Category Archives: Education

Designing, creating and innovating in India

Prime Minister’s ‘Start-up India, Stand up India’ initiative can succeed only when the focus in our colleges shifts towards creating and owning intellectual property. Creativity is a talent nurtured right from childhood. Various types of arts, crafts and hobbies expose a child to a variety of skills that develop creativity. Design, per se, need not always involve either creativity or innovation. It is only when creativity is embedded into the art of design that innovation happens. Innovation can also result from a strong desire to find new or improved solutions to existing problems. However, this talent is reinforced by a creative aptitude. A combination of all these characteristics is what actually results in innovative designs, products and services—some of which can be revolutionary.

It is, therefore, obvious that innovative engineers cannot be created overnight. The process has to be part of an integrated system which includes parents, teachers, schools, colleges and industries—all of which encourage inquisitive curiosity with practical exposure, leading to development of interest, aptitude, skills and aspirations to excel as a practicing engineer.

The reason that barely 7% of the approximately 1.5 million engineers graduating every year in India are employable in core engineering sectors is the absolute lack of aspiration. They get into an engineering college—or a medical college, for that matter—only because of peer and parental pressure, and not out of desire or deep interest. If their ultimate evaluation is also based on rote-based learning and marks obtained, we are neither inculcating in them the “ability to learn” nor practical capabilities that are relevant to a prospective employer. “Learning to learn” and “learning to apply” should, therefore, be the cornerstones of education, be it engineering, medicine, accountancy or management.

Design, innovate & make in India: The Prime Minister is charming young students by ‘Make in India’ and ‘Start-up India, Stand up India’ initiatives. However, we need to not just make in India, but create in India, design in India and innovate in India, so as to create and own intellectual property. What we need is a solid design and manufacturing base to enable these initiatives to succeed. However, without competent engineers to drive these programmes, how can the campaigns even take off—whether in aerospace, defence or consumer sectors? For this, we need to skill our engineers not just as computer operators, but also as intelligent designers and engineers in practice.

The core of all these will be effectively addressing our flawed education system—right from primary school to the highest education. If we need to create, innovate and design, we need performing engineers, doctors and scientists who are capable of designing products, or can at least reverse engineer like the Chinese, and then innovate further.

Design & innovation: Design skills lie at the top of the pyramid, which include a variety of multidisciplinary abilities. Creative design requires the essential powers of creative, analytical and critical thinking.

Skilling cannot happen only in a college environment. Universities and engineering colleges need to tie up with industries to provide the engineers hands-on exposure to “live” projects within the industry.

So, what should be the action plan for educators? Or, in other words, how can engineering students create and innovate in the next year or two?

Foundation: Educators need to start the process with first-year students. The laying of strong fundamentals forms the foundation, on which the superstructure of “engineering practice” can be built. Fundamental concepts can be better grasped by students when they are explained with the help of simple, practical, everyday examples of theory.

Innovation: It is then possible to climb the ladder of innovation step-by-step, by teaching students how to think and create, starting with simple hands-on projects that are made by students as early as the very first semester.

Action plan for students: For students, the motto should be “empower yourself to learn”. It is not easy to overhaul the engineering education system. Yet we occasionally read about a handful of students who have created a gadget for the farmer, or a solar-powered vehicle, etc. How did these students achieve the same, in spite of being part of the same system? They educated themselves outside the “syllabus” and college routine. Engineering students need to read the latest journals, magazines and information online in the core sector of their choice—be it electronics, mechanical, chemical or any other. Project work today is considered a dreary chore, to be completed by hook or crook to qualify for a degree. So as to become a creative engineer, students need to break out of this mindset. They need to develop the interest to try and make simple projects themselves, learn from mistakes through analysis, and finally succeed in creating a simple project. This exercise itself is bound to provide a lot of pleasure and excitement, besides providing invaluable educational insights about the subject. Ultimately, these very habits—of keeping oneself abreast of developments, of working with one’s hands and trying out an idea in practice—are the ones that will stand them in good stead throughout their career. Indian students can certainly innovate and create in the next two years, by using their imagination and practical experimentation to create products and solutions for everyday life.

