Dr. Tessy Thomas earned a Ph.D. in Missile Guidance from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU), Hyderabad in 2014 and obtained an MBA in Operations Management from Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), New Delhi, in 2007.
Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam is renowned as the ‘Missile Man’ of India, but few are aware that India also has a ‘Missile Woman.’ Dr. Tessy Thomas, a senior scientist at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), holds this distinction. Her remarkable journey began in a small village in Kerala and led her to become a prominent scientist and the Director General of Aeronautical Systems at the DRDO.
Born in April 1963 in Thathampally, Kerala, Dr. Tessy Thomas always harbored a fascination with science and technology. Growing up near the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Stations, her interest in rockets and missiles deepened.
Dr. Tessy Thomas completed her schooling at St Michael Higher Secondary School and St Joseph Girl’s Higher Secondary School. She later pursued a B.Tech in Electrical Engineering in 1983 from the University Of Calicut and then a DRDO-sponsored ME in Guided Missiles from the Institute of Armament Technology.
In 2014, Dr Tessy Thomas also obtained a Ph.D. in Missile Guidance from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU), Hyderabad, and an MBA in Operations Management from Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), New Delhi, in 2007.
According to reports, Dr. Tessy Thomas initially aspired to become an IAS officer and even appeared for the UPSC exam. However, she cleared her DRDO interview first and seized the opportunity that came her way.
In 1986, Dr. Tessy Thomas joined IAT, Pune as a faculty member in Guided Missiles. She has been associated with the Agni Programme since its developmental flights. Dr Tessy Thomas played a pivotal role in designing the guidance scheme for long-range missile systems used in all Agni missiles, earning her the Agni Self Reliance Award in 2001.
Throughout her extensive 32-year career, Dr. Tessy Thomas has been a guiding force in various fields such as Guidance, Control, Inertial Navigation, Trajectory Simulation, and Mission Design.
Additionally, Dr Tessy Thomas served as the Project Director for AGNI-4 and the Project Director (Mission) for the long-range AGNI-5 system.
Over the course of her illustrious career, Dr Tessy Thomas has received numerous awards. Some of her accolades include the DRDO Agni Award for Excellence in Self-Reliance (2001), the DRDO Award for Path-breaking Research/Outstanding Technology Development (2007), the DRDO Scientist of the Year Award (2008), the DRDO Performance Excellence Award for Agni 4 (2011), the DRDO Performance Excellence Award for Agni 5 (2012), the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Award for Excellence in Public Administration Academics and Management (2012), the Suman Sharma Award by The Institution of Engineers (India), National Design and Research Forum for Engineering Design (2009), the Smt.
Chandaben Mohanbhai Patel Industrial Research Award for Women Scientists (2009) by VASVIK, the Maharana Udai Singh Award by Maharana Mewar Foundation Annual Awards for Contribution in the field of S&T (2013), and the Madam Marie Curie Mahila Vijnana Puraskar (2012), among others.
Dr Tessy Thomas’ story is one of unwavering dedication and serves as an inspiration for women venturing into the realms of science and technology.