Women in Engineering: How Chinloo Lama Blends Creativity with Engineering

Have you ever met someone whose passion and creativity leave you in awe? Chinloo Lama is the kind of person who sees the world not just as it is, but as it could be—brighter, more innovative, and filled with endless possibilities. Chinloo and her husband, Sal Lama, are long-term employees at Dassault Systèmes, where Chinloo plays a vital role in UX for SOLIDWORKS. Her work combines her mechanical product design skills and her software user experience expertise. As both the engineer for whom the SOLIDWORKS product is designed and a UX designer, she blends technical expertise with creative flair to shape the user experience of SOLIDWORKS software in an aesthetically and user-friendly way.

Our Next Make: Bringing Ideas to Life

In addition to their roles at Dassault Systèmes, Chinloo, and Sal run a YouTube channel, Our Next Make, where they dive into a variety of maker projects, from practical solutions to fun, imaginative creations. This year, they have expanded their initiative by teaming up with other makers who have great ideas but need some support to bring them to life. You can read about Tanish’s rocket launch and Karen and Sally’s telescoping stage hook projects on the SOLIDWORKS blog. Chinloo and Sal are also collaborating with partners like the Fab Foundation.

Image: Our Next Make


The Early Signs of an Engineer

When Chinloo was a child, she was endlessly curious. Her aunt once got her a makeup kit, but instead of using the makeup, Chinloo took apart the lipstick to see how it moved up and down. This curiosity led her to fix broken watches and tinker with gadgets because she found them intriguing. At that time, she never thought about being an engineer because she had no idea what an engineer was.

Young Chinloo tinkering, far left. Image: Chinloo Lama


In high school, Chinloo’s art teacher saw her talent and encouraged her to apply to art school. Excited, she shared the news with her family. Her aunt convinced her to meet with other teachers and guidance counselors to continue to explore career options. This push led Chinloo to discover mechanical engineering, a field that merged her love for creating things with her curiosity about how they work.

Discovering Engineering at RPI

At RPI, she discovered her passion for computer-aided design (CAD). Despite being one of the few women in her mechanical engineering classes, she thrived. She found it challenging, especially since many students were competitive and the teachers’ used examples like carburetors and car engines, which she couldn’t relate to. But her love for making things kept her motivated.

The Power of Mentorship

Chinloo began her career in product design after school because she was passionate about making things. Her first job was at Polaroid, where she had a supportive mentor, a female engineering leader who wanted to help other female engineers succeed. This mentorship was crucial, especially during a challenging project with Olympus in Japan. At that time, management in the traditional Japanese engineering high-tech world didn’t want a young female engineer telling them what to do. Her manager flew to Japan and got into the room with the executives, convincing them that Chinloo had valuable ideas for the project. They went on to have a successful project and obtained patents from it. Her manager and counterpart at Olympus, who believed in her, gave her a boost to believe in herself and her engineering knowledge. The confidence that she gained continued to help her build her career.

A Culture of Innovation

Chinloo is particularly proud of her contributions to SOLIDWORKS Apps for Kids.

After becoming parents, Chinloo and her husband Sal developed the idea of a kid-friendly design tool that could be used in a web browser. Several other SOLIDWORKS employees, including Justin Burton and Harish Manohar were also considering something similar, so they collaborated and created a pitch deck to share with executive leaders.

Chinloo led the UX design, and Sal was responsible for much of the functionality. After Chinloo announced SOLIDWORKS Apps for Kids at SOLIDWORKS World (now 3DEXPERIENCE World), many SOLIDWORKS users shared stories about wanting to engage their children with the software they use every day. As Chinloo shared, “The emotional reward was so immense and overwhelming that I don’t think I will ever forget.”

Chinloo was also part of the Bamboo Initiative, an internal innovation initiative that met weekly to generate innovative ideas for software or new ways of innovating. She keeps the spirit of that initiative alive by encouraging the people who report to her to dedicate some of their work time to innovation projects that they’re excited about.

Problem-Solving: From Escape Rooms to Traditional Arts

Chinloo enjoys participating in escape rooms with Sal and their sons Sam and Max. She finds escape rooms to be an interesting way to test social and problem-solving skills.

Chinloo also enjoys creating puzzles and scavenger hunts for her kids. In addition to escape rooms, she likes to explore how modern technology can be applied to improve traditional practices, such as farming and batik art. She believes in taking a fresh perspective when faced with a problem and combining past knowledge with current understanding to create better solutions. Currently, she is working on a garden design project inspired by Da Vinci’s ideal city design and civil engineering practices.

A Vision for the Future: Empowering the Next Generation

Chinloo is passionate about making engineering understandable for young people, particularly girls. She collaborates with the HR team at SOLIDWORKS to encourage young women to explore engineering and design. She also participates in various presentations and engagement activities to ensure that kids have a better understanding of engineering than she did at their age.

“Engineering at its core is about solving a problem. What I learned in school, and what I still learn today, is to understand the true problem and not just design for someone else’s suggested solution,” Chinloo explains. She believes in teaching the importance of asking the right questions, such as “Why do you need a bridge?” rather than just “How big should the bridge be?” This approach ensures that engineers truly understand the problem and can provide the best solutions.

Chinloo’s dedication to education and mentorship is shaping a future where engineering is accessible and exciting for everyone. With each project and each mentee she inspires, she continues to break new ground, proving that engineering is not just about building things but creating a better world.


Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp. offers complete 3D software tools that let you create, simulate, publish, and manage your data. SolidWorks products are easy to learn and use, and work together to help you design products better, faster, and more cost-effectively. The SolidWorks focus on ease-of-use allows more engineers, designers and other technology professionals than ever before to take advantage of 3D in bringing their designs to life.