Vidushi Dwivedi currently working in Intel as a Packaging R&D Engineer, completed her MS in Chemical Engineering from Northwestern University U.S. in 2018. Vidushi tells us that one of the reasons she chose U.S. as her higher study destination was because Universities in the U.S. work in close collaboration with national labs and also leaders in the industry, thus providing great exposure to students. She also loved the fact that all degrees are interdisciplinary, not limiting students to a particular path.
Vidushi says that she always wanted to be able to contribute and improve technology that touches everybody and her current role at Intel empowers her to do that. In her words, “I am excited to be a part of that journey as we continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in the realm of technology”.
We recently caught up with Vidushi to learn more about her STEM journey – her field of study and work, challenges she faced during her academic journey and her learnings from those, impact she intends to make and her advice for women wanting to pursue STEM studies. Read about her experiences and inspirational journey in the post below…
What are you currently doing?
I came to the U.S. in 2016 to pursue my MS in Chemical Engineering from Northwestern University. After graduation, I worked for the Institute of Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) before moving to Portland, Oregon, where I currently work for Intel as an R&D Engineer for technology development by focusing on semiconductor process and equipment for next generation chipsets. I get to spend my time working in the Intel fabs with some of the coolest toolsets!
What made you take up your field of study in the U.S.?
I was drawn by the opportunity to work with some of the world’s best researchers, learn from the best and grow as an engineer. Universities also work in close collaboration with national labs and also leaders in the industry providing great exposure to students. I also loved the fact that all degrees are interdisciplinary and students aren't limited to a particular path and have the flexibility to choose from numerous courses and specializations offered by the university. Lastly, the academic environment is very welcoming to international students, diverse and there is no language barrier. We were all immersed in a multicultural environment from the first day which keeps students engaged and helps build lasting friendships.
What were the challenges you faced during your academic journey to your University and how did you overcome them?
Once I landed in Chicago and finally started graduate school, time just flew by. It was challenging, I won’t lie, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I was able to build lasting friendships and learn from some great mentors along the way who always stood by me and supported me throughout the journey.
During my first quarter, I had set out to find a lab, which was a completely new experience in itself. Granular dynamics was a new field for me but Prof. Lueptow believed in my ability to learn and contribute to the field which gave me a lot of confidence. I struggled initially with the internal pressure to make the project work, but kept going at it, and spent hours
learning CUDA, Matlab to try and get my projects going with help from my labmates and professors. Getting used to this research and lab environment can be challenging, but keep reading, learning and taking classes outside your comfort zone.
During summer I managed to land a dream internship with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in collaboration with the Institute of Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern. I was given the opportunity to extend the internship into my semester. Theoretically, it was beautiful. But practically, during a short 2 year MS program, I found myself juggling between many tasks- classes and assignments, lab research, other projects/ internship work as well as onsite jobs to financially support myself (I was a grader and worked in the library). This wasn’t sustainable and I had to prioritize my time and reached out to my mentor for support who was able to secure additional funding so I could focus solely on my research and projects.
Landing a job is crucial and can be tricky to navigate as an international student. Career fairs were a very different way of securing interviews/ jobs in comparison to what I was used to back in India. I decided to attend one in my first quarter to be better prepared for future ones. It was daunting to say the least, and I found it very difficult to stand out from the lines of students waiting to talk to company representatives in their brief conversations. As expected, I didn’t get any call for interviews that evening. To change this and get better knowledge of the job culture in U.S., I reached out to the career center for help with preparing my elevator pitch, fixing my resume, and doing mock interviews. I also did several informational interviews with alumni and built my network during the process which was a great help.
What is the impact you intend to make with your chosen field of study/work?
My time at graduate school and undergraduate has helped provide me the tool to be able to impact every industry through optimization, process development and continuous improvement. I always wanted to be able to contribute and improve technology that touches everybody. My current role at Intel empowers me to do that and I am excited to be a part of that journey as we continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in the realm of technology.
One tip or advice for women who intend to make a mark in STEM fields...
My advice to women who intend to make a mark in STEM fields is to always remember that no one is an expert from the beginning. Sometimes, women can experience greater performance pressure, but speak up, and if you have a question, ask ask ask. Never let that fear keep you from any opportunity. People are always willing to help you out. Grow your network and don’t underestimate what you can achieve. Most importantly, always remember- you’ve got this! :)
I strongly believe that education is not an expense, it is an investment.