Atcha Kopwitthaya - 2022 SPIE Women in Optics Planner
Researcher/Team Leader, Photonics Technology Research Team
National Electronics and Computer Technology Center
Born in Thailand
When I was young, my mom bought me a sticker book. Inside that book there were stories of astronomical objects and spacecrafts. I fell in love in that moment with that content and knew I needed to find out how to become a physicist. And that was the beginning of my passion for sciences. Many years later, I got a scholarship to study physics. It was a great moment in my life.
Becoming a researcher at the National Research Center is very different from what I expected. Knowledge in sciences is definitely required but not enough. This is because my primary responsibility is to make a prototype from what I know in the sciences and deliver it to users. Therefore, some other skills such as team management, customer understanding, or even business networking are necessary to learn. In the meantime, my job is also focusing on publishing the data for the greater scientific community as well.
In the beginning of my career, many frustrating things happened because I had to work with many people from different departments. Of course, I preferred talking with scientists or engineers in my field because we quickly understood each other. But things were different when I had a conversation with people outside of my fields. Therefore, I tried very hard to make sure that every stakeholder saw and understood the same thing. It was tough but challenging. Every day, even now, I am still trying to understand and communicate better with the people I talk to.
Starting out I was so lucky to have good mentors. My boss and colleagues told me what organizations expected from me and gave me opportunities to prove myself.
Careers in STEM are full of fun because technology is changing very fast. If you are a person who loves to learn new things, you will not regret it. However, another important thing I should mention is trying to unite people who have same passion. Scientific experiments are not easy and many times it means failure. Passion will be the only thing that makes you carry on. If you are a person who loves taking risks to find the next new thing, make sure that your team loves it too.