The original article appeared on Financial Express.

Aerospace manufacturers in Bangalore

Focus on nurturing designing skills

Make in India today is not addressing ‘Design in India’. Except for a few highly sophisticated technologies, we should by now have been able to design most products in India. Why has this not happened in spite of India boasting of the largest pool of young qualified engineers?

Let us look at the thrust sectors over the last two years — Electronics System Design & Manufacture (ESDM), aerospace and defense indigenisation. These areas involve state-of-the-art design and manufacturing capability which should result in truly Indian products and services. However, in spite of a six decade legacy of ‘licenced manufacturing’ of age-old products, we still haven’t demonstrated our capabilities of creating home-grown Indian products.

Over the past two decades, manufacturing in India has been dying a slow death due to various reasons. The most important of which has been the extraordinary growth of the information technology sector and the huge opportunities it provided for employment of graduates. This in turn attracted and encouraged the workforce, especially engineers, to focus on honing their skills in this field, while neglecting to improve their capabilities in the core engineering domains.

Contrast this picture with China where an environment was created that enabled the country to leapfrog over many advanced nations to become a manufacturing superpower. China welcomed global multinationals to set up their industries there — whether they were for fabrication of ICs or manufacturing aircraft. But they did not stop there. Through a close coordination between universities and the industry, China managed to reverse engineer these technologies to create their own design teams — from sophisticated aircraft and semiconductor fabs right down to stuffed speaking toys.

India needs skilled engineers

If the ‘Make in India’ goal has to make an impact on the Indian economy, we need to first skill our engineers in the art of products design and further to manufacture them in innovatively designed factories manned with skilled engineering manpower. This represents the core issue to our problems. We don’t have the skilled engineers to design products and drive the cogs of the manufacturing wheel, especially in the high-end technology fields.

This problem is magnified in the Aerospace and Defence sectors, where we need to build capabilities not only in design but also in robust processes, documentation and project management. Studies show that out of the 1.5 million engineering graduates emerging from universities across India every year, only 4 -7 per cent are employable in the core engineering industries (Aspiring Minds, Report 2014).

An earlier study by the World Bank (2010) shows that employers are not satisfied with the fresh graduates they recruit, providing  evidence that ‘the Engineering education institutions and the system does an inadequate job of developing analytical, evaluating and creative engineers.’

There is a lot of buzz about skilling, but again, the emphasis is only on skilling lower-level technicians. While this is important, it is imperative that we train and skill our engineers in the high value-addition areas of product and engineering design. Engineers aspiring for jobs in high technology companies in the core engineering sector, such as Aerospace, Defence or ESDM, find that they are completely out of their depth, and need to be trained for several months on the job, before they can be productive.

Skilling of engineers cannot happen overnight. This has to be part of an integrated scheme that develops interest, aptitude and aspiration to excel as a practising engineer. Design skills lie at the top of the pyramid that includes a variety of multi-disciplinary skills besides the need for being very systematic and analytical. A designer also needs to continuously keep abreast of technology and use it to innovate continuously.

A good design takes into consideration the entire product life-cycle that includes ease of use (User interface), ease of manufacture, maintenance and repair, among others. Design capability results from a closed loop process comprising Design, Analysis, Manufacture and Testing, as well as Maintenance and Support.

Such skilling cannot be done in a college environment. Universities and engineering colleges need to tie up with industries to provide the engineers hands-on exposure to live projects within the industry. This is where the limitations of the present university education system prevent a holistic exposure to practice. And this is where industry has its role to play, by giving a practical exposure to the aspiring engineers.

The need of the hour is therefore to bring all stakeholders together to the table to chalk out a holistic plan. This includes colleges, universities, industry representatives as well as the government representatives. Each one has an important role to play. To ensure the success of the ‘Make in India’ initiative, we need to think holistically. We need to ‘Create in India’, ‘Innovate in India’, ‘Design in India’ and ‘Manufacture in India’.

