Interview Series
 
Diversity in STEM with Jyotika Athavale

The Diversity and Inclusion Task Force presents Diversity in STEM, with Jyotika Athavale, a Senior Technical Leader in Functional Safety at Nvidia Corporation. Prior to this, she worked as Principal Engineer and lead Functional Safety Architect at Intel Corporation. She is a recognized industry expert with in-depth technical knowledge of dependable technologies and architectures for Automotive, Transportation and Avionics Safety Critical Systems. Based in the US, her 24 years of industry career experience in the semiconductor and EDA industry has spanned technical leadership positions as well as people management roles.

We are thrilled to bring you our discussion on her career growth, overcoming challenges, and how volunteering with IEEE Computer Society has given her a global perspective to computing.

Why did you choose your current technical field?

Jyotika AthavaleAfter graduating with a Masters degree in Electrical Engineering I started my career in EDA, prior to joining Intel where I pursued reliability modeling and architecture, and then later began work in the area of functional safety architecture for automotive and avionics. I then continued to focus on automotive functional safety, which is my current technical field at Nvidia. This field is interesting to me because it leverages my past experience and expertise in reliability and radiation effects for an emerging technology that has relevance across multiple application domains. I’ve always enjoyed researching a new and challenging area, and I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the safety engineering field that I am passionate about.

What’s been your greatest challenge and your greatest reward in your professional career?

Jyotika AthavaleThroughout my career, I’ve enjoyed the journey of learning, researching and applying my skills to the needs of my day job. As I continued to develop my technical and academic mindset, my greatest challenge was tailoring my research and pathfinding work to the needs of the evolving business environment. It was this intersection that was in fact also pivotal to my career and once I found the area where I could apply my technical expertise to the needs of the market, I experienced the greatest reward. I find the technical problem solving in my daily work to be immensely satisfying. It invokes my engineering core and keeps me motivated each day.

What have you found rewarding about being an IEEE and/or Computer Society member and/or volunteer?

Jyotika AthavaleI joined the IEEE initially as a student member in graduate school, when I published my first IEEE paper based on my university research. I was very grateful for this opportunity. I stayed connected with IEEE through my professional career and decided to get more actively involved as a volunteer, so as to contribute to this great community. I continued to author papers and publications, serve as a committee member in IEEE conferences, participate as a panelist and speaker and I now serve as chair of the IEEE P2851 standard, and board member of the IEEE Computer Society Board of Governors. All these volunteer roles and experiences have been greatly rewarding as I aspire to motivate the next generation of engineers and technologists to pursue the engineering disciplines.

What's your best advice for individuals who are ready to make a change in their careers?

Jyotika AthavaleBased on my experience, expecting changes in one’s career is not only inevitable, but it’s something that should be proactively pursued. As rightly quoted by Heraclitus , “Change is the only constant” and change in one’s career is a great way to learn, grow and thrive. It is natural to resist change due to fear and inertia, and I felt the same way early on in my career. But having embraced it later on, I felt tremendously rewarded. My advice to individuals would be to consider informed risks in changing careers, and to be unafraid to pursue their passion. It is true that changes are sometimes not successful, but there is always a path forward, and we continue to grow with every transition.

Have you ever been a mentor? If so, what did you learn from the experience?

Jyotika AthavaleI’ve had the honor of serving as a mentor to several engineers during my professional journey. I gained a lot of perspective from my mentees, their aspirations and energies. The nurturing experience has always been very rewarding and similar in many ways to the parenting experience in my personal life. Every interaction with my mentees left me also reflecting on my own skills and helped me grow as a person and a technical leader. It also made me realize how important this role is, it is not only beneficial to the mentee and the mentor, but helps teams and organizations to flourish and thrive.


About Jyotika Athavale:

 

Jyotika Athavale is a Senior Technical Leader in Functional Safety at Nvidia Corporation. Prior to this she worked as Principal Engineer and lead Functional Safety Architect at Intel Corporation. She is a recognized industry expert with in-depth technical knowledge of dependable technologies and architectures for Automotive, Transportation and Avionics Safety Critical Systems. Based in the US, her 24 years of industry career experience in the semiconductor and EDA industry has spanned technical leadership positions as well as people management roles.

Jyotika is currently leading and influencing international standards activities in the area of functional safety and dependability. She chairs the IEEE P2851 standard on functional safety interoperability and is a board member of the IEEE Computer Society Board of Governors. Jyotika also serves as a Distinguished Visitor with the IEEE Computer Society. Jyotika has authored several IEEE publications and is a core member of the IEEE CS Special Technical Community for Reliable, Safe, Secure and Time Deterministic Intelligent Systems. She holds a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Iowa State University.