I have always been intrigued by the miracles of engineering and the impact it has on our everyday life...
Usha received her B.E degree in Mechanical Engineering from Victoria Jubilee Technical Institute in Bombay, India and her M.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Stony Brook University in Long Island, New York. Before joining TE SubCom in 2006, Usha worked in various Telecommunications and Consumer Market segments. Usha served as team leader on many engineering projects and holds a patent for the mechanical design of one of the first web phones in the US market for which she received an innovation award. She also executed the mechanical/thermal design of the industry’s first advanced service platform to offer programmable line ports.
During the course of her tenure at TE SubCom, Usha has designed complex mechanical architectures of underwater repeaters that transmit fiber optic signals over transoceanic distances. She is instrumental in all aspects of mechanical design of undersea transmission systems addressing not only system component body design but also, high density fiber management, thermal control, electrical applications, and complex assembly procedures.
While at TE SubCom Usha has been a recipient of several Team awards for Impact Innovation, New Innovation and Design Reuse.
What is the best part of your job today?
The best part of working at TE is interaction with my peers and the working environment. I get to work with some of the most advanced people in their field and appreciate the fact that everyone is accessible and open to sharing ideas and solutions. I treat each day as a learning experience.
How can corporations like TE become more effective in recruiting women engineers?
From my childhood days, Math and Science have been my favorite subjects. I have always been intrigued by the miracles of engineering and the impact it has on our everyday life, so there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to pursue a career along the same path. Upon entering college, it came as a bit of a shock to me that there were only two females in our Mechanical Engineering class and I was one of them!
It's been over 25 years since I graduated and there has been a gradual increase in the number of women engineers. However, informal studies have indicated that women engineers tend to end up in fields that have a societal connection, such as medical, energy, etc., since the general thought is that those jobs are for a good cause and hence rewarding. Couple that with the fact that there is a general stigma that the telecommunications field is male dominated, with no easy upward mobility for women, and you can understand the difficulties and challenges TE faces in diversifying their workforce.
In order to encourage women to work in technology companies such as TE, several positive steps can be taken. One of the first steps could be to build strong ties to the local Colleges and Universities, and encourage experienced technical women from your organization to serve as mentors to college students. There are a number of organizations that offer scholarships to women interested in entering the engineering field. Donating regularly to organizations such as the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) not only help fund scholarships for qualified women but also shows a commitment to the culture of creating a diverse workplace. In addition to this, creation of a strong internship program, as well as providing each intern with a mentor to increase the impact of their internship and thereby ensuring a personal connection within the organization would be a great help. Since women are always juggling home and work life, provision of flexible work timings and work options such as allowing employees to work from home on an as-needed basis would be a great plus. And, if the company has a large workforce, providing family friendly benefits such as on-site child care facilities would definitely be a tempting proposition that could clinch the deal. Besides this, during the interview process, it would be advantageous to highlight women in recruitment material since “a picture is worth a 1000 words” and also reiterate equal gender pay policy. In the long term, maybe address this issue at the grass roots level, such as establishing a new organization, similar to “Girls Who Code” like “Girls Who Design” or “Girls Who Build” and get Middle School & High School involvement in order to educate, encourage and inspire young girls into getting into technology fields early, before they select their college majors. Also, working on generating public awareness about how technology companies directly and indirectly provide societal good could help.
These are just some of a myriad of ideas a few of which could be put in place immediately to encourage women engineers. A career in Technology and Telecommunications companies such as TE should be an exciting proposition for women as in the big scheme of things, though not readily apparent, they have a societal connection as well and help to improve the overall health of the globe. Telecom companies make the internet and services like “Skype” possible, which enable families that are separated from each other by situations like war or economic conditions to still “see” each other. So in a very direct way, telecom companies provide technology that helps keep families together. Also, telecom companies are critical in supporting NGO’s in their work through efficient transfer of data. My entire career has focused on the telecommunications segment - from working on data transmission via satellite communication systems on my first job to using fiber optics for data transmission in my current job: my work experience has come full circle in terms of innovative technology and has been a challenging and rewarding journey, one that I would not want to trade for the world.
"So in a very direct way, telecom companies provide technology that helps keep families together."
TE gives me the opportunity to work on a varied amount of projects. I like the fact that each project has a unique and different set of challenges. I can be innovative and keep my brain active all of the time. Another advantage is that I get to work on a project from start to finish – mechanical architecture, design, develop, prototype, build, test, and all the way into production.