8 months ago



2 FACE FACE to A QUARTERLY NEWS PUBLICATION FROM SRI VISHNU EDUCATIONAL SOCIETY Dr. Srinivasan Sundarrajan Director, Sri Vishnu Educational Society Interaction with A.L.Kishore, Associate Professor (BVRIT N), Mr. Arun Kumar (3 ECE), Ms Caroline (3 EEE) & K Anuraag Kaushik (3 ECE) at VEDIC Campus. Sri Vishnu Educational Society has the privilege to have Dr. Srinivasan Sundarrajan as its Director. It is really an honour to have someone of his stature to be at the helm of affairs at Sri Vishnu Educational Society whose leadership acumen will definitely take SVES to the next level. His most endearing quality is his humility and his genuine good nature. His illustrious contributions to the nation and humanity have made him a role model who has inspired vast multitudes of our present day generation. Dr. Srinivasan Sundarrajan was an outstanding missile scientist with Defence Research and Development Laboratory, Hyderabad between 1974 and 2011. Prior to joining NIT in 2011, Dr. Sundarrajan was with Missile Programme of Defence Research and Development Organization for over thirty years and received mentoring by Dr.A.P.J.Abdul Kalam. He was the Director of National Institute of Technology – Tiruchirappalli (NIT-T) from 2011 – 2016, a prestigious Institute that is rated consistently among top ten institutions in India. He was actively engaged in transforming this Institute to the future requirements through strategies and initiatives, adopting disruptive technology route. Dr.Sundarrajan completed Mechanical Engineering from Thiagarajar College of Engineering, Madurai, and did his post graduation and doctorate degrees at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, in Industrial Metallurgy. He also has a PG certificate from Indian Statistical Institute. As an INAE (Indian National Academy of Engineering) – AICTE Distinguished Professor, Dr.Sundarrajan made significant contribution in integrating curriculum development and emerging areas of technology. The recognitions he won include UNESCO Fellowship (1988), Best Metallurgist of the Year Award from the Govt. of India (1992), Vishwa Bharathi Award for Professional Excellence (1999), Performing Team Award (2004), and Best JV Management Award (2008). Madras Management Association awarded Professional Excellence Award (2013) in the category of Best Managed Education Institution. Do all successful people realise their dreams? What was your dream when you were young? For me, dreams keep on changing with time. As a high school student my dream was to become a Loco Engine Driver. After finishing engineering, I wanted to become a great technologist. Then, at a later stage, when I started handling major projects as a part of missile programs my dream was to become the head of a very major missile program. After having successful and satisfying stint at the best of defence organizations, I changed over to academic line. I joined NIT as Director and then my strong dream was to bring out transformation in Higher Education. I pursue my dream at SVES now. When I have relooked of the path I have travelled so far, the very first stage was all oriented to skill (Locomotive driver). The second stage was oriented to knowledge and research (Head of the technology). The third stage was aligned with Management (Head of Missile Programme). During the current stage, my orientation is towards society at large (Transformation of Higher Education). Do you think the curriculum we follow today is a bit out-of-date considering the amount of advancement witnessed in Science and Technology? As on now, academic curriculum is related to books .It takes considerable period of time to compile and publish a book. Technology is changing very fast and it is very difficult to keep up pace with the technology. So, there will always be a gap between curriculum and technology. In this age of internet, knowledge is disseminated expeditiously and books are slowly becoming obsolete to us. However books on Mathematics, Physics and other basic concepts will always remain significant but books on technology will always lag the actual advancements and breakthroughs. Keeping this in mind, one should not give much prominence to the old technologies in textbooks and be open to replace those by the relevant technology. Only then we will be able to fill the gap between our curriculum and present day scenario. How crucial is it to network R&D institutes and laboratories to educational institutions? The national R&D laboratories have state of art facilities. Government has invested

