Dams to digital: India’s engineers are now building tech systems for the world

Dams to digital: India’s engineers are now building tech systems for the world

On the occasion of Engineer’s Day, we look at what some of the country’s finest engineers are working on, and the advice they have for young engineers.
1. Proud of Delhi Metro accomplishment: Arthi Rajasekar, Team Leader – Digital & Integrated Systems, Alstom

I’ve worked in the urban rail mobility (signalling) industry for over 13 years, and on projects like Delhi Metro, Shenzhen Line 3 (China), Incheon Metro Airport line (Korea), and currently Agra-Kanpur Metro. Closest to my heart remains the Delhi Metro project, as I worked on multiple DMRC lines, starting from Line 1 in 2003. Today, Delhi Metro stands as one of the greenest urban rail networks in India, having prevented carbon emissions of more than 90,000 tonnes. I lead the team that designs and tests the interlocking software which ensures the safety of the metro. The Line 7 project will be the longest unattended train operation (UTO – driverless system) line in the world. Gender no barrier.
Women must lead large infra projects
Gender is no longer a barrier in the engineering field. I am eager to see the transformation of the railway sector spearheaded by women in engineering.

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2. Part of a mission critical team, Krishnaraj Lakshminarayanan, Director – Digital Cockpit, Automotive, Harman

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Until recently I was leading the SPOT (system profiling and optimisation tools) India Team. It comprises of around 20 of Harman’s best automotive engineers from across the globe. They monitor performance and stability for all ongoing automotive projects. Car infotainment solutions are bundled with a lot of new technologies and features, and it is critical to ensure they work seamlessly when integrated. System resets, system freeze, audio glitch, sluggishness, etc, are common problems during product development.
One such issue reported for one of our customer programmes was that the system restarts when driving through village roads. The team went for a drive test and realised that on a village road with a lot of trees, light keeps changing and the light sensor in the head unit pumps in a lot of messages, which results in loading the communication framework and ends up in a system reset. The issue was resolved by adding additional logic. To figure out a problem, it is very important to understand your systems. And to listen to the end user.
Wear an architect’s hat: Budding engineers must always wear an architect’s hat and design systems for the future.
3. Accelerating cloud migration: Santosh Reddy Mereddy, Product Owner, SAP Labs India

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The SAP S/4HANA cloud test automation tool (TAT) project holds a special place among my many projects. TAT is adopted for testing business applications and helps customers accelerate migration of their applications to the cloud, thus saving them significant time during scheduled upgrades. This product has empowered SAP and resulted in higher customer satisfaction.
Learn using open-source: I would advise engineering students to work in teams, as you will gain collaboration and team spirit skills. Also, learn by DIY/ opensource. You need to get experience of starting a project from scratch, doing development, testing, documentation, and then sharing your learnings/ work on platforms like GitHub.
4. Have handled massive power projects globally, Megha Nasikakar, Electrical Engineer & Assistan Manager, Exports, ABB

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I joined ABB in 2005 as a graduate trainee and since then I have been looking after all the key and strategic projects for ABB – including globally – in the medium voltage switchgear business. A switchgear is a combination of electrical disconnect switches, fuses or circuit breakers used to control, protect, and isolate electrical equipment. One of my biggest accomplishments is the 2 x 800 MW thermal power plant project for Telangana, where we had supplied 450 switchgear panels. The plant, once completed, will greatly reduce the environmental impact, fulfill the power requirements for many projects, and impact some 35 million people.
Overcome biases: Young women engineers should not feel tied down by any biases.
5. Exciting time for an engineer: Piyush Jain VP and Global Delivery Head, Software and Digital Services, Quest Global

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The world today has some very complex challenges. For an engineer to be living in this time of rapid technology change and working with these technologies to solve these complex challenges is exciting. If I have to pick one project that has given me and the team immense satisfaction in recent times is the one that we developed for the UN Development Programme. They wanted us to build a solution that can help them track their vehicles which are sent for providing aid. This is done on a real-time basis and helps provide better tracking, monitoring, and planning for aid distribution. Our team used some of the latest technologies and innovations to build the solution and we were a proud bunch as the solution got deployed.
Dare to experiment Young engineers should dream big. But to live your dreams, you need to work hard and keep learning. The world is changing fast and many new technological innovations are coming. So you will need to be fast learners, must dare to experiment, and feel comfortable with change.
6. We are redefining Aerospace: Vaibhav Kumar Somani, Sr lead engineer, Power & Controls, Collins Aerospace

