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Jamia’s woman faculty member breaks into male bastion, creates history

Dr. Mini Shaji Thomas, Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and founder director of the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE), Jamia Millia Islamia, has been appointed as the director of National Institute of Technology, Tiruchirappalli (NIT, Trichy), the first woman to head the institution.

Dr. Thomas, who has done extensive research in the area of Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems, Substation & Distribution Automation and Smart Grid, has been appointed by the President of India, a communication from the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) Government of India said.

NIT Trichy is one of the best NITs in India and Dr. Thomas will be first woman Director at NIT Trichy and the only lady among the current Directors of IITs and NITs, the premier technical institutions in the country.

Besides being director, CIE, she has served Jamia as Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Technology. She was the Central Public Information officer (CPIO) of Jamia from 2008 to 2014 and the Head of the Department of Electrical Engineering from 2005 to 2008.

Earlier, Dr. Thomas was a faculty member at Delhi College of Engineering, Delhi (now DTU), and at the REC (now NIT), Calicut, Kerala before joining Jamia.

She graduated from University of Kerala (Gold Medallist), completed her M. Tech from IIT Madras (Gold Medallist, Siemen’s prize) and Ph.D. from IIT Delhi, all in Electrical Engineering.

Dr Thomas has set up the first of its kind SCADA laboratory and Substation Automation (SA) Laboratory at Jamia with Industry involvement. She, as the founder coordinator, drafted the curriculum, started a unique, first full-time, MTech programme in the Faculty of Engineering and Technology, Jamia, in 2003 in Electrical Power System Management, with industry participation, which has courses on power automation and novel hands-on training.

For these contributions, Dr. Thomas won the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Educational Activities Board (EAB) Meritorious Achievement Award 2015 for ‘Design and Development of curriculum and laboratory facilities for professionals and students in the electric utility industry”.

She is the author of the text book ‘Power System SCADA and Smart Grids’ by CRC Press, Taylor and Francis, USA and is a ‘Distinguished Lecturer’ of IEEE Power & Energy Society.

As the founder Director of Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Jamia, Dr Thomas has created an environment of Innovation and Entrepreneurship which has led to the setting up of a Design Innovation Centre, a Livelihood Business Incubator, doubling the number of patents filed, winning prizes at many innovation competitions and incubating a few student startups.

She has published over 130 research papers in International Journals and Conferences of repute and has successfully completed many research projects, and is the coordinator of the Special Assistance Programme (SAP) on Power System Automation from UGC, Government of India. She is also a reviewer of reputed journals in her field.

Dr Thomas received the ‘Career Award’ for young teachers, Govt. of India; won the IEEE Power and Energy Society Outstanding Chapter Chair award 2013, IEEE Member and Geographic Activities (MGA) Innovation award 2008, IEEE Outstanding Volunteer award 2005, IEEE Outstanding Branch counselor award 2002 and Power and Energy Society (PES) Outstanding Chapter Engineer award.

She is a certified trainer for ‘Capacity building of Women managers in higher education’, by UGC and has conducted many training session for Women empowerment.

Dr Thomas is very active in Professional societies and she is among the very few people from Asia Pacific to be on the global boards of IEEE. She is currently a board member of IEEE PSPB (Publication Services and Products Board), a member of PES LRP (Long Range Planning) committee. She was a board member of IEEE EAB and served as the vice chair of IEEE MGA Board and was the Asia Pacific student activities coordinator.

She has experience of over a decade in international boards and committees of the IEEE.

Dr. Thomas has travelled extensively, delivered lectures in prestigious universities and has interacted with technical experts from all over the world.

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