Remembering The First Indian Women In Engineering

By Vandya Rai

September 15, 2022

Ayyalasomayajula Lalitha

At a time when no woman studied engineering, Lalitha enrolled in the College Of Engineering, Guindy and graduated as an electrical engineer in 1943. Despite numerous setbacks and sacrifices, she went on to inspire more women to join engineering fields.

The First Woman Engineer of India

Image Source: Wikipedia

P.K. Thressia

Thressia joined the electrical engineering course a year after Lalitha, and graduated in 1944. They were part of a trio of the first women engineers. She became the first and only woman who was the chief engineer of a Public Works Department of state in all of Asia.

The Second Woman Engineer of India

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Leelamma Koshie

Leelamma was part of the engineering trio with Lalitha and Theresia. At the young age of 19, she graduated in 1943 with a degree in civil engineering. She also pursued further education in England to study town planning, sponsored by the Maharani of Travancore.

The Third Woman Engineer of India

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Rajeshwari Chatterjee

Interested in the fields of Mathematics and Physics, Rajeshwari decided to pursue a Masters in Science. She travelled to the US and earned a PhD in Electrical Engineering. In 1953, she became the only female professor in her department at the Indian Institute of Science.

The First Woman Engineer From Karnataka

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Anuradha T. K.

Anuradha led the launches of satellites GSAT-12 and GSAT-10 and has played a key role in many Indian space programmes. She joined as a scientist at ISRO in 1982 after studying for a Master of Science and worked there for 34 years.

The First Woman Satellite Project Director at ISRO

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Shakuntala Bhagat

Shakuntala founded Quadricon, a firm that designed 200 bridges across the world. Shakuntala also worked as an Assitant Professor at IIT Bombay. She was recognised as the Woman Engineer of the Year in 1993.

The First Woman Civil Engineer in India

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Ila Ghose

Ila was interested in engineering from a young age. She was the first woman to graduate from Bengal Engineering College. She worked as a lecturer in various universities and in 1985, she was approached by UNESCO to set up Mahila Polytechnic in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The First Indian Woman Engineer From West Bengal

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Sudhira Das

Sudhira became an engineer at a time when education was taboo for women. Passionate about Mathematics, she earned her Masters in Radio Physics and Electronics in 1956. She founded Women's Polytechnic, Bhubaneswar which provided diploma programmes to women.

The First Indian Woman Engineer From Odisha

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Tessy Thomas

Tessy joined DRDO in 1988. Here, she worked on the design and development of the ballistic missile, Agni. She was the associate project director of the Agni-III missile project, Agni IV, and Agni V.  She became the Director-General, Aeronautical Systems of DRDO.

The First Indian Woman Scientist To Head a Missile Project

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Kalpana Chawla

Kalpana worked at NASA’s Ames Research Center on power-lift computational fluid dynamics. In 1994, she went on her first flight in space aboard the space shuttle Columbia on flight STS-87. Her second flight was in 2003, which failed on its way back and claimed her life.

The First Indian Woman Astronaut in Space

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