stories from women in manufacturing

Pri’s Story: From Strong Manufacturing Student to Proud Producer

Pri’s Story: From strong manufacturing student to proud producer
How Priyansha Nayak went from a manual machine operator in Mumbai to a top-tier mechanical engineer

As a child, Priyansha “Pri” Nayak would often play with gears and wrenches instead of traditional toys. Born in India and brought up in an industrial environment, Pri always had an inquisitive mind.

Priyansha’s grandfathers, her primary sources of inspiration, were innovators in the engineering world. Her maternal great-grandfather was a maintenance engineer, while her paternal great-grandfather started as a machinist and worked his way to one of the first gear manufacturers in Mumbai.

Priyansha is the only female in her family to earn a formal mechanical engineering degree. In India, she obtained her Bachelor’s of Engineering in Mechanical Branch — working on manual lathes and milling machines, and making sure she got her hands dirty on the school’s shop floor.

“Machines have always excited me,” Nayak noted. “Since childhood, the noise of the gears turning gave me goosebumps.”

From educational research to engineering reality 

When Pri was only 21 years old, she moved to the United States alone.

“As an independent woman, I wanted to do something on my own and carve my own path to success,” Pri stated.

Eager to expand her knowledge on more complex mechanisms than the manual apparatuses she grew accustomed to in India, “I knew I had to learn from scratch.”

After visiting Connecticut, Pri discovered that the New England state had an incredible manufacturing history. When looking for an education in the latest technology, she was excited to find Goodwin University’s CNC Machining, Metrology, and Manufacturing Technology program.

In 2019, Priyansha moved to Connecticut, enrolled in Goodwin’s accelerated CNC program, and graduated with her certificate in less than six months.

“The entire experience was beyond my imagination,” Priyansha enlightened.

“Goodwin’s CNC program was all-encompassing. I learned a combination of inspection, manufacturing, and production. We started out with basic computer numerical control (CNC) programming and elevated to multidirectional approaches in machine cutting and rotating capabilities,” Nayak explained.

“We were also exposed to Coordinate Measuring Machine (CMM) programming, so while we machined our parts, we also inspected them.

“One of the best parts about the program was the internship opportunities Goodwin offered,” Pri recognized.

“In the first week, we already had companies coming in to offer internships. I started training at an aerospace manufacturer while still attending college, and it all worked in harmony,” she specified.

“Goodwin has great relationships with the Connecticut manufacturing industry, and those opportunities gave students a launchpad for success.”

Daring to do something different 

“I always knew that I wanted to be a mechanical engineer, but my family shamed me for dreaming about a manufacturing career,” Pri revealed. “My cousins who ran a manufacturing business in India would mock me that I was just an engineer and that I only had theoretical knowledge. People also often insulted me that being a girl, I never dirtied my hands.”

“While working toward my bachelor’s degree in India, I was one of three girls in a class of 80 boys,” Pri disclosed. “If I received good grades, my male classmates disrespected me for it, remarking that I only got good grades because I was an ‘attractive girl.’ Then, if I happened to get a bad grade, the comments changed to, ‘See, this is not a career for girls.’

There was no winning.

“On the contrary, during my entire CNC programming courses at Goodwin, all my professors and peers supported me. I was the only female in my cohort, but I never received any different treatment. I was always expected to work just as hard as the guys, and I think that’s really important, too,” Pri emphasized.

“The moment you start drawing borders between guys and girls, that’s when we lose the whole point of equality. I never had the idea to prove people wrong and show them that a girl can do anything. Of course, I respect that ideology, but I don’t believe in doing something to solely prove or show the world my capabilities. My motto is ‘Whatever you do, just give it your best.’ That way, if you are doing something right, it will be seen and reflected positively back to you,” Priyansha encouraged.

“I will also never forget the day when one of my Goodwin professors acknowledged the hardships of being a woman in this industry, but he also taught me how to grow from it and build myself better. I can’t thank my instructors enough for where I am today. They helped me throughout the program and professionally trained me for an amazing career.”

Fabricating her future 

Priyansha currently works as a manufacturing mechanical engineer for Timken Aerospace Drive Systems (ADS), a company connected to Goodwin’s College Central Network.

“I’m in charge of manufacturing and production planning,” Pri described. “I’m constantly on rounds for production, purchasing, quality, and planning support.

“If there happens to be an issue on the shop floor like a production breakdown, I am the point of contact engineer. I am also the lead engineer for several customers — responsible for contract reviews, quality assistance, implementation of improvements, and final inspections.”

Since graduating from Goodwin, Priyansha also programs CNC machines and provides audit assistance for quality management systems.

“I am grateful that Goodwin introduced me to this company,” she indicated. “Timken is a huge team and one big family — we take pride in what we do, and I was honored to be considered an essential worker for our country in 2020.”

As for women moving into the manufacturing industry, “Women bring a lot of different dynamics to the table,” Priyansha acknowledged. “We often demoralize ourselves for being too complex, but that’s one of the best qualities we can offer when it comes to this career. Women add so much depth during the design process and tend to manage economically — using simple materials to get maximum outcomes.”

Regarding any advice for female fabricators considering manufacturing careers, “Always respect your journey and work to keep getting better,” Pri advised. “I often tell myself, ‘I am built with every mistake I make,’ and continue to focus on the path of constant growth.

“For all the women out there considering work in the manufacturing field, I just want to say, don’t limit yourself to a career based on outdated gender roles. We do not have the right to say we need equality if we don’t consider ourselves equal in the first place. Rise above. Do not be afraid to get your hands dirty. Break the barriers, and don’t shy away from showing your true potential. You don’t know what you are missing out on if you don’t take a leap of faith. You are stronger than you think you are, and you can have it all.

“And for the friends and family of a woman pursuing a manufacturing profession, please support her in all her endeavors. I cannot imagine my life if it weren’t for my biggest cheerleaders, my parents. You never know what battle a woman is fighting in today’s world, so stand your ground and show your support in any way possible.”

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