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International Women in Engineering Day: Interview with Priyanka Jayaraman

23 June, 2022

International Women in Engineering Day Poster

International Women in Engineering Day

International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) began in the UK in 2014 as a national campaign introduced by the Women’s Engineering Society. INWED has grown to become an internationally recognised event. For the first time, thanks to the interest and enthusiasm of the international audience, INWED enabled the global celebration of women in engineering.

To celebrate INWED, we sat down with Priyanka Jayaraman, Product Development Engineer to talk about her story, and the highly rewarding career path that she has chosen.

Read Priyanka’s thoughts below about what it’s like to be a female in the world of engineering, to work at Advant Medical and how Advant has contributed to her journey.

1. Priyanka, what is your role at Advant Medical?

Priyanka Jayaraman: I work as a Product Development Engineer. Within the Engineering department, I work on numerous projects supporting customers in their design, prototyping, and testing of a product’s development.

2. When and why did you decide to become an engineer?

PJ: I always liked Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). After my 12th grade, I was exploring study and career opportunities. I had a major interest in both the engineering and medical fields and I wanted an opportunity to engage in both of them. That’s why I decided to pursue Biomedical Engineering, as it involves using cutting-edge technology to improve healthcare.

3. Where did you go to college and what qualifications have you obtained?

PJ: I have a master’s in Biomedical Engineering from the National University of Ireland (NUIG). The course has several practical modules which provided me with experience in designing medical devices.

4. Why did you choose Advant Medical?

PJ: Advant Medical is a leading medical device manufacturer to some of the largest Medical Device OEMs in the world. After working in a research lab and hospital in India, and following on from my masters I was keen to gain experience in medical device manufacturing. The variety of products that are manufactured in Advant drew my attention. I was fortunate enough to get an internship and my opportunities grew from there. Being a part of developing medical devices is very fulfilling and engaging.

“Being a part of developing medical devices is very fulfilling and engaging.”

5. How has Advant Medical supported your career?

PJ: Since I joined Advant back in 2020 they have always supported me. I have been given the opportunity to grow as an engineer and build new skills. Advant has always encouraged me to get involved in projects that challenge my core competencies. At the same time, I have always been provided with the support and mentoring I needed.

6. Can you tell me more about your career path so far?

PJ: I started my career as a student researcher in a biomaterials lab in India where I worked closely with senior lab members towards the development of innovative research. I then became a Clinical Engineer in a hospital where I was responsible for advancing care by using medical technology to optimize healthcare delivery. I now work in Advant, developing medical devices for use in the healthcare sector. I believe my experiences working both in a hospital using the devices, and now developing them, gives me a greater understanding of the needs required of new medical devices.

“my experiences working both in a hospital using the devices, and now developing them, gives me a greater understanding of the needs required of new medical devices.”

7. How has the flexibility across Advant enabled you to explore a range of career choices and opportunities across different areas?

PJ: I have had the chance to work in almost every section of the device development process, from supply chain to production. Everyone in Advant has supported and mentored me in their area of expertise. Although these various roles are not directly under my job title, they have helped me to gain a better appreciation of the complete process during medical device development, manufacturing and delivery to the customer.

8. What would you say has been your most rewarding experience as an engineer?

PJ: My most rewarding experience is being part of developing new technologies and devices that will improve health and save lives.

9. What has been your most challenging experience as an engineer?

PJ: My previous role as a clinical engineer was challenging. I had the responsibility of managing the equipment and also supporting clinicians. As the hospital environment is unpredictable, I often had to juggle several tasks at once.

10. Do you think there is a stereotype of women engineers?

PJ: The most commonly perceived stereotype is that women engineers lack technical skills. It takes time for everyone to develop skills, but we studied these technical skills at university level. However, as we enter the workplace it is often perceived that our male colleagues are more suitable for the role on offer. As we’ve studied the same courses, and turn up every day to do the same work in the same field, we want to be there and we know what we’re talking about, just as much as a male colleague would.

11. Is there anything challenging about being a woman in a sector that is still very male-dominated?

PJ: Unfortunately, a lot of women do not receive the respect they deserve in the workplace due to their gender. Thankfully I’ve never felt like I couldn’t achieve or do my best because of my gender, especially here in Advant.

12. What advice would you have for girls in school/college who may be considering Engineering as a career choice/study option?

PJ: Engineering is a good career choice. Engineering is not always about getting greasy and applying tools. Engineering is a broad discipline – from tissue engineering, nanotechnology, electrical, and software from the simplest devices to Aerospace. There are lots of interesting options and career opportunities. Also, don’t be intimidated by math and you don’t have to be a nerd.

“Engineering is a good career choice…don’t be intimidated by math and you don’t have to be a nerd.”

13. Finally, Priyanka, who has been your greatest support, coach, mentor across Advant Medical and why?

PJ: Mary Tighe! Everyone here in Advant has been supportive but Mary Tighe, the Engineering Manager at Advant, has been exceptional. I started in the company as an intern with no prior experience in the industry. Mary has been very supportive from day one and provided the right environment while offering opportunities to learn.

A sincere thank you to Priyanka for taking the time to share her thoughts on what it’s like to be a female in the world of engineering, and at Advant Medical.

Advant Medical

At Advant Medical we are dedicated to gender equality, which is why we are delighted to be able to share Priyanka’s story. We choose to celebrate INWED because we recognise the diversity of gender, age, culture, experience and expertise builds a strong working community within Advant. We embrace taking the opportunity to promote our team whenever we can, as visible role models to young people thinking of careers in the STEM industries. If you enjoyed this article, why not check out our other interviews with female leaders in the Advant team who talk about their personal experiences of working in the MedTech Industry:

Debra O’Loughlin – Managing Director
Ammie Flaherty – HR Manager
Bernice Crowley – Supply Chain Manager
Denise Torres – Plant Manager Costa Rica

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