They say knowledge knows no bounds. It has no qualms about the receiver’s origin, nationality, race, or gender. That is why, from time to time, some individuals challenge norms, break barriers and inspire generations who come after them. One such exceptional icon is Tessy Thomas, who is also known as the “Missile Woman of India” for her huge contribution to India’s missile technology. Her astounding journey in the field of science has become a legend. Tessy Thomas has not only made an unmistakable mark on the world with her work, but she has also emerged as an icon to look up to for the women who want to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Fields.
Early Life and Education
Tessy Thomas had a very humble beginning. She was born in a middle-class family in Alappuzha, Kerala, in April of 1963. Tessy was known to have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge from a very young age. Growing up near Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station in Trivandrum, she used to watch rockets and missiles in wonder and dream of being a part of it.
Tessy attributes her growth and success to her mother, acknowledging that her mother’s dedication was commendable. Despite facing challenges as she was not allowed to work, she single-handedly took care of Tessy and her five sisters and one brother, ensuring they all received a quality education. Tessy recognizes that she has inherited her mother’s strong will, and her perseverance and determination mirror her mother’s qualities.
Fuelled by this encouragement, she excelled throughout her schooling. At St. Joseph’s, her first school, she exhibited an unmatched talent in mathematics and science. Her exceptional performance secured her a scholarship to Thrissur Engineering College.
Inspiration and a way forward
Tessy Thomas had always been fascinated with science and maths, but during her time at Thrissur College, she discovered her true passion. It was Defence and Aerospace Technology. It was here that she chose to specialize in guided missiles.
Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam also played a huge role in inspiring young Tessy. Motivated by his accomplishment, Tessy aimed to make her own mark in India’s missile program. This became a turning point in her life, as she focused on pushing the boundaries of scientific development and bolstering national security.
Her laser focus on the guided missile system was nothing less than a demonstration of her love and commitment to her country. Such a daunting task demanded steady devotion, relentless perseverance, and insatiable hunger for knowledge. With her eyes fixed on a goal, Tessy Thomas started a journey that would redefine gender norms and roles in STEM fields. Her specialization and achievements in guided missile systems have made her an inspiring role model for women who aim to enter the world of science and technology.
After graduating college, Tessy Thomas embarked on an extraordinary journey towards the future she had chosen. She joined the Defense Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) in Hyderabad and impressed everyone with her exceptional deductive skill and steadfast commitment to her work. Her remarkable talent pushed her through the ranks, and before long, she was appointed as a scientist in the revered Missile Complex at the Indian Defense Research and Development Organization.
However, her path to greatness did not come without hurdles. STEM fields, such as many others, had always been heavily dominated by men. And as one of the few women in the field, she had to face gender bias and skepticism every step of the way. Tessy did not let such experiences demotivate her; instead, she channeled those doubtful gazes to fuel her determination to reach her goals. Her relentless pursuit of excellence finally bore fruit, and she emerged victorious.
In her decades-long career, Tessy Thomas has worked on several successful projects. But even among those numerous contributions, her role in the development of Agni IV and Agni V, India’s long-range ballistic missiles, is the most remembered one. With these technological wonders, Tessy helped bolster India’s defence system. She created history by becoming the first-ever woman Project director of India.
Inspiring the Future Generation
Tessy Thomas has set an example for people that gender cannot determine the capability of a person. She has become an icon and a role model for people, especially women, who dream to enter the field of STEM. Tessy and her accomplishments show that gender is not a barrier to success. Her achievements illustrate to all young girls and women that no dream is unattainable. She encourages future generations to pursue their passion and carve the path they want without paying heed to societal expectations.
Tessy Thomas has been actively engaging students from several colleges. She uses her success and platform to reach and deliver motivational talks to the next generation. Her rather colossal repertoire of insights and experience serve as inspiration for those who look up to her as their role model. Due to all the challenges she had to face in the initial days of her career, she teaches how perseverance and dedication can overcome any problems before you.
Tessy Thomas is committed to nurturing talent and empowering women in science and technology. She actively promotes gender equality and inclusivity in the STEM fields. She also provides mentorships to young women aspiring to enter the field. Her dedication to motivating and supporting others is a demonstration of her character. She has been continually working towards her aim of bringing in new and fresh blood in the STEM sector and creating a more inclusive and diverse scientific community.
Tessy Thomas’s incredible journey from a small town in Kerala to become a prominent figure in the world of missile technology is a testament to her unwavering determination and relentless pursuit of excellence. Her groundbreaking contributions have not only advanced India’s defence capabilities but have also served as an inspiration for countless women in STEM fields.
Tessy has shattered barriers and defied expectations. And she has been inspiring a new generation of women to fearlessly pursue their dreams. Her story is a powerful reminder that only passion, perseverance, and unwavering commitment can help make your dreams come true. Tessy’s remarkable achievements and resilience continue to serve as a guiding light, empowering women worldwide to strive for greatness and make their mark in their chosen fields.
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