ISSUE 13 OCTOBER 2016 heavy funds in R&D infrastructure like CSIR, ISRO, DAE and DRDO. These institutions have highly specialized scientists, with focus on emerging technologies. We have to accept the fact that it is highly difficult for us to have R&D facilities like them. The best strategy we may follow is to make use of these R&D organizations by linking with them. It is not easy to have collaborations with these reputed organizations, but once we enter into such partnerships, it will be a huge opportunity for us. At SVES, our goal would be to have a program plan, which is a win-win strategy for all players. You got mentored by Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam at DRDO. What was the most unique quality of him that you admired and tried to emulate? Dr Kalam was an excellent person with superb qualities. For him there was no hierarchy. He was a simple and highly focused person and always very open to criticism. The one aspect which really inspired me was his focus towards youth development. India with highest population of youth by 2020 can definitely aim at becoming knowledge superpower if we keep our focus on youth education, skill and entrepreneurship. Dr Kalam was instrumental for my entry into academics. After my career in Missile program I was moving out as global head of a multinational R&D facility. At that time there was an offer from MHRD to join as the Director of NIT. I consulted Dr Kalam regarding this. He gave specific direction for me to use the opportunity to head NIT and execute strategies for transformation as a service to give back to the society. What would be your message to the students who aspire to become Missile Scientists? Anyone who aspires to be a Missile Scientist should first aspire to become a technology leader. Missile systems having complex subsystems and components offer exposure to multidisciplinary technologies. These technologies have great business potential. Missile Scientists are technology developers, integrators and entrepreneurs. Students have to develop knowledge, skill and business acumen to succeed as Missile Scientists Please brief about the project that you consider the most challenging in your career as Missile Scientist at DRDL. For anybody, the biggest challenge comes during the first ten years of one's career. As a student of IIT Madras, there were many opportunities available for me and I was able to secure as many as fourteen jobs. I landed in DRDL at Hyderabad with a plan of seeing places at Hyderabad and move over to TELCO Pune. The assignment at DRDL was so attractive that I spent my entire career there. When I joined DRDO in mid 70's, only six countries had missiles technology and I was placed in a top secret project. I got initial exposure at HAL, Koraput, Odisha where they were working on Russian technology. Later I returned to DRDL and worked on developing hundreds of components based on the technology experience. This was the most challenging period of my career. Will we see SVES working in collaboration with premier R&D institutes in near future? SVES is a versatile organization with multiple institutions in various disciplines. India has many premier government agencies (ISRO, CSIR, DRDO, DAE) that focus on R&D. They all have heavily funded applied research programs. These institutions have excellent scientists and state of the art research facilities. We will get aligned to their requirements and involve our faculty and students. Our focus will be on networking these major organizations with SVES. In the beginning, it would be challenging, but once started, we will move forward. What was your immediate response when you got the proposal for being the director of SVES? My work at NIT was the first phase of my journey in academics. My focus was to transform the 50 year old government funded institution to the current requirements of higher education with special attention to students needs. Because of the limited number of seats in NITs and IITs, only a few lucky students get a chance to study in these institutions. I realized that majority of our students are in private institutions. These students require much more attention. Institutions like SVES are capable of taking and executing very quick decisions. This is not possible in Government institutions. Also there is a gap between aspirations of these students and capabilities of the faculty. A person with very high academic qualifications need not necessarily be a good communicator or a good teacher. So there is a need for improving the communication and psychological connection between students and faculty. I decided to focus on students in private institutions and get involved in faculty development activities during the second phase of my academic career. Our Chairman Mr Vishnu Raju is a Distinguished Alumnus of NIT, Trichy. He received the award from Honourable President of India for his outstanding contribution to the society. During discussions with him, I could sense his passion combined with sincere efforts to shape up our students to ethical and excellent professional. Dr V S Raju, a leading academician and past Director of IIT Delhi, spoke very high about Mr Vishnu Raju during his visits to NIT, Trichy. Mr Vishnu Raju impressed me with his simplicity and sincere goals. With this background, I was happy when he offered the post of Director SVES during our discussions. Our Vice Chairman, Mr Ravichandran is also an “ The personal satisfaction came, when I changed my field to academics and started focusing on students. I am on Facebook with my students (Higher Education, India). I am connected to about 14,000 students. I know their aspirations, difficulties, dreams and challenges. I find immense satisfaction in interacting with students and this keeps me going forward in my mission. “ alumnus of NIT, Trichy. The zeal and enthusiasm with which both of them are putting efforts to