Dr Neena Panandikar, Principal of Don Bosco College of Engineering (DBCE), shares her journey through tearing down boundaries and soaring greater heights in the field of education
Dr Neena Panandikar, a seasoned educator with over a double decade long career in the field of education, is an expressive speaker, a passionate teacher, and a motivational administrator, frequently invited as a member on a multitude of boards of organisations in Goa. She juggles a host of roles and responsibilities in education, industry, and society, with astounding efficiency.
Dr Panandikar has also led and been an integral part of a range of initiatives at both institute and Goa University levels. As a member of the Board of Studies, she has effectively contributed to the process of curriculum development as well as the corpus of global research through her paper publications.
Dr Panandikar graduated from Goa College of Engineering in 1992, a time when engineering was not considered a socially normative career path for women. Faced with having to choose between dentistry and civil engineering, she finally opted for the latter on the advice of her father. After graduation, she joined Nasnodkar & Associates as a design engineer under training and worked as a site engineer at Lawande & Associates, thereafter.
Dr Panandikar married in 1994 and decided to devote herself, solely, to her family following the birth of her son. Her desire to work in the field of education, however, remained strong, prompting her to begin with tuitions for students of standard 12 from within her vicinity.
However, she was destined for more and destiny came knocking at her door in 1997 when Padre Conceicao College of Engineering (PCCE) established its campus in Goa. A position for visiting lecturer in civil engineering opened at the institute and Dr Panandikar decided to apply. Her efforts bore fruit and she was selected out of 20 candidates. This was her first foray into the realm of education.
Later in 2005, she went ahead and completed her M.Tech in Structural Engineering from the National Institute of Technology, Karnataka (NITK), Surathkal. As a mother, she was faced with the challenge of leaving behind her son, who was only 7 at the time. Nonetheless, Dr Panandikar resolved to give it her all and proceeded to pursue her ambition.
“I received strong backing from my husband and complete support from my in-laws due to which I was able to follow my passion with complete dedication. The able guidance of the then Principal of PCCE, late Dr Shastry, taught me a lot about leadership qualities. I am honestly indebted to him; he inspired me to pursue my higher studies and motivated me to do my post-graduation at the reputed Institution,” shares Dr Panandikar. She also extends her gratitude to the management of PCCE for granting her study leave to pursue her post-graduate studies.
Dr Panandikar worked at PCCE for 19 long years, during which she rose from visiting lecturer to Associate Professor (2014). She also received numerous accolades at the institute including Best Teacher for the year 2001-02 and 2002-03, demonstrating her passion and dedication to the field.
In 2015, her thirst for knowledge led her to acquire a PhD in Structural Engineering from NITK, Surathkal. The following year got her the opportunity to work as a Professor at Don Bosco College of Engineering (DBCE) and she was granted the additional responsibility of Officiating Principal. The very next year, in 2017, Dr Panandikar became the institute’s full-time Principal, making her the first ever lady principal of a technical institute in the state of Goa.
Today, as the principal of DBCE, Dr Panandikar has made significant contributions towards improving the quality of education provided as well as achieving excellence in the area of technical education. “I am much thankful to the dedication and commitment of the Management, faculty, supporting staff, and students of DBCE helping us in strengthening our journey of achieving excellence in technical education,” shares Dr Panandikar. She has also served as a member secretary of the Board of Governors of DBCE since 2016, member of the Executive Council of Goa University (2020-22), member of the Goa State Innovation Council (2017-Present), and member of the Education Committee of GCCI (2019-21), among many other positions.
Dr Panandikar’s accomplishments reflect her remarkable efforts and tenacity. Having successfully contributed to the technical domain of education, her aspirations do not cease. Her profound passion for the field of education motivates her to work relentlessly to ensure the constant development of the field as well as society as a whole.
Education knows no bounds, and each step teaches us something new about life. The emerging trajectory of education is no longer information but transformation of the learner and society. “My dream is to see that more and more girls choose STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) as a career. We need to have an open heart and mind to accept the fact that education has no boundaries and no set patterns. It can be acquired anytime, anywhere, and through any source. Life is the biggest teacher and in this infinite classroom of the universe, what we can do is to learn to unlearn only to relearn,” Dr Panandikar asserts, strongly.
As a working professional, she has had to deal with a slew of challenges that come with juggling work and personal obligations. Nonetheless, Dr Panandikar has always managed to overcome any obstacle that comes her way with a calm and clear mind. “Achieving a balanced life is an ongoing process that requires patience and self-compassion. Setting clear boundaries between work and personal life is vital. Prioritise self-care and make it a non-negotiable part of your routine by engaging in activities that rejuvenate you, and most importantly, spend quality time with your loved ones,” she advises.
“Embrace the journey and be kind to yourself when things do not go as planned. Celebrate your achievements, no matter how small, and continue striving for a life that brings you fulfilment. Love what you do and do what you love, Be Confident Be You,” adds Dr Panandikar, as she continues on her route to a wondrous amount of new accomplishments.