Growing up in a small community in India, Ayesha Iftiqhar saw most of the women in her family getting married and starting a family. When Ayesha read about Kalpana Chawla, an Indian-born American astronaut and mechanical engineer and the first woman of Indian origin to go to space, she said to herself “I can do that”. Seeing someone with whom she could identify reaching such amazing heights lit a fire within Ayesha. As astronaut Sally Ride said, “If you can see it you can be it.”
At the age of 20 she left India for the first time to pursue her Master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of North Carolina in Charlotte. After graduation she went to work in the engineering field, working on a variety of projects including developing battery systems to replace gas engines in power tools and more. A big part of Ayesha’s work is Ethical Engineering, which focuses on reducing the environmental impact of the projects she works on.
When Ayesha found herself doubting her abilities, also known as Imposter Syndrome, she started working on personal engineering projects outside of her regular job. One of these projects was attaching LED lights to a cloth mask equipped with a proximity sensor. The mask would display a smile if individuals nearby were within 6 feet or a frown in they were less than 6 feet away.
Host Emily Soloby and Ayesha talk about Ayesha’s work in STEM outreach for adults and children, how she identifies with her chosen princess Cinderella in Reinvented Magazine’s Princesses with Powertools 2023 calendar, and how she takes her love for physics from the electronics lab to the skatepark.