Dr. Seetha Lakshmi: Pioneering Database Technologist


Seetha headshot

Seetha Lakshmi graduated in 1972 from the College of Engineering, Guindy (CEG), with a degree in electronics and communication engineering.  She went on to get a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Texas, Austin (the second woman Ph.D. from CEG!).

Growing up, Seetha enjoyed playing with her brother’s Meccano set, fixing her grandmother’s broken radio, making dyes from vegetable scraps, and coming up with ways to automate her mother’s kitchen chores. She had no interest in and was bored stiff with history and language arts classes. Biology made her squeamish. A future in humanities or medicine was out of the question. Her whole family was very supportive and proud of her when she chose to become an engineer.

When she joined CEG, in the first week she asked the principal if she was allowed to use the beautiful Olympic size swimming pool, only to be told its not for girls!

1972 Girls

Seetha (second from right) and the other 1972 batch women.  Image courtesy: Seetha Lakshmi

Seetha says “Looking back, being one of the five girls in a batch of 200 boys, being a minority in a mostly male CEG community, and later being one of two women officers at  the Defense Research Labs (DRDL) in the 70s, have all helped me be comfortable and confident in my own skin anywhere and everywhere.”

While working at DRDL after graduation, Seetha was fortunate to be exposed to the then cutting edge technologies such as microprocessors for missile guidance and control systems. Her fascination with microprocessors led her to pursue a doctorate in computer sciences at The University of Texas, Austin, making her the first woman Ph.D. from CEG!

Seetha with Mohan C & Anand Tripathi

Seetha with fellow graduate students Mohan C. & Anand Tripathi – Image courtesy Mohan C.

Seetha started her US career at IBM’s prestigious T. J. Watson Research Lab in New York. Her pioneering publications on parallel minicomputer database system performance propelled IBM to expand it’s database offerings from mainframe to networked workstations. After a fulfilling 40-year technology career at DRDL, IBM, HP, Teradata, and a few silicon valley start-ups, she now serves her local communities. She is on the boards of Santa Clara Library District Foundation and Cupertino Library Foundation, volunteers for an adult literacy program, and mentors high school students in under-served communities.

While Seetha credits her parents for a phenomenal education they gave her, she credits her husband Piyush Gupta for being a true life partner supporting her career and contributing equally to bringing up two wonderful children who are now responsible, compassionate, and happy adults.

When Seetha is not embracing her inner geek, she hikes the mountains and trails around the world with her family and friends.

Her advice to both women and men entering technical fields:

“Don’t be afraid to blaze your own trail; be socially responsible engineers and leaders.”

Well said, Seetha!

Note: On July 27, 2021, I discovered that Narayani, who graduated from CEG in 1962 had gotten a Ph.D. from the Imperial College of Science & Technology, University of London. I made the correction to say Seetha is the second woman to receive a Ph.D.

23 thoughts on “Dr. Seetha Lakshmi: Pioneering Database Technologist

  1. Three cheers to my stellar cousin. Very nice to go through your journey some of which I learnt through this. Kudos and Congrats on a lifetime of accomplishments and more to come.


  2. Congratulations…for the great achievements…I have always admired you as a person.
    With lots of love and blessings…..👌🕉


  3. Seetha Laxmi is a woman who refuse to rest honourably on her Laurels-successes & achievements on her retirement. For her age is not important. She believes in “IF YOU REST, YOU RUST”.
    Proud & Honoured to be part of Your family.


  4. I am proud to be the eldest sister of the Great little sister of mine about whom i was proud right from the day she got her admission in the Guindy Engineering colloege.
    All the best for your continuous inspiration for others.
    Here i can also add up my achievement of having been the only woman Cost accountant of my batch in 1962 and the II lady Cost accountant in India .


    • Great to see your comment, Visalam! Trust you are staying safe and healthy. And kudos on your achievement of being the only woman cost accountant of your batch in 1962 and second lady Cost accountant in India. ! Bravo!


  5. Wow, Seetha, I am feeling very happy after reading about you and the comments from other people. Without doubt you are an exceptional girl, and what I like most about you is your candor and a no nonsense approach. Your ability to put the other person at ease. Your wit. God bless you. Love, Aarti


  6. Seetha, great to see the recognition you richly deserve for all your achievements, contributions and being a role model!


  7. Happy to know about Seethlakshmi ! We were in a batch doing a practical project on land surveying around CEG in 1968 as part of our curriculum (as part of C & D batch – second year ). May God bless her and her family with best of health and happiness !!


  8. Congratulations to Seetha on her achievements.I still remember helping her to lift survey instrument during our survey camp around kotturpuram.I think there were only 4 girls in our batch whereas she has reported5.
    Nice memories of college days.How wonderful were those days I often recollect


  9. Dear Dr.Seethalakshmi
    Happy to hear nice about your achievements. I was in contact with you when we did course at IAT,Pune and DRDL,Hyderabad.Afterwards contact was known when Mahendran met you in US.All the best keep the CEG 72 Flag flying high.
    Thankyou,and Komanshu.


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