EPIC Women in STEM: The innovative minds behind the laser control systems
08 Mar 2024
- Megan Pritchard



This International Women’s Day 2024, we spoke to Sathvika and Sai Likhitha who shared more about their roles at EPIC (the Extreme Photonics Innovation Centre).

Sai Likhitha, software developer at EPIC.



The Extreme Photonics Innovation Centre is a collaboration between the CLF and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in India funded through UKRI’s Funds for International Collaboration. This joint centre seeks to develop technologies for next-generation laser-driven accelerators (including EPAC), as well as exploring their applications in industrial and bio-medical settings. Read more at their website: Extreme Photonics Innovation Centre – UK-India joint innovation initiative (epic-innovation.org)

Sathvika and Sai Likhitha work in the software engineering section of EPIC, working closely with colleagues in the Control System group in CLF.

Tell me about your role!

Sathvika: “As a Control Systems Software Engineer, my primary responsibility is to write controls software for laser system devices. Right now, I'm working on creating a graphical user interface (GUI) for the specific devices that the scientists who run the control systems utilize. Being a member of the India-based TIFRH (Tata Institute of Fundamental Research Hyderabad), my morning priorities include learning new things and developing. Every day, in the afternoon, we hold a standup where we discuss any concerns pertaining to the UK team and collaborate as needed.”

Sai Likhitha: “I am a software developer specializing in the creation of control systems, with my current project focusing on developing a control system for EPAC.”

What inspired you to pursue science?

Sathvika: “Seeing how the world is developing in many areas, such as technology, health, and other novelties, truly inspired me. I started to solve problems and make decisions as a result of this.”

Sai Likhitha: “My fascination with tech goes way back to when I was just a kid, seeing how seamlessly gadgets became part of everyday life. But it wasn't until college when things really took off. Taking a coding workshop felt like I stumbled upon a whole new universe of possibilities. Since then, I've been interested in coding projects, geeking out at tech conferences, and checking out all the cool emerging stuff. And let me tell you, each time I dive into something new, it just reinforces my belief that tech can really change the world for the better. I mean, think about it—using tech to make beams align or to control a device placed in vacuum? That's the kind of stuff that gets me going. My journey is all about chasing that curiosity, solving problems, and dreaming up ways to make our future brighter through innovation.”

Sai_Likhitha (2).jpeg
Sai Likhitha is a software developer at EPIC. ​

What has your career journey towards working at EPIC been like?

Sathvika: “It's been a great experience because there is a lot to learn about different technologies, you can meet new people from many backgrounds, and you can work on a variety of interesting and challenging projects.”

Sai Likhitha: “Upon joining EPIC, my understanding of lasers and control systems was quite limited. However, over the past four years, I've had the opportunity to immerse myself in these fields and expand my knowledge significantly. Throughout this time, I've been consistently encouraged to explore new ideas, implement them, and continuously learn without any hindrance.”

What do you love about your role?

Sathvika: “I work with both software and hardware, so it would be interesting to watch the outputs change in real time. Because it requires collaborating with other teams, it also helped me get better at communicating.”

Sai Likhitha: “I find so many things about my job incredibly fulfilling. One standout memory is when I first tested the software I created on a device and saw it work flawlessly. That feeling of pure joy and accomplishment was unforgettable. Besides that, I love delving into different labs and discovering the fascinating projects and research they're working on. What really makes my workplace special is the teamwork mentality—we're all working together towards common goals, rather than trying to outdo each other. And on top of all that, I also get the chance to travel, which is a fantastic bonus.”

Why is being a woman in STEM important to you?

Sathvika: “It can assist me in solving some global difficulties and offering an alternative viewpoint.”

Sai Likhitha: “As a modern woman in STEM, I believe it’s crucial to advocate for gender diversity in these fields. Diversity drives innovation. Women bring unique perspectives, problem solving and creativity to the table. By promoting diversity in STEM, we can foster environments where different voices are heard and valued, leading to more innovative solutions to complex problems. Personally, being in STEM allows me to pursue my passion for science and technology while also making a meaningful impact on the world. Ultimately my presence in STEM is important to me because it represents progress towards more diverse, equitable and inclusive future.”

Contact: Pritchard, Megan (STFC,RAL,CLF)