British Indian Data Scientist named Newcomer of the Year at RailStaff Awards 2023

British Indian Data Scientist named Newcomer of the Year at RailStaff Awards 2023

Transport multinational Alstom, prominent in smart and sustainable mobility, is celebrating after the company’s Data Scientist Smital Dhake was named winner at the RailStaff Awards 2023 in Newcomer of the Year category recently.

The RailStaff Awards date back to 2007 and recognise the great work of the people who work in the rail industry and show appreciation for the people who deliver the UK’s railway. An Equality, Diversity and Inclusion champion, Smital is an active member of Alstom’s Voices of Women staff network. She was recognised for helping to raise awareness of female workplace challenges, champion greater access to advanced career opportunities, challenge the representation of women at senior levels and encourage learning, sharing of ideas, networking and celebrating successes.

Alstom Design Group Manager Mifaz Miftha shared: “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.

“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.”

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Alstom’s first and currently only data scientist in Alstom’s Digital and Integrated Systems (D&IS) UK signalling business, Smital joined the railway specifically to work on the innovative Modular Advanced Route Setting (M-ARS) system at its Hertfordshire base. The UK railway’s first M-ARS system with machine learning techniques (reinforcement learning) are applied to use real-time data to predict future events to enable quicker decision-making to resolve conflicting train movements and 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.

A passionate STEM ambassador, Smital has already visited local schools in Hatfield to talk to students and parents about STEM careers in rail and beyond. Using her own experience, Smital helped to restructure Alstom's STEM Engineering Work Experience programme to incorporate online – as well as an in-person – interactive experience. Leading the week-long programme, which was successfully delivered in July, Smital also delivered practical sessions on artificial intelligence (AI), data science and the railway, which received great feedback.

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Smital was born in Jalgaon, a city in Maharashtra, western India, and later attended Watford Grammar School in England, followed by university at King’s College London. She is 26 years old and is based in Alstom’s Hatfield office. She was, and still is, inspired by her grandparents to always work hard towards your goals. Her ambition is to continue to develop and apply her skills and knowledge to contribute to developing engineering technologies.

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