Tejaswini Chatty: Engineering, Entrepreneurship, and Encouragement

This is part of a series of articles profiling up-and-coming female STEM graduate students on Dartmouth’s campus, in recognition of International Women’s Day on March 8th.

Tejaswini Chatty may only be in the first year of her PhD at Thayer, but ever since arriving in the US for the first time six months ago, she’s hit the ground running. Originally from India, Teja  first connected with her thesis advisor, Dr. Jeremy Faludi, while completing an internship on sustainable design. They realized that they had similar research interests and, upon interviewing with Dr. Faludi, she was admitted as a PhD candidate at the Thayer School of Engineering. 

The Faludi Lab studies how industries can integrate sustainability into their design and manufacturing practices in both quantitative and qualitative ways. Teja’s research focuses on building novel tools or improving existing ones to help incorporate sustainability in the early stages of product development. She has had a great time working with Dr. Faludi and says, “It’s been incredible! He is very supportive, enthusiastic and open to new ideas and avenues for research.” 

The weather isn’t the only difference between Teja’s experience back home (“The coldest it gets in Chennai, India is 75° F!”, she laughs). During her bachelor’s degree, she was one of 12 women in a class of 80 studying Mechanical Engineering, which she says is a “pretty good ratio” for this field of study in India. In the research lab that she worked at, she was one of just two women in a group of 16. “Mechanical engineering isn’t very popular amongst women for some reason,” she muses. “Society assumes that being a Mechanical Engineer requires physical strength, and that deters women.” She credits her tomboy nature as a child and her family’s encouragement that allowed her to pursue her interests.

She has loved her experiences in Thayer, and at Dartmouth, thus far. She is excited to be working in an environment with a good female-to-male ratio and feels grateful for the encouraging and collaborative environment: “When you have an idea or a problem you want to solve and reach out to people, everyone is very eager to support you”. 

Teja was recently accepted to the 12th Class of the Innovation Program at Thayer, a competitive entrepreneurship-focused program that offers funding, business skills, and networking support for PhD students like her who are keen on becoming technology entrepreneurs. She also recently joined the Student Leadership Board at the Magnuson Center for Entrepreneurship. Through these roles, she hopes to connect with and encourage other women in the Dartmouth community who hope to pursue entrepreneurship.