Ayyalasomayajula Lalitha

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Ayyalasomayajula Lalitha MIEE (27 August 1919 - 12 October 1979) was India's first female engineer.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Ayyalasomayajula Lalitha was born in Madras (now Chennai) on August 27 1919. She was married at 15 and in 1937, gave birth to her daughter Syamala.[2] Her husband died four months later. Her father, Pappu Subba Rao, supported her wish to complete her secondary education and study engineering at the otherwise all-male College of Engineering, Guindy (CEG) where he was a professor.[2]

Lalitha graduated in 1943 with a degree in electrical engineering - becoming India's first woman engineer.[3] She completed her practical training with a one year apprenticeship in Jamalpur Railway Workshop, a major repair and overhaul facility.[2]


After graduation, Lalitha worked at Central Standards Organisation Shimla and helped her father research smokeless ovens and the jelectromonium (an electrical musical instrument).

Keen to make her own living, Lalitha joined a British firm Associated Electrical Industries in Calcutta and worked on the largest dam in India, Bhakra Nangal Dam, designing transmission lines, and substation layouts.

In 1953 the Council of the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE) of London elected her to be an associate member, and promoted to full member in 1966.[2]

Lalitha was the only female engineer from India to have attended the First International Conference of Women Engineers and Scientist (ICWES) in New York in 1964.[3]

Lalitha was elected as a member of the British Women's Engineering Society in 1965 [4] and served as the Organising Committees' India representative for the Second International Conference of Women Engineers and Scientist (ICWES) held in Cambridge in July 1967.[4]

In 1979, she died of a brain aneurysm, aged 55.[5]


  1. ^ Archive, The Telugu (2019-07-24). "India's first female engineer: Lalitha Ayyalasomayajula". Medium. Retrieved 2019-09-21.
  2. ^ a b c d "76: Ayyalasomayajula Lalitha". Magnificent Women. Retrieved 2019-09-21.
  3. ^ a b Mohan, Shantha R., 1948- (2018). Roots and wings : inspiring stories of Indian women in engineering. Notion Press. ISBN 9781644291320. OCLC 1054198087.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ a b "The Woman Engineer". www2.theiet.org. Retrieved 2019-09-23.
  5. ^ "How Lalitha, a single-mother, became India's first woman-engineer in 1940s - NewsBytes". Dailyhunt. Retrieved 2019-09-21.