Ohio State minds among 2021 SWE 'Women Engineers you should know' feature

Posted: June 7, 2021

The Society of Women Engineers highlighted the best and brightest of global minds for its latest issue.

Among the "Women engineers you should know" focus, The Ohio State University College of Engineering Dean Ayanna Howard and alumna Niyati Tamaskar are featured alongside diverse peers from around the world. Both are electrical and computer engineering scholars.

"Today’s women engineers are multidimensional. They are serial entrepreneurs and educators. They are inventors and pioneers in new and existing technologies. They are key members of technical teams, where they are breaking barriers for themselves and others in ways that improve and benefit society now and into the future. They are also partners, spouses, mothers, daughters, friends, and members of a wider community," the article states. "These women have learned how to adapt through life’s twists and turns. They keep going, then circle back with their stories, offering priceless mentorship, role modeling, and outreach to other women."

ayanna howard

Roboticist, educator, entrepreneur, role model — Howard is the first woman to lead the Ohio State College of Engineering. Previously, she served as chair of the School of Interactive Computing in the College of Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology, teaching machine learning and robotics. Throughout her career, her belief that “every engineer has the responsibility to make the world a better place” has run like a golden thread.

She holds a Ph.D. in electrical engineering with a minor in computer science. She spent 13 years in robotics research and development at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and 16 years at the Georgia Institute of Technology. In 2013, Dr. Howard co-founded Zyrobotics, a Georgia Tech spinoff, which uses machine learning and robots to make educational toys for children with special needs.

Among her many accolades is a spot on Forbes magazine’s America’s Top 50 Women in Tech. Dr. Howard is also a tenured professor in OSU’s department of electrical and computer engineering, with a joint appointment in computer science and engineering.

Throughout her career, Dr. Howard has been active in helping to diversify the engineering profession for women, underrepresented minorities, and individuals with disabilities.


Tamaskar is an electrical and computer engineer with 15 years’ experience developing electronic controls for machine and engine applications. Her love of engineering is equaled by her dedication as North American leader for Cummins Women in Technology, and she promotes STEM education and engineering careers among minorities.

At 34, Tamaskar was diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer. She was breastfeeding her second child at the time. Growing up in India, she found discussion of serious illness was often discouraged. Tamaskar chose not to be silent, writing a 2019 memoir about her cancer journey. She donates all proceeds of Unafraid: A Survivor’s Quest for Human Connection to the American Cancer Society. Unafraid was featured in Forbes magazine as one of eight books that will help to spark human connection.

Tamaskar connects with women of color with breast cancer locally and nationally. She helps navigate medical jargon, sheds light on reconstruction processes, and brainstorms strategies, nourishing their self-advocacy. Tamaskar has given talks on “the power of vulnerability” at Cummins Inc. and has given a TEDx talk on the cultural bias and stigma associated with cancer.

She volunteers for Girls Inc. and is part of Cummins’ engineering recruiting team for The Ohio State University. She currently lives in Columbus, Indiana, with her husband and two children.

Find the full story at SWE Magazine.