Nikita Hari is a scientist, social entrepreneur, science communicator & stem ambassador from India with a vision to uplift society through education. She is a Cambridge University Nehru Trust Scholar and Churchillian pursuing her doctoral studies in Electrical Engineering in the Power and Energy group at University of Cambridge,UK.
She is also the Co-founder of two social enterprises -'Wudi Datatech'(http://datawudi.com) & ‘Favalley’ ( https://favalley.com )with the vision to turn slums into the next silicon valleys through engaging, training and matching marginalized youth to coding jobs. Nikita also tutors first year engineering undergraduates of Churchill College.
My biggest aspiration and vision is to educate, inspire and help socially disadvantaged children around the globe, especially young girls to take up scientific studies and research thereby igniting their lives. Thus I’m passionate about making a positive contribution to society through technology and education.
What is your chosen STEM field?
Engineering. Being in love with Physics and Mathematics being a good friend of mine, Engineering came as an obvious choice to me after my A levels. The intrigue, fascination and excitement to fathom the unexplained ‘electric shock’ I received as a kid motivated me to take up electrical engineering as my specialisation; starting off with an undergraduate degree, then moving on to do a masters and now pursuing a PhD in the same area.
Why did you choose this field?
The world deals day in and day out with electrical power conversion— trillions of adjustments are made daily to deliver electricity from wall outlets to power any electronic device. And I work on the systems that do the converting – called ‘Power Electronic Converters’ – which are very inefficient, costing us billions every year. This problem, though astronomical, remains invisible to the common man! So through my research, I’m exploring a better way of converting this ‘power’ through ‘Gallium Nitride Switches’, which are poised to jumpstart the next generation of smaller, faster, denser and efficient power converters.
What obstacles have you overcome in your career?
My biggest challenge right from my childhood was that, I have had to question & fight the stereotypical roles that society had framed for girls and battle hard for what I believed in. And to do so, I had to excel, be the best at anything I chose to do, as that was the only way I could make my voice heard and choose my desired life path. So through my outreach activities I try to motivate and inspire girls to take up STEM subjects and tell them not to allow their gender to be a reason standing in the way of their goals because ‘Science knows no gender!’
The greatest blow I received in my career was when I fell seriously sick and my family hit by a serious crisis at the same time. When problems come, they come in battalions and it took a hard toll on my research wherein I couldn’t work for months together. Being in a very unsupported research group added to my misery, but at the end of the day I have a very supportive group of friends, my college Churchill, my tutors and the Department of Engineering who are helping me work my way through it.