Inside UL interviewed Project Engineer Sharika Chowdhury to learn more about how she meets the challenges she faces every day within UL’s Wire and Cable division. A graduate of New York University, Polytechnic School of Engineering, she received a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering. Chowdhury applies what she learned in school and the experience she gains every day on the job to further our mission and personally help make a safer and better world.
[Inside UL] How much testing do you typically do in a week?
[Sharika Chowdhury] It varies, but I would say in a week I send at least two or three projects to the laboratory for testing. Projects also vary in duration; some tests can be as short as four hours, while others can be as long as 24 weeks.
[Inside UL] When you were in college, how much did they teach you about marks and standards?
[Sharika Chowdhury] It was very limited, I would say. Maybe in my senior year, we learned a little about the National Electrical Code® (NEC ) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). But again that was limited. It wasn't until I started at UL that I became more familiar with codes and Standards.
[Inside UL] How did you get up to speed at UL on all the different codes and all the different Standards that apply to products?
[Sharika Chowdhury] It was a lot of training from my teammates, and I still have a lot to learn. I'm continually learning best practices about product applications. I also try to witness tests being conducted in the laboratory. It's mainly ongoing training and experience. With time and exposure, you eventually gain a better understanding of how to manage and engineer projects.
[Inside UL] What kind of innovations and new products have you seen in the wire and cable industry? Are they different in sustainability or product design?
[Sharika Chowdhury] We are constantly offering new services to our customers to stay relevant. One example of such a program is our low smoke halogen-free (LSHF) service offering. We evaluate the compounds that are used in cables and assess the levels of smoke and halogen content that the cable contains. The program helps manufacturers ensure the smoke and toxic gases emitted from their cable isn’t detrimental to humans or sensitive electronic equipment.
[Inside UL] The work you're doing is centered around building trust into products. Are there examples of how you see yourself as building trust in products or in services and working for a safer world?
[Sharika Chowdhury] Yes, I think that's exactly what UL is all about; trust. We subject wires and cables to mechanical tests, flame tests, and electrical tests so we can give the manufacturers and their customers peace of mind. UL does so much more than just that though. When customers pick up a product and see the UL Mark, they can trust that the product has been evaluated to applicable Standards and is certified to not pose a fire, electrical, chemical or mechanical hazard. I think that's important because it helps make a safer and better world.
[Inside UL] How do you help satisfy our customers?
[Sharika Chowdhury] In Wire and Cable, our customers have customers so a lot of the time our customers need project updates to provide to their customers. “Did the sample pass this test?” “How much longer until we receive all the test results?” We've had instances where we scope a project one way and then the customer tells us, "Our customer actually wants something totally different now," and that will involve re-scoping the project. So, it's constantly working with the customer and being flexible. I try to focus on helping them and they're happy working with UL.
[Inside UL] What are you most excited about day-to-day?
[Sharika Chowdhury] I'm just happy to come into the office and put forth my best work, satisfying customers, collaborating with teammates and meeting my manager's expectations. Doing my job well matters a lot to me.