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Bhuvaneswari Gurumoothy, 2018 PES Wanda Reder Pioneer in Power

IEEE PES Women in Power (WiP) always inspires the career advancement, networking and education of women in the power and energy industry. IEEE PES WiP is impacting the lives of young engineers throughout the world. This time I am pleased to introduce Bhuvaneswari Gurumoothy who is one of the winners of the 2018 PES Wanda Reder Pioneer in Power Awards. She shares her experiences with IEEE, motivation behind joining IEEE, PES and WiP and her success story:

“I was born in a small town in South India. I was the last among five siblings, and coming from a family of modest means, education in a private school was out of the question. I went to a local school where the medium of instruction was Tamil, my mother tongue. The switch to English instructions in my eleventh grade terrified me beyond my wits. I was fortunate to have had considerate teachers and with the help of my older siblings, who had transitioned to learning in English, I coped with this hurdle, and managed well enough to secure admission in the Bachelor’s program at the oldest engineering college in the country, College of Engineering, Guindy, Madras. It is here that my interest in Power Electronics, Electrical Machines and Drives was kindled and nurtured by excellent and dedicated professors. This enabled me to go on to specialize in Power Electronics and Drives in one of the foremost and premier institutions of the country, the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, where I completed by master’s and doctoral studies.

I was fortunate enough to be offered a teaching position in my alma mater, where some of my senior colleagues advised me to become a member of IEEE. Through IEEE, I had an excellent exposure to state-of-the-art technologies, circuit topologies and devices in the area of power electronics and drives. I avidly read articles in IEEE Transactions and also the magazines from IEEE like Spectrum, Power & Energy magazine and IAS magazine. In 1993, I migrated to the United States after which I got an opportunity to work in the Information Systems Division of ComEd, Chicago. Although, I liked the work environment and job profile at ComEd, I missed interacting with younger students and teaching the fresh & inquisitive minds. In 1997, I returned to India and took up a faculty position in IIT Delhi, another premier technology institute of our country. Since then, there has been no looking back. I have supervised 75 Master’s students and 9 PhD students, many of whom are women. Currently 7 PhD students are working with me out of which 5 are women. I have been actively participating in the activities of IEEE Delhi Section being a part of its execom and also being the Chair of PELS-IES Delhi Chapter during the years 2010-11 and also during 2017-18. I was elected Fellow of IEEE from the Power and Energy Society in 2017. What I am today, I owe to my alma mater.

Managing a full-time job along with a family, juggling multiple roles, has been challenging. Passion for my chosen profession and the support of my family members, students and many colleagues have fueled my motivation to be the ‘odd woman out’ in a field dominated by men. I firmly believe that encouraging more women into Engineering and Science is very important in nudging our society towards greater gender equality; however, it is very essential to sensitize all the members of the STEM community to enable greater and sustained participation of women in our workforce. I am very happy that I am a part of the gender sensitization entity in IIT Delhi; many younger women in the institute also recognize me as a senior colleague in support of their cause. Last year, we organized the First annual Women in Power Conference (WiP) in New Delhi. It was gratifying to see two young ladies from WiP USA, Sainab and Shay, who came all the way to India to participate in this conference. Many of my younger women colleagues and students participated enthusiastically in this conference, creating the hope that power engineering profession will see much more women contributing effectively in the future. Power engineering and women empowerment are two things close to my heart and I am especially thrilled and honored to be the recipient of the Wanda-Reder Pioneer in Power Award, 2018. I am glad that WiP is doing its best to encourage more women to come into the engineering profession, in general and in power engineering field, in particular.”

Sainab Ninalowo
IEEE PES WiP Chair