Rising Technical Contributor Award
For technical innovations in next-generation aerospace communications solutions; and for demonstrating a creative, entrepreneurial spirit that streamlines processes and solves complex problems.
Yeshani Wijesekara is a senior systems engineer for the Collins Aerospace Airborne Collision Avoidance System (ACAS-X) program. A recognized rising innovator within the organization, Wijesekara joined Collins Aerospace in 2018 as an entry-level electrical engineer and studied the challenges of the aviation industry while resolving technical issues related to electromagnetics, communications, signal integrity, and airworthiness certification.
About a year later, she was promoted to a leadership position in which she managed a team of engineers and a multimillion-dollar budget to design and maintain one of the company’s most important product lines. Functioning as the key customer contact, she worked with multiple stakeholders and regulatory authorities to bring resolution to technical issues. After successfully leading her team through several technical and programmatic challenges, Wijesekara served as the project leader for a new, state-of-the-art development effort that aims to develop a next-generation communications solution to resolve long-standing data congestion issues in airways around the world.
With an entrepreneurial spirit, she has submitted numerous multimillion-dollar project ideas, process improvements, and cost-reduction opportunities. Many of her concepts have since evolved into tangible projects with official deliverables and intellectual property submissions. She has presented her ideas to directors, vice presidents, technical fellows, and the current president of Collins Aerospace. In May 2019, Wijesekara received the Leigh Ellery Young Innovator Award for her technical concept to enable new aircraft autonomy techniques. In late 2019, she won the company’s Cost Savings Identified competition for an idea on business improvement. In September 2020,Wijesekara received Collins’ Mining for Efficiencies Award for a proposal to save more than $10 million annually via a streamlined project management system.
Throughout her college career at Purdue University, Wijesekara achieved dean’s list and semester honors and was a recipient of the Charles W. Brown Scholarship for Electrical and Computer Engineering. She was inducted into the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ Eta Kappa Nu honor society for ranking in the top fifth of her class.
Growing up in Sri Lanka, Wijesekara witnessed how gender stereotypes reduced opportunities for women to study engineering. These personal experiences inspired her drive for supporting female engineers through her many SWE-aligned activities. She is an active member of SWE Space Coast Section and currently serves as president. Prior to that, she held the director of professional development role in which she created the section’s first virtual series with speakers from across the U.S., a smashing success that drew the section’s highest participation rates in recent years. Outside of SWE, Wijesekara has organized Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day activities with Collins Aerospace for the past two years.
She received both her B.S. and M.S. in electrical and computer engineering from Purdue. She currently lives in Melbourne, Florida, with her husband, Brian, with whom she shares her latest kitchen experiments.