Women Adore Tech

Towards a Brighter Future – Rujuta Barve

Recently, we sat down with Rujuta Barve. A graduate of Purdue University, Rujuta currently works as a Systems Engineer at Mitsubishi Electric Power Products, Inc. in Pittsburgh, USA. Motivated by a drive to improve electricity fluctuation problems, she chose a career in Power Electronics. “In most parts of India, load shedding is quite common. Put simply, it is just planned outages, generally because of not enough electricity supply, or supply paused as a precaution during bad weather or hazardous conditions. As a kid, an uninterrupted supply of electricity sounded really cool, and I wanted to do my part to help that”. Read on to know more about her journey – a typical day in her job, how her post-graduation has helped her at work, and her source of motivation in such a demanding field.

What attracted you to Electrical engineering?

As an Indian, almost everyone looks at two major fields for their career – engineering or medicine, and I definitely did not like biology! Like most ‘90s kids, I was attracted to robotics, and it was my first line-follower car that pushed me towards electrical engineering. But, Power electronics never crossed my mind until I studied that course in under-grad. I was struck by the concept that you cannot create or destroy energy, but you can convert, transform and control it just by playing with the voltages and currents. I wanted to go deeper into that topic, which is how I chose the same field for Masters. So, during my under-grad, my technical focus was Power Electronics Systems, and in Master’s, it moved to Component Level Analysis and Electromagnetics.

Can you describe your role at Mitsubishi? What does your day look like?

I work as a Systems Engineer. In a layman’s language, I work to make sure that, in the future, whoever is generating electricity is not causing any security issues to the existing transmission system. My role involves performing planning studies for new generators that will be connected to the existing electric grid, to ensure interconnection of these resources will not impact the stability of the existing system, nor cause reliability concerns. I am also tasked with recommending mitigations should there be instability. In the future in this domain, I can transition to more day-to-day operation of the electric grid and actually be responsible for ensuring there’s no power outage.

Where do you see yourself in the coming years as an electrical engineer?

With more experience, my technical skills will definitely improve, and that will be a key attraction for my clients. In addition, I can also make a lateral shift to a project management role. The role is not hands-on technical work, but instead managing the entire project, making sure we keep at the right pace and bringing different parts of the project together.

Is there any advice you would like to share with young girls interested in the same career path?

When it comes to an advanced graduate degree, I cannot emphasize enough how beneficial research experience can be. It completely changes the way you approach any problem or idea. You develop a habit of overcoming that mental block when something becomes hard to do or decipher because that’s part of any research process. That ability has been extremely helpful at work; I am able to figure out things by myself without much dependence on others. If my company is planning to grow their product line, expand their services or try something new, I won’t be scared to try that because I know I can figure it out eventually.

If you could go back in time, what would be the one thing you’d do differently, and the one thing you wouldn’t change?

I believe it was school science competitions where I explored my love for science, so I would keep doing that. I also believe every single person I’ve met played some part in painting my experiences, and wouldn’t want to miss out on them. Something I would want to do differently is to have started coding earlier. I wish I had realized sooner that computers & automation are here to stay and being an electrical engineer does not give me a get-away from the coding card.

What I gained out of my technical degree is fundamental knowledge of electrical engineering and the ability to apply it to different problems. And I guess, I did get the job I want, to ensure that people get an uninterrupted supply of electricity”. She also adds, “I think I am one of the few people who pursued electrical engineering by choice, and I’m happy that I did

-Rujuta Barve

Content Editor: Krithika Kathiresan
Reviewer: Maanasa Sachidanand, Krithika kathiresan
Interviewer: Maanasa Sachidanand

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