Purnima Kumari Sharma, R&D ENGINEER: WOMEN IN ENGINEERING

Niranjana R

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Explore Purnima Kumari Sharma’s journey as a female R&D Engineer in FPGA. Uncover challenges, advice for women in engineering, and insights on her evolving career in this dynamic field.

Women In Engineering With Purnima Kumari Sharma

FPGA Insights has conducted an exclusive interview with Purnima Kumari Sharma,  R&D Engineer at Logic Fruit Technologies, to gain valuable insights into her experiences as a woman in engineering.

What’s your Name, job title & area of research/work?

My name is Dr. Purnima Kumari Sharma. I serve as an R&D Engineer in the FPGA Department at Logic Fruit Technologies, Gurugram. My academic background includes a Ph.D. in Biosensors and Bioelectronics and an M.Tech in VLSI. Currently, I am working as a design engineer on PCIe-related projects, which is a type of connection used for high-speed data transfer between electronic components.

What sparked your interest in engineering? Can you describe the moment you realized this was a field you’d like to pursue? 

There was no specific EUREKA moment; my interest in engineering evolved gradually. Since childhood, I enjoyed solving problems, whether untangling threads or tackling complex mathematics questions. My persistent approach to problem-solving and patience likely ignited my passion for engineering.

What are your experiences of being a female engineer?

I think being a female engineer is the same as being a male engineer. The only difference is that we are few.

Can you tell me more about your career path so far?

I come from the northeastern region of India. I have done my schooling in Dibrugarh, Assam. I was one of the state board exam toppers with good grades in Science and Mathematics. This motivated me to take Science for my higher studies and further pursue my career in engineering.

I did my B. Tech in Electronics and Communication Engineering where I developed my interest in VLSI. I continued to pursue my passion for this subject and did M.Tech in VLSI. I always wanted to work in this field. But at that time and place, there was no such opportunity. Hence, I continued my research and after one year of teaching in an engineering college as an Assistant Professor I started my Ph.D. in Biosensor and Bioelectronics under the prestigious Visvesvaraya PhD Scheme, MeitY, GOI.

During Ph.D., I got married to the love of my life, and after completing it I shifted to NCR. Here, I joined an engineering college as an Assistant Professor in the ECE department and served there for more than a year. Then, during the pandemic things were not as before, so I decided to switch from academics to industry. It is said that success is when opportunity meets preparation and I felt I had prepared myself well. I got the opportunity to prove my skills at LFT which I feel is an organization that gives talent preference over any other prejudice. And here I’m working as an R&D engineer doing work that I love to do.

What has been your most challenging experience as an engineer?

Engineering challenges mirror life’s hurdles; possessing good problem-solving skills and guidance aids in overcoming them. Teaching in an engineering college, predominantly with male students, was initially challenging due to my soft-spoken nature. However, I embraced it, turning the class into an engaging and interesting learning experience.

What is the most exciting thing about your job?

The most exciting thing about my job is every day we have a new problem statement that needs to be solved. Tasks are not repetitive, every day is a new day.

What kind of impact would bring you great satisfaction in your work?

I want to see India as a semiconductor hub, where we are designing and manufacturing world-class and latest technologically advanced chips indigenously. As an Electronics engineer, I see myself contributing my bit to this movement which brings a lot of satisfaction. We have to be the torch bearer of this movement. Arise, Awake, and Do not Stop till the goal is reached.

What do you think needs to be done to improve the statistics in terms of women’s participation in engineering?

Flexibility in terms of work location may improve a lot on the statistics because after marriage women have to shift to a city where her husband is working. Hence, Work from Home, Satellite offices in small and mid-cities, maternity leaves, etc might improve this figure.  

What do you enjoy most and least about engineering?

Choosing engineering has been one of my best decisions so far; thus, I cannot pinpoint any least enjoyable moments. Repairing non-functional gadgets at home or solving critical issues at work brings immense joy.

Who has been your greatest support, coach, and mentor across [Industry], and why?

My greatest support, coach, and mentor has been my husband Mr. Nitin Kumar Sharma, Senior Manager, EIL. He is a Mechanical Engineer. He may be from a different engineering field but he always takes interest in the work I do and helps me out in making tough decisions.

What is it like to be a woman in engineering? Do you feel that your gender gives you a different perspective and experience from your male counterparts? Any advantages?

I have heard that women are designed to be more multitasking.  It might have given us an edge, where we could focus more while handling various technical issues at the same time.

What advice do you have for women interested in engineering? What kinds of practical experience should they have? What technical skills should they pick up?

Engineers build a country and it is the equal responsibility of women to participate in the growth process. India is going through a transition phase from a developing country to a developed country. For young girls, it is an opportunity they shouldn’t miss. By the time you are job-ready, you may find ample opportunities. 

All you have to do is to dedicate yourself to studies for a few years. Take guidance from your teachers, seniors, and the internet, and pursue engineering courses of your interest. For women studying in remote parts of India, they should try for internships during summer breaks.

We should believe in the fact that good education and skills gained never go to waste. Everyone has some strengths and weaknesses. One should try to pursue their career where their strength lies while continuously working towards improving on weaknesses.

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