NAIT Celebrates

Shreya Nandiraju receives the Spirit of NAIT Alumni Award for her success and leadership in the engineering and automation fields.

Shreya Nandiraju

NAIT Celebrates Shreya Nandiraju

A passion for lifelong learning leads to two-time grad’s early career success in engineering and automation

“What drives me personally is to learn something new every day and embrace new challenges – and the discomfort that comes with taking a bit of a risk.”

Growing up, Shreya Nandiraju had an unquenchable curiosity about how things worked. She once dreamed of becoming a neurosurgeon, fascinated by the anatomy and functions of the brain. But technology and engineering ultimately became her passion, leading her to pursue an education in those fields instead.

“I’ve always had a love for critical thinking and solving complex technical challenges,” says the 2024 Spirit of NAIT Alumni Award recipient.

That love has taken her a long way in a short time. Today, Nandiraju is in a strategic position as consultant with KPMG Canada. Also, since 2023, she has served as president of the International Society of Automation (ISA) Edmonton – the first woman, and first woman of colour, in the role.

With the rapid economic development and immense technological innovation that’s happening across the city and the province, it’s an appointment that she takes seriously. It also allows the two-time NAIT grad to exercise her other passions: lifelong learning and making connections between players in a field that is rapidly growing in Alberta.

Lifelong learning a key to career growth

As a NAIT Instrumentation Engineering Technology student, Nandiraju soon discovered how automation works much like a brain. The programming controls countless processes and functions in various industries, such as information technology, manufacturing, mining, oil and gas, construction and more, to help them meet their business outcomes, while supporting a more efficient and safer work environment.

The vast impact of the technology piqued a desire to learn more (a recurring theme throughout her career journey.)

“Every day is filled with new learning for me,” Nandiraju says. “Understanding things in depth to solve problems is a passion of mine.”

For Nandiraju, lifelong learning will always be part of her career journey – she’s already completed an MBA certification from the University of Toronto in 2022. And she’s keen to help others with their efforts in education as well.

After graduating from NAIT with a Bachelor of Technology degree in 2020, Nandiraju has made a point to immerse herself even deeper into the engineering community.

“When it comes to networking, you broaden not only your network, but also your knowledge base, your insight and your worldview,” Nandiraju says.

At ISA, supporting education is central to her efforts to set the vision and strategy for the organization’s several hundred members. Those efforts earned Nandiraju the President’s Leadership Award from the international organization in 2023.

Being involved with ISA Edmonton has also fed Nandiraju’s own curiosity. She’s particularly interested in what’s driving strategic economic and capital investments in industry. Part of that relates to deepening her knowledge on the influence of emerging technologies, like automation, internet of things, cybersecurity, machine learning and artificial intelligence, which are all at the forefront of solving industry challenges.

Developing strong, diverse networks

As chair for the ISA’s artificial intelligence and machine learning committee, Nandiraju’s helping to advance the knowledge of more than 3,000 members worldwide. She’s also taken on the role of strategic partnerships and community engagement lead for Women in AI Canada in Edmonton. As part of those efforts, this May Nandiraju will lead the first-ever panel exploring how they are using automation in fields including engineering and IT.

“Different ideas stem from different experiences,” says Nandiraju, acknowledging that women represent untapped potential. Currently, they are underrepresented in fields that might benefit from or involve automation.

With more perspectives, ideas and learning, Nandiraju knows that the possibilities for the field, and the communities that benefit from it, are endless.

“It’s important that we embrace differences, welcome diverse backgrounds and empower leaders of all levels of experience,” she says.

Being a speaker at ISA Edmonton events has given her the opportunity to network and encourage others to continue learning beyond their diploma or degree. 

“Be open minded,” Nandiraju advises, “And try not to limit yourself. Be courageous, step out of your comfort zone, seek mentorship and advice, meet new people and inspire others in their personal lives and career.”

Story photos supplied by Shreya Nandiraju.

Spirit of NAIT  

The Spirit of NAIT Alumni Award is awarded to alumni who have made exceptional advances or achievements in their career within 12 years of graduation.

More 2024 NAIT Celebrates Recipients

Champions, community-builders, mentors, visionaries and leaders make up the 2024 NAIT Celebrates award recipients. Read more about the lasting impact each has made through their spirit, dedication and generosity.

Sandvik Coromant

Sandvik Coromant is named the Distinguished Industry Partner for their leadership in the community and long-standing support of machinist education.

Ray Pisani

Ray Pisani is named the Distinguished Friend of the Institute for his outstanding contributions to our polytechnic and impact in the community.

Robyn Dawson

Robyn Dawson receives the Distinguished Alumni Award for helping Alberta businesses and communities thrive as a leader in media planning and buying.

Marcie Kiziak

Marcie Kiziak receives the Alumni Award of Excellence for her advocacy of women’s success in business, and her leadership as the CEO of NOVA Cannabis.

Arlo Maverick

Arlo Maverick receives the Alumni Award of Excellence for his support of the community and achievements as an award-winning musician, promoter and filmmaker.

Priya Winsor

Priya Winsor receives the Spirit of NAIT Alumni Award for her career achievements as founder of Compass Chocolates and for her support for the community.

2025 Award Nominations

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