June Focus on Women Engineers: Meet Yamini Harikrishnan
Meet Yamini Harikrishnan, Lead Requirements and CONOPS Manager
15 June, 2023
“We’re all working as though this is our own company. Our investment isn’t money; it’s our intellect and hard work.”
Leading up to International Women in Engineering Day on 23rd June 2023, ALL.SPACE is celebrating its dynamic female engineers each week.
Other women engineer features:
- Meet Marina Marinova, Antenna Test and Calibration Engineer
- Meet Aishwarya Srikanthan, Electrical Engineer
- Meet Maria Papaioannou, Director of Lens Antenna Engineering
For today’s spotlight, meet Yamini Harikrishnan, the Lead Requirements and CONOPS Manager in Systems Engineering. Based in Reading, UK, Yamini manages all requirements and test plans and procedures for ALL.SPACE’s multi-orbit smart terminal. The native of India has spent two decades in the UK. She didn’t always plan to be an engineer, as she shares below.
Role: I manage all requirements, subsystem specifications, test plans and procedures for the terminal as well as anything to do with European Space Agency and SES, and more recently, is leading the team to develop user manuals for customers.
Time with ALL.SPACE: 2 years
Favourite Thing about ALL.SPACE
ALL.SPACE has provided me with numerous opportunities to broaden my expertise, not only within my familiar field but also in unfamiliar areas such as EMC and environmental testing. Previously, my background was in telecommunications software, so transitioning to systems engineering was a significant change. However, I have always enjoyed embracing new challenges as they bring excitement and prevent monotony. This is what I appreciate about ALL.SPACE—the dynamic work environment that constantly challenges me and offers ample chances to learn and grow professionally.
How Telecom Differs from the Satellite Industry
In the telecoms industry I was working in 4G technology with well documented 3GPP specifications. However, with the current trends in satellite industry, there are numerous unknowns, requiring a more innovative and unconventional approach where you have to think outside the box.
At ALL.SPACE, we thrive on pushing boundaries in every aspect of our work. Satellite technology, especially electronically steerable antennas, has witnessed significant advancements in recent years, with various companies developing products in this field. What sets us apart is our unique terminal architecture, which combines lens antenna technology with electronically steerable phased array antennas. This groundbreaking design revolutionises satellite communications and offers something truly unique. Naturally, this entails navigating uncharted territory in terms of requirements, specifications, procedures and system parameters.
I’m proud of what I’m doing and very proud of what ALL.SPACE is trying to achieve – to continuously challenge the status quo. We’re all working as though this is our own company. Our investment isn’t money; it’s our intellect and hard work.
As a member of the systems team, effective collaboration with various teams within the company is crucial to delivering results within tight timelines. It is essential to establish a common technical language to ensure seamless communication. The fast-paced nature of our work environment demands adaptability and an agile mindset, which constantly motivates me to surpass my own limits.
Path to Engineering
I have spent nearly half of my life in the UK, but I originally hail from Chennai (formerly known as Madras) in South India. Our society in India is traditionally conservative and there are certain norms and expectations regarding the upbringing of children. Typically, when a girl is born, families save for her future marriage, whereas when a boy is born, they prioritise investing in his education. However, my father decided to break these conventions for me. As a senior marine engineer working on oil rigs in the Middle East, he believed in providing both education and financial security for my future.
Interestingly, my path into engineering was purely accidental. Science and mathematics were always at the forefront of my upbringing and areas where I excelled. Initially, I had set my sights on becoming a medical doctor but faced challenges in passing the qualification exam. Around the same time, computer science was gaining popularity in India. Taking this opportunity, I enrolled in a bachelor’s program in Computer Science Engineering at one of the top institutes in India.
However, as I progressed in my studies, I discovered that my true passion lay in the field of telecommunications rather than the core subjects of computer engineering. Despite completing the four-year course, my inclination towards electronics grew stronger. As a result, I made the decision to pursue a research degree in optical wireless communications for my master’s and subsequently pursued a PhD in wireless communications. I was the only female PhD graduate among a class of 25. Following the degree, I dedicated the next 10 years of my career to the telecommunications industry.
How to Inspire Future Engineers
It is imperative for schools to take the initiative and make science engaging and captivating for kids from an early age. This can be achieved through hands-on experiments, interactive learning experiences and arranging for guest speakers to share their expertise and insights. By fostering a stimulating educational environment, we can spark the interest of young minds and inspire them to pursue careers in engineering and science.
I am an avid reader – with genres ranging from fiction and non-fiction to self-development books. I also practice yoga and dance. I was trained in classical dance in India. I do a lot of cooking as well – I like to experiment with various cuisines. As a family we actively engage in hiking, bike rides and watching different sports on TV. Also, I dabble in quilling, knitting and embroidery.