Featured Engineer

Interview with Ramita Sawhney

Ramita Sawhney

Interview with Ramita Sawhney- Systems Engineer at Boeing

Can you give us a little background about yourself?

I was born in India, where a spent a great deal of my childhood until my family made the big move out to California thirteen years ago. I finished schooling in the Bay Area and then moved down to UCLA for college. Now I’m a young professional working at Boeing in Orange County.

What first gave you an interest in engineering, and how did you wind up at Boeing?

I always loved math since I was a kid, I used to ask my parents to give me problems to solve just for fun! In high school, my strong skill set in math and science gave way to my interest in engineering. My experience on the board of SWE-UCLA (Society of Women Engineers) got me in contact with a Boeing recruiter, who interviewed me for a summer internship at the Huntington Beach site. I was thrilled to have my first engineering job in the defense industry. In addition to learning a great deal about engineering on the job, I was lucky to meet a lot of smart and skilled folks at Boeing. I was pleased when they offered me a full-time job after graduation, I’ve been here almost a year and half now – time flies!

The engineering industry has a very low percentage of female professionals. Do you think your experience as a woman in the industry has been different in some ways than that of a man? And do you think there is a need for programs that encourage young girls to pursue STEM fields?

Being a female in a male-dominant industry has definitely been an interesting and unique experience. I do feel that I’ve had to prove myself and show that I’m just as able to perform a technical job as my male counterparts. Engineering isn’t an easy career (especially the times where I have felt out of place being the only girl in class or at work), but it is a rewarding one and I’m thankful for my perseverance as well as encouragement from others to continue growing in this industry. I’d like to help inspire and encourage younger women to consider pursuing technical degrees and careers in order to decrease the gender gap in this field and provide women with more opportunities to take on challenging and innovative professions.

What are some interesting projects you have worked on? What are you currently working on?

My specific program, Integrated Shipboard Systems, is contracted by the US Navy to build Inertial Navigation systems for submarines. I’m currently working two different projects. One of them is a lead technical role for the re-design of a power supply for one of our system components. This role has not only strengthened my technical skills, but it’s allowed me to explore different aspects like budget planning, scheduling, risk mitigation, customer interaction, technical documentation, etc. and it’s been a great (and at times, challenging) experience so far! Another project I recently started is working to develop the functional model and architecture for a new replacement navigation system (which uses fiber optic technology) that minimizes process flow and optimizes system’s functionality.

What tools (software and hardware) are your favorites?

Modelsim is a great tool that is fairly easy to use and has a lot of features and functions that can help users with coding, debugging, and simulations for FPGA design. Another useful tool for analog circuit and digital logic simulations is PSpice. I also love using Microsoft Excel for a variety of tasks including data analysis, calculations, graphing, and plotting.

What is the trickiest bug you have fixed?

I may have to pass on answering this question as I’m not allowed to disclose “details” about my job since I work for a classified program.

What is on your bookshelf?

Outliers, Blink, A Thousand Splendid Suns, Freakonomics

Is there anything you’d like to say to young people, especially women, to encourage them to consider engineering?

Engineering degrees are probably the highest in demand in the job market. There’s so much room for innovation and creativity in these fields and it’s definitely worth taking advantage of. This career has provided me with lots of of tools to help me develop professionally and personally. If you have an interest in exciting new technology and products, you should consider pursuing this field. Joining an engineering organization in college (SWE) definitely helped build my interest in engineering as I got to build relationships within the engineering student body as well as network with company representatives and I definitely recommend you do the same.

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