Diviya DevaniDiviya Devani is a systems engineer who works in the Quantum Technology department at Teledyne e2v.

She has previous experience as a Product Engineer on European Space Agency projects including the ESA Sentinel 5 project which monitors air quality, climate and solar radiation.

Diviya is currently overseeing a two year, world-first project, managing a six strong consortium from both industry and academia to deliver a small satellite system that will demonstrate a Quantum experiment in space.

She has been eager to work in the space sector from a young age and is passionate about encouraging more women to pursue careers in STEM industries. She feels that our education does not detail the wide range of careers STEM offers and would like to help raise awareness of the opportunities that there are out there for women.

Her role model is Sunita Williams the first person to complete a marathon in Space and she is currently the treasurer of the Institute of Engineering and Technology, Essex network and one of her key objectives is to increase engagement with young professionals and female engineers within the engineering field.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I completed my Masters in Physics in 2014 at the University of Nottingham, after which I joined the Space Imaging Engineering Graduate Scheme at Teledyne e2v in 2015. During the two year scheme I worked in different functions across the business including; bid management, development engineering, product engineering and a continuous improvement project. I worked as a Product Engineer on a European Space Agency (ESA) project – Teledyne e2v supply Imaging Sensors for the Fluorescence Explorer (FLEX) mission which will map vegetation fluorescence to quantify photosynthetic activity. Since completing the scheme I am a systems engineer developing a shoe box sized satellite with a quantum experiment on-board.

My current role requires me to maintain the integrity of the design, bringing together five different subsystems of the satellite which are being delivered by external industrial partners. I ensure that when the components of the satellite come together they interface correctly, mechanically and electrically.  I also have to keep on top of the original aims and requirements specification of the system, ensuring the end product is not completely different from the initial requirement. A key part of the role is ensuring the satellite meets the European Space Agency’s standards which include environmental testing, functional testing and adhering to the allowed materials standards. The satellite needs to survive launch conditions and be able to operate in a radiation environment for at least six months.

I like to keep busy outside work as work life balance is important to me. I have a grade eight in classical singing and enjoy keeping fit by running.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I have always had a target goal which has been to be in the heart of a Space mission on a large programme. So the focus has always been on Space. I haven’t defined in detail what the path in between the beginning and the end is, but I’d say I’m right on track and in my dream job right now and on my way to the end goal.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Challenges always appear, but I see them as opportunities to become stronger and better at what I do. I have been in roles where I have been responsible for championing a change that isn’t supported by all parties. In this instance the challenge is understanding what motivates the person/people and showing them how the change could potentially benefit them.

If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?

The Job application process, and job adverts in particular. I don’t believe job adverts/specifications are tailored to appeal to a wide audience. It has been shown that women will apply for a job once they meat 90 percent of the criteria and men will apply after fulfilling 60 percent. Simple changes such as reducing the number of non-negotiable requirements could lead to more female applicants. Changes in language could also have a big impact, as words such as ‘negotiation’ can put females off in particular, but also men. In addition I think there is a big lack of females in senior leadership roles. The middle management roles seem to have plenty of women, but the further up you go the less women you see. Reassessing job adverts and making them more friendly and appealing to both genders could make a big difference. Having realistic requirements that are flexible would attract more females and also mean the right candidate gets the job.

How would you encourage more young women and girls into a career in STEM?

I think it is important that there are opportunities for young women and girls to have first-hand experience of STEM careers, inspiring role models and once in the field continued support throughout their careers potentially via mentoring schemes. Having work experience opportunities in STEM companies is invaluable, but it is important that there are inspiring role models on hand to support and guide them. I recently organised a visit for a group of girls from a school, where they spoke to a range of STEM professionals on site, had a tour and also carried out hands-on activities such as wearing a cleanroom suit which looks like a space suit, but keeps our manufacturing areas clean from particles as once our sensors are in space there is no one there to clean them.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

My biggest achievement to date has been getting a job as a systems engineer working on a small satellite, despite not having previous experience as a systems engineer. I have since then been able to present the project at a European Space Agency conference in Italy in front of nearly 300 people.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

My next challenge is to take this project from the lab and get the satellite into space. As for the future, I still have a secret ambition to be an astronaut so I’ll be working on this.