Embedded Developers all around the world – Maanasa Sachidanand
I remember my interest in computer science grew when I was around 12 years old. I was taught basic HTML commands to design a website in school. I designed a simple Christmas holiday greeting website and I absolutely loved it.
My parents do not have a science and technology background, but they ensured I had access to a computer at home as a child and they supported my interest in science and maths.
The choice of Computer science (C/C++ course) during my senior secondary school ( 16 to 17 years of age ) was a natural choice for me since I liked to work with computers. This was around the same time when I had exposure to electronics due to my physics lab and courses in school. I was fascinated by how the movement of electric charges can make an electric bulb glow. I was also curious to know about the technology behind cellphones, computers, and electric mixers at home, this made me pursue my bachelor’s in Electrical and Electronics Engineering at VIT University, Chennai.
It is very competitive to get recruited by the biggest electronic companies in India. You have more than 500 students applying for a single job position. I know that everyone’s selection path is unique, but I believe the following points are what helped me.
During my bachelor studies, I had Electrical courses ( i.e. Power Generation, AC/DC motors) as well as Electronics courses ( i.e. VLSI, Embedded systems, Analog and Digital electronics ). When I realized my interest in electronics, I started doing many technical projects in electronics and participated in robotics competitions along with my classmates which helped me improve my technical competence. I also did three technical Internships during my studies.
I had the unique experience of being one of the 18 selected electrical engineering students in the world to attend the “Smart Energy for a Better World Workshop” by ABB in Krakow, Poland. This international experience also added value to my profile.
My education profile of being among the Top-10 rank holders during all four years of my bachelor’s studies ( In a class of about 130 electronic students ) really helped me as well.
The technical interviews for these big companies can last more than 3 hours and hence, the ability to explain the technical projects and technical concepts to the recruiter with clarity is very important. It is okay to not know the answers to all the questions.
I would like to add that I was recruited as a Digital Intern at Texas Instruments, India. I had to prove my technical competence during my 6-months internship and then, I was offered a full-time job.
Some challenges I faced during my studies were finding Internships and career guidance. I did not have any industrial contacts and I applied to several internship jobs which involved many rejections as well. I also did not have a mentor to guide me about my choice of courses, internships, or job profiles. But, I think it has been a great learning process.
In my previous answer, I mentioned my trip to Poland as a bachelor’s student. It was my first International trip and It was a turning point in my life. It helped me meet students from different nationalities and cultures. This amazing trip made me want to come back to Europe for my master’s studies. This realization to pursue master studies occurred during my job as I noticed gaps in my technical knowledge and I wanted to explore new technologies in Embedded Systems.
I chose to do an Aerospace master’s program with an Embedded Systems specialization since Space exploration is exciting and fascinating for me. This program accepted students from an Electronics background. I am a recipient of three scholarships (ISAE-MBDA scholarship, Charpak BCS scholarship, and Mobility International scholarship) in my master studies in ISAE-Supaero, France which covered both my Tuition fees and Living expenses.
Before getting admitted into my master’s program, I was not confident of my selection since I am exploring a new Industry. The shift from Semiconductor to Aerospace Industry was challenging but I also learned that the fundamental electronics knowledge remains the same across Industries.
As an immigrant from India and a space enthusiast, I never knew what opportunities would open up for me in Europe. There are two technical projects that are very special to me and really challenged my technical competence.
1. “AI4Space” Project
I got an opportunity to do an Embedded AI Internship with the Space Systems research group at the University of Luxembourg. The project was to develop an AI-driven space payload that can detect thermal anomalies on space electronics hardware. I worked with the Space Systems and Computer Vision research group using components off-the-shelf ( COTS ) to run AI algorithms on embedded or resource-constrained devices in space.
On 12th June 2023, This project was launched into Space on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. This research has the potential to increase the lifetime of satellites in orbit by detecting faults in space hardware.
2. “CoRoDro” project
The Corodoro project is a robotic system involving collaboration between Rover and Drone to navigate autonomously to explore sites of interest on the Moon. I got to work on this space robotics during my master studies which we presented at the IGLUNA event in Lucerne, Switzerland in July 2021.
In this student project, I was a member of the SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping) team and worked on point-of-interest detection. I implemented the algorithm of AR-tag detection on the drone and rover which involved camera calibration, AR-tag design, and C programming. The testing of this project was conducted in the ONERA lab, in France.
These two projects helped me visit Switzerland and Luxembourg and meet researchers and engineers from around the globe. I learned a lot about my interests, and technical competence and got international exposure while working on these projects. I am very grateful for these opportunities.
Women Adore Tech is a digital platform that I founded in 2021 to help women pursue their dream careers. The idea for the platform is based on my personal experience of facing gender discrimination as a woman in STEM. It has been a challenging journey for me in breaking barriers and pursuing the career I love in Engineering. There is a lack of support in many countries for women to pursue a career of choice. Hence, this platform aims to provide resources, inspiration, and female role models through blogs, podcasts, and career resources to help women from diverse backgrounds and experiences.
When I worked in my first company, I met my female mentor and she helps me traverse through personal and professional challenges. I hope that through this platform women can meet mentors and female role models and learn from their journey to traverse the unique societal challenges. I believe building a supportive community for women to share their challenges and discuss solutions will really help in overcoming the problems we face. Additionally, supportive male allys at workplace will also help women grow in their careers.
Thank You very much Maanasa for the dedicated time for this interview and for the inspiring story of Your career path!