Women and mechanical engineering are normally found in the opposite ends of the spectrum. As someone who has always been recruiting engineers for my work teams, I used to be appalled to see that even in South India – where education for women is given some importance – I would rarely find a woman mechanical engineer.
I am twenty years into recruiting and, thankfully, this entire myth was recently busted when I came across Team Panthera!
A team of girls who are Mechanical Engineering students at the Indira Gandhi Delhi Technical University for Women – are making giant strides – in the area that is often quoted as men’s domain.
This year, 2019, constitutes the third generation of this All Women Super Mileage team – the only such team in India, probably even the world.
The roots of the team date back to 2015, when this team had got together and built a first-generation version of the car, Iris, aptly named after the Greek Goddess. As years have progressed, relying only on their own self worth and dollops of self-driven determination, they launched the IRIS 3.0, a Battery Vehicle Prototype, in the Shell Eco Marathon ASIA held at Kuala Lumpur this year.
Whenever one dreams big, there are enough naysayers around to ensure you do not dream and stop short in your road to success!
Needless to say, these girls also had to go through enough questioning glances, silent rebukes, and some open harsh statements, right from Engineering is not for girls!, Why are you not pursuing some other form of engineering like Computer Science?, You girls want to build a car? to shopkeepers in the market recommending that they send boys to buy the spare parts.
Well – this is the true picture of our current society.
But then, who can dare to stop a set of undaunted girls.
Well, Team Panthera – a name they christened themselves based the Royal Bengal Tiger (Panthera Tigris) – is an unstoppable team as they have some clear vision, mission and goals in place.
A strongly focused group, the team has multiple roles with clear set of responsibilities. The team comprises of students from 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th year, and has them taking accountability for various roles of this program such as Technical Head, Team Manager, Publicity Head, Sponsorship Manager, Driver, Spare Driver etc.
A big credit must be given to the private companies that are encouraging and supporting these girls in their journey towards success.
It takes an entirely different kind of will to build something from scratch involving conceptualisation, design, creation, development etc. And it requires even more super human efforts to handle the obstacles that come in the way.
Yet, as the girls put it, ‘We do it all on our own. We do not shy away from the tough work. And we are not afraid to get our hands dirty. Our aim is to Prepare to compete; Compete to win. We are not here to break the glass ceiling. We are here to shatter it completely!’
May the force be with you girls!