Meet Anubhi – Automation Engineer in Digital Industries
STEM is the root of all success
Anubhi is an inspirational young female engineer, working in automation within Digital Industries. Her story took her from India to the UK but her core beliefs about the importance of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects being merit-based rather than gender specific never deviated.
Seventy miles north of Delhi in India sits Perfect Products. Founded in 1997, this control panel manufacturer and automation company is where Siemens’ own Anubhi first embarked on her career into the world of engineering. While Perfect Products mainly deals in electrical and automation engineering, Anubhi’s route into this sector started quite differently.
“My degree was in biotechnology,” Anubhi says. “I studied at Panjab University for four years and I had two options – either biotechnology or mechanical engineering. I remember at the time, my entire engineering cohort was men all heading down the mechanical engineering route. Some of my seniors asked me if I was sure I wanted to do this? At that point I switched to biotechnology, so drug engineering, genetic engineering and microbiology. After 4 years of biotech engineering, I realised I wasn’t a huge fan of research, and that’s when I went to work with my dad at Perfect Products.”
Anubhi was also surrounded by knowledge from an early age as her mum is a distinguished Professor of Physics. The house was packed full of books and dinner-table conversations often focussed on academia, physics and maths. However, Anubhi’s time spent working at her dad’s engineering company made her really see what she was passionate about and spurred her on to take life-changing decision.
“I think about the decision to do biotechnology a lot. I give talks to young girls studying STEM subjects and I stress the importance of mentors. If someone had spoken to me at that time when I had a choice of two specialisms, I probably would have taken mechanical engineering. The one good thing is that it made me see what I loved doing, plus I was good at it.”
While working at Perfect Products, Anubhi found that customers would question her on her biotechnology degree, so she decided to apply for a Masters in Automation Engineering Technology at Newcastle University.
“I never thought it in my dreams that I would be going abroad to study, let alone stay here in the UK. I knew I needed that academic grounding in the subject. It was a one-year Masters and work visas were very challenging at the time. As soon as I arrived in the UK I started applying for jobs. I knew a lot about Siemens as my dad uses their parts back in India, so I applied for a graduate electrical engineering role in Manchester.”
Successfully applying onto the scheme, Anubhi worked across automation, engineering and technical support and it was to be this final placement that she quickly realised she enjoyed the most. In 2018 she joined the business full-time as an Automation Specialist for Digital Industries in Manchester.
Her role sees her mainly dealing with virtual commissioning and factory automation. Her job is to quickly simulate and create digital twins of plants and machines so you can see how the factory will work before commissioning anything. For Anubhi, it’s the personal interactions throughout her day that really get her out of bed in the morning.
"I like to go out and about, talk to people, hear their problems and try to understand how technology can solve it. The best thing about my role is that I still I need to have a technical background to understand the problems, and then think of a solution around that. It brings my technical abilities together with my ability to go about and talk to customers and discuss their issues. It’s that mix of things that I love.”
Like many people in the company, and especially in DI, Anubhi was instrumental in providing technical expertise for the Ventilator Challenge, namely the hackathon. She led the team that solved a needle calibration issue on the build which brought the complicated process down from 40 minutes to just 6.
“It was amazing to be part of it. You could see the size of the operation over at the AMRC (Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre) in Wales. I was in my element as we were set a very clear challenge for the hackathon and were tasked to solve it. We did all of it from scratch, from coming up with the concept, to finding resources, the mechanical design and writing the automation code for the calibration machine. We came up with the first prototype and then presented it to the managing directors from Ford, McLaren, Airbus and Siemens. Our idea is now set to work on the line and making a difference and that is hugely rewarding.”
When speaking of the differences in industry between the UK and India, Anubhi believes that the two countries treat the field very differently and as a result, the cultures around engineering are different.
“In India, we have loads of female engineers. It probably comes from the fact that engineering is considered a very prestigious profession to have, irrespective of the gender. If you're an engineer or a doctor, you're really respected in the society. It seems different here in the UK and I don’t encounter as many female engineers, especially in my field. In my two-and-a-half years at Siemens, I’ve rarely met another equivalent female engineer, either at Siemens or the wider industry.
“I think a large part of this is around the culture you create for young children, your surroundings and what you drum into them. I was never told that science is not for girls, or that specific toys are just for boys. I could read or play with anything I liked. In that sense it all seemed very gender neutral, which is how it should be.”
For Anubhi, her incredible grounding in theoretical and practical engineering has led her to become a STEM ambassador here in the UK and pass on her knowledge. She is a member of WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) and mentors young girls in the early stages of their careers.