Dr Tessy Thomas, is currently the Director of Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL) at Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Hyderabad. She is one of India’s leading experts in ballistic missiles and was the Project Director for DRDO’s Agni IV and V missiles, right from their inception. She is also the first woman to lead missile teams in India. An expert on solid propellant systems, Dr Tessy’s contributions were crucial in developing the Agni-V’s multiple targetable re-entry vehicle. This was what helped the intercontinental ballistic missile withstand tremendous velocity and temperature of 3,000 degrees Celsius on re-entering the atmosphere.
After her PhD in Missile Guidance, Dr Tessy Thomas joined DRDO in 1988. Here she got an opportunity to work under Dr APJ Abdul Kalam.
Despite several failures that the Agni project faced and the media scrutiny, she and her team took it as a challenge and worked day and night to make the Agni project a success. Her work on Agni missiles earned her the moniker ‘India’s Missile Woman’. She has received several prestigious awards including the DRDO Scientist of the year in 2008, DRDO Performance Excellence Award for 2011 and 2012, and Lal Bahadur Shastri National Award for Excellence in Public Administration in 2012.
In November 2017, she addressed the Global Entrepreneurship Summit-2017 in Hyderabad which was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and daughter of the United States President Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump. She spoke on how she mentored and nurtured scientists while ensuring “Collective Learning” atmosphere and developing a knowledge-sharing platform in her institution.