Smital Dhake wins ‘Newcomer of the Year’ at UK Railstaff Awards

15th December 2023
Smital Dhake wins ‘Newcomer of the Year’ at UK Railstaff Awards
Smital Dhake with her Newcomer of Year award at the (UK) Railstaff Awards

By Anand Parthasarathy
December 15, 2023:  Indian-origin data scientist Smital Dhake was recently named ‘Newcomer of the Year’ at the annual Railstaff Awards, held in Birmingham, which recognize and honour contributions to the UK railways at all levels.
The 26-year-old, originally from Jalgaon, Maharashtra, went to Watford Grammar School in England for her secondary education before returning to India to earn a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Electronics and Telecommunications from Poona University in 2019. 
Returning to the UK, she  earned  an MSc in Robotics  from King’s College Londo and after  a short stint with the Embedded Systems group of mobile chip makers, Qualcomm, she joined  France-headquartered  global  transportation specialist, Alstom in their Hatfield, Hertfordshire base in the UK.
Working  for  a customer, UK’s railways,  she  helped  develop  an innovative Modular Advanced Route Setting (M-ARS) system at its. This is the railways’ first M-ARS system where machine learning techniques are applied to use real-time data which the help  predict future events to enable quicker decision-making. This helps  to resolve conflicting train movements,  thereby increasing the efficiency of the railway.
The M-ARS system is currently undergoing Network Rail product approval and Smital is instrumental to the process. Once approved, M-ARS will be delivered on a number of high-profile projects including Ashford, Cambridge, East West Rail Phase 2 and Victoria Phase 5.
Last month, Smital’s contribution to the  M-ARS system  saw her named ‘Newcomer of the Year’ at the annual Railstaff Awards, which recognize and honour  contributions  to  the railways at all levels.
Says  Alstom Design Group Manager, Mifaz Miftha:“Smital is a fast learner who always finds ways to seek knowledge and grow herself in an exponential manner. She regularly takes on much more complex tasks above her role and delivers them with full commitment and with a high level of accuracy. Her meticulous approach to problem-solving and critical thinking on design have made Smital an asset to Alstom and the wider railway industry where innovation and sustainability are key to growth.”
In her spare time Smital is an evangelist  for STEM ( Science, Technology, Engineering Mathematics), visiting local schools and also helping structure Alstom’s own STEM work experience programme.
Adds Miftha: “Smital is also an enormous inspiration to young women who are thinking of pursuing a career in engineering or the STEM category. Smital has used her own time to visit numerous schools promoting careers in engineering and sustainability.”
The runner-up in the Newcomer of the Year award also went to  a colleague of Smital at Alstom, systems engineer Kalen Ruddock.
Alstom has a large presence in India with six industrial sites and two engineering centres and is involved in supplying rolling stock and other rail equipment, particularly to the metro rail systems.

This article has also appeared in NewIndiaAbroad