of developing together, make Atkins stand out. The application of theories and equations, through the large-scale global projects at Atkins, enabled me to understand the value of engineering in the society. 

Somya Sharma:
Atkins has always recognized talents on the basis of merit. It’s encouraging to see how the best of opportunities are given to the employees to showcase their capabilities. In terms of culture, a lot of importance is given to team building activities to inculcate the spirit of teamwork across all disciplines. 
I am currently leading a team of 30 engineers and architects for one of the largest Nuclear New Build projects in the UK. Apart from work, I actively get involved in engagement initiatives that promote well being.

Click here, if you too want to be part of a team, that’s always on a journey of inclusivity. 
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