Anjali Dhayagude, 18 – FUNDED

Space has always been at the center of Anjali Dhayagude’s fascination and interests. Ever since she was very young, she dreamed of one day being able to see the world from above, “to loom over the planet and look out into space.” That fascination eventually kickstarted her interest in aerospace technology, and over the past three summers, she has had the opportunity to intern at SES Satellites, one of four international satellite companies in the world.

As she worked on writing satellite maneuver procedures, her colleagues introduced her to the ever-growing problem of space junk and the threat it creates for current technology and future generations. Ultimately, she wants to contribute to preserving the beauty and clear presence of outer space while helping push innovation and technology within the aerospace industry.

This New Face of Tech is on her way to achieving her passion for space at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, where she’s currently pursuing a major in industrial engineering and a minor in design and innovation and economics. She’s also part of the Honors College there!

What does being the New Face of Tech mean to you?

It’s a very encouraging experience. It shows that there is active support for fellow women in technology and that there is interest in the projects that I proposed and discussed. Being in technology can be difficult because it can feel like everything has already been invented. Being a New Face in Tech allows me to explain and explore new technological pursuits that excite me and it shows me that there is a market of people who are interested in hearing about those ideas.

It is also great to be introduced to a community of supportive women that are pursuing their passions in technology. I love being able to see all the other women and girls from different fields and occupations come together to express their interests and share their experiences in tech.

Women are underrepresented in STEAM. How can we change this?

One of the most important ways to alter the representation of women in tech is to provide people access to information and resources about STEAM clubs and classes. Advocating for women in STEAM and technology is not the same as getting women and girls involved in those fields. By educating students and parents alike about the opportunities that exist for women, in both an academic and extracurricular sense, we can help more people become aware of the benefits that the STEAM fields have. However, we can’t stop there.

It is vital that we not only spread information, but also provide access to resources that will allow a larger demographic of women and girls to engage and stay active in the field. Resources could be free online classes in programming, access to local clubs and classes about robotics, and more. By providing women and girls of any age the ability to experience technology and STEAM in a hands-on and educational setting, we can help them foster their interests and passion. By creating an environment that educates and provides resources for STEAM and technology-based activities, we can help mold a world where more women will have been exposed to these fields from a young age and will be able to pursue them in the future.

What are some of the challenges you have faced along the way?

Sometimes being a woman in STEM can be very isolating. When you look around you in a classroom or even in the workforce, it can seem like there are no other women. It can be disheartening to see and can even result in microaggressions, disrespect, or blatant discrimination. It can be frustrating and discouraging when you are confronted with these kinds of attitudes towards women in STEM, especially if you are experiencing them from a young age.

How do you stay motivated and focused on your goals?

I will be the first to admit that it is not always easy pursuing a degree in STEM. Whether it’s the classes or the competition, it can be a struggle to succeed. But, an important thing to remember is that you are not alone in your struggle.

One of the ways that I have stayed motivated and driven in reaching my goals has been by finding a community of people where you can mutually support each other. In high school, I was lucky to be on a team of girls who were extremely encouraging and motivated. From building our robots to helping each other with homework, I found a group of people who I could always count on to have my back in a competition or the classroom. Finding a group of similarly motivated people in college has helped keep me on track and motivated. With the transition to college classes, where the content gets more difficult, it is always nice to know that there are people you can connect with.

How will funding from the 1,000 Dreams Fund and HARMAN help you reach your goals?

I will be able to continue to pursue my education at Purdue University.  The combination of industrial engineering and design and innovation allows me to understand the mechanical and physical technology that goes into technology while also teaching me how to create new technology for an evolving market.

Additionally, the ability to speak with a HARMAN executive will allow me to get an additional perspective on the way that technology can be designed, created, marketed, or sold to a new industry. Whether the technology is satellites or audio devices, this insight and mentoring from an experienced executive is important and will allow me to gain further insight into the corporate side of technology and innovation. I am always eager to see how I can turn my dreams into my career, and by winning this challenge, I will be able to do exactly that.