bring the best practice available in any part of the world to SVES during the past decade confirmed the professionalism in management and commitment to society. Setting up of VEDIC is an excellent initiative being executed for the first time in the country. My mission matched with SVES goals. I took the decision and joined SVES. Sir, we have read that you have "networked over 400 industries and 40 academic institutions for R&D leading ". How do you comprehend or associate so many things? When we consider major programs, each program costs about 3000 to 4000 crore rupees and almost 70,000 personnel are involved in such programs. Development and production are taken care of by industry and research part is done in academic institutions and research laboratories. There are 20 to 30 major industries like HAL, ECIL, etc. and 400 small scale industries. We follow a structure called project management and program management, which gives us necessary expertise on managing large scale programs, in terms of networking, monitoring and maintaining these programs. The flow of information is very fast. Networked management structure is the key factor. Programme Management with structured information flow and timely decisions helped me to handle the otherwise complex looking tasks. What developments do you want to bring about in the SVES society for the next five years? SVES is an excellent group with multiple streams of education like Engineering, Pharmacy, Dental, Science Courses, etc. Because of this, we have the advantage of faculty having different skill sets and expertise. Academic Integration could help in forming multidisciplinary teams that work on the emerging areas of technology. This makes us relevant in 2020. Collaboration with the Industry and foreign universities is the key. Also, Classroom Lecture delivery has changed over a period of time. We will use more of virtual classrooms and the concept of flipped classroom, where in the student go through the lecture at home or hostel and work out the assignments and carry on activities in the class. Flipped classrooms allow teachers to have more time to clarify the doubts of the students. At VEDIC we are designing few studios that will help the expert faculty to prepare the video lectures that could be used by the students anytime, anywhere. Students can watch these lectures even during their travel between the college and their home. It will be more learning than teaching in future, both for the student and teacher. We will focus more on applied research, Innovation and entrepreneurship activities by establishing an effective Industry – Institute collaboration. We will also build up an useful alumni interaction cell. VEDIC is a very good initiative to bring all of us viz faculty, students and nonteaching staff together to achieve our goals. I am sure with all these initiatives, SVES can become a force to reckon with in the field of higher education in future. Sir, you have achieved many milestones throughout your marvelous career .Name any one achievement that stands out - the one which gave you immense satisfaction. I found professional satisfaction in my three decade long career at DRDL. The personal satisfaction came, when I changed my field to academics and started focusing on students. I am on Facebook with my students (Higher Education, India). I am connected to about 14,000 students. I know their aspirations, difficulties, dreams and challenges. I find immense satisfaction in interacting with students and this keeps me going forward in my mission. What do you think of the popular opinion that hard work isn't enough to rise up the ranks? Hard work definitely plays a major role in one's success. But there are other things which need to be practiced. Prior to hard work one needs to plan properly. Once planned, one should focus on it and carry out midcourse corrections wherever necessary. A good team-player achieves a lot. A lot more can be achieved working together than working alone. It is similar to music where many instruments are played together to create a good tune and each instrument has pivotal role in making the song soulful. What is your success mantra for life, any favorite quotes and from whom did you draw inspiration from during your formative years? Swami Vivekananda's famous quote “Arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached” continues to inspire me and is my mantra for life. I don't have any personal quotes. I was inspired by several people at different stages of my life. When I was young, my parents inspired me the most. My father was mentored by Dr Annie Besant for the education of Indians. He was an excellent orator and an authority in English. My mother was the first lady in the family to study in Queen Mary's college in 1930s.Both these noble persons sacrificed their life for education and were my primary source of inspiration. During my college days, I drew my inspiration from Prof. Md Roshan, who was instrumental in bringing my focus towards research and technology. Subsequent to him was Air Marshal Narayanan and finally Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam. I was highly inspired by Dr. Kalam. 3

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