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We are redefining aerospace in our Bengaluru centre. My most recent project was to develop a digitally controlled, modular, and reconfigurable power supply system that fits into multiple products like engine control, air management system and other futuristic modules of electrical aircraft architecture without requiring hardware changes. This helps in reducing non-recurring costs and enables prognostic health monitoring features. Several patents and trade secrets were generated as a result of this work. I was named as a finalist for the 2021 Collins Engineer of the Year at the global forum, and was a winner of the Zinnov Technical Role Model award this year.
Innovate, innovate, innovate: Budding engineers should constantly be willing to learn, take on bigger challenges, come up with new ideas. Innovation is what helped me gain credibility.
7. Capturing photos of the moon: Saravanan P Head – Technology Cloud Engineering, Oracle India

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Circa 2008. I was working as a solution engineer for a systems firm. ISRO was looking for a high-performance storage solution to store the photographs transmitted by its Moon mission, do the post-processing activities, and make them available to astronauts worldwide for more studies. It was a once-in-alifetime project. We pulled many all-nighters to create a demo that met the technical requirements and adequately addressed the performance, functional requirements, and ease of use specifications. But, as luck would have it, less than 24 hours before the scheduled demo for the ISRO directors, Murphy’s law – anything that can go wrong will go wrong – caught up with us. We had to recreate the entire demo in 12 straight hours through the night, and we succeeded.
The result: we were able to demonstrate all the use cases tailored to ISRO’s requirements, and the ISRO team was ecstatic. We landed (pun intended) the order. It has remained one of the most prized moments of my career.
Always dream big: My advice to young engineers is, always dream big, work hard, and when possible, pay it forward by going beyond what’s expected from you.
8. Redesign processes, not just products: Rekha Thomas Staff Engineer, Micron Technology India

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Today, the problem statements have evolved beyond just solving for a specific product or feature. While you are solving for solutions to bring to market the next generation of products, you are also constantly looking to automate the design process with hacks that will reduce cycle time, remove manual work, leverage the latest software tools and collaborate for efficiency. For example: we recently evaluated and upgraded to a new device modeling tool and the transition entailed the setup of hundreds of flow steps from the legacy tool to the new tool.
The setup, if done manually, would have taken months, but a detailed study of both the tools helped us understand the similarities in the backend code and enabled us to build a script that helped transition all the flow steps within minutes. These small day-to-day challenges are what keep me motivated and proud of being an engineer.
Focus 100%: As a woman engineer, you have to be able to prioritise your career and your area of expertise. With technology and industry landscapes that are constantly changing, you can quickly fall behind if your focus is not 100%. With more women friendly workplaces, keeping this focus has become more realistic.
9. Surreal to see consumers use our product: Garima Srivastava Director, Samsung Semiconductor India R&D (SSIR)

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Today, being an engineer is about creating for the future and making innovation more accessible. In the semiconductor industry, it’s also about executing flawlessly with reduced time cycle between design and commercialisation. One of our flagship products that keeps me and my team motivated is Exynos and the end-to-end ownership for its development. Exynos is a system-on-chip that reinvents the user experience for Samsung smartphones. After all the development work, collaborating with other R&D teams and exceeding various milestones, it feels surreal to see a real consumer use the product we developed in 12-18 months.
Speak your mind: I would urge young women engineers to speak their mind.
10. Working on breakthrough tech: Harshini Nanje Gowda Senior Engineer, Western Digital

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Ever since I started my career in Western Digital, I have been involved in their next generation flash enhanced drive architecture called OptiNAND. It adds vertically integrated iNAND embedded flash drives to HDDs, bringing together two fundamental technologies. This serves as the foundation for future innovations, paving the way for the capacity of drives to reach 50TB before the decade ends. From the time of inception to the final development stages, it involved innovative changes to legacy firmware and system-on-chip (SoC) designs in all disciplines of both technologies. It’s been a huge collaborative effort of diverse teams in terms of geographic location, experience, engineering group and storage domain. I’m so glad I could work on breakthrough technology at such an early stage of my career.
Find a mentor: My advice to younger engineers is to find a mentor, join a community, be a good listener, and enjoy learning.
—Compiled by Swati Bharadwaj and Sujit John

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