The original article appeared on DeccanHerald.

aerospace skilling

This is the level of our engineering graduates

How imperative is it to skill our engineers? When does skilling really start? At the post-graduate level? Graduate? School?

Let me narrate a recent incident to you, and then you can draw your own conclusions.

This is how an engineering graduate with a further six months training in embedded systems, attempted to solve a simple exercise that I had given her:

The task was to calculate digital samples for generating a sinewave. I casually suggested that she could use Excel, if she wanted. She looked quite puzzled and asked ‘How can Excel calculate the samples’? I said, ‘Can’t you give a formula’? She asked, ‘What formula?’ I said, ‘If you specify ‘x’, the computer can calculate ‘sin x’. Anyway, I said she could do it manually with a calculator also if she so wished.

She came back to me with a table written on her notebook with columns of ‘x in 1 degree increments’, ‘x in radians’, ‘sin x in decimal’, ‘Hex value in 8 bits’. She had stopped at 15 degrees since it was taking her too much time to manually calculate the entire 360 degrees. I also noticed that she had not taken the negative values of sin x. So, I asked her to calculate just one sample in the 2nd and 3rd quadrant.
She shot back, ‘Quadrant’?
I said ‘yes. Do you know what is a quadrant’?
She shook her head and sheepishly said, ‘I’ve forgotten. You mean 270 degrees?’
I asked ‘What is the first quadrant’?
‘Zero’
Without revealing any anger in my voice, I asked, ‘What is the range of the first quadrant’?
‘Zero. No, 90’
‘What is the second quadrant’?
‘180’
‘What is the third quadrant’?
‘270’
At that point I lost my patience and told her, ‘First quadrant is from 0 to 90. Can you now identify the 3rd quadrant’?
‘Yes sir. It is 180 to 270’.
Quite relieved at this huge success, I said, ‘Can you now just calculate 16 samples of a full wave and show me the result’?
She came back after 15 minutes and showed me a set of calculations that were all wrong. She had no idea what she had to do.
I thought I would go to the absolute basics and asked her ‘What is sin 30’?
She quickly whipped out her scientific calculator. I said, ‘You don’t need a calculator for that. Can you not draw a triangle and calculate’?
She stared at me as if I was out of my mind. Then she drew a vague triangle in which not even one angle was a right angle.
So, I drew one and denoted x as the ‘opposite’ and y as the hypotenuse. I said ‘Can you now calculate sin 30’?
‘But both x and y are unknown’.
I helped her by saying that ‘y’, the hypotenuse was 1. ‘Can you now calculate x’?
She quickly and triumphantly wrote ‘x= y*sin 30’!
‘I think you can calculate the value of x in relation to y, can’t you’?
An empty stare.
‘If one angle is 30 in a right-angled triangle, what would be the other?’ I asked.
’30 degrees’!
‘What is the sum of all three angles in a triangle’?
‘180. So, the other angle should be 60’.
So, I drew a mirrored triangle beneath the existing one to create the resultant equilateral triangle and asked ‘Does this shape give you any hints?’
An empty stare. So, I asked ‘Do you see any symmetry in the super triangle’?
‘Yes! If one is x, the other is (1-x)’!
I slapped my forehead and said ‘If there’s an isosceles triangle, can you guess x’?
‘It is x/2’.
With many more minutes of prodding and slapping my forehead, she arrived at ‘sin 30 = 0.5’
‘Now that you’ve managed to calculate sin 30, can you now calculate sin 45′?
She drew another triangle just like the 30 degree triangle, wrote x=0.5 and y=1 and marked the angle as ’45’.
I remarked ‘How did you mark x as 0.5′?
‘Sir, we just worked it out’!
I let it be and asked, ‘If one angle is 45 in a right angled triangle, what is the other angle’?
I was quite relieved that she did not go for her calculator. She actually blurted out ’45’ in just under 35 secs.
‘Great! If two angles are 45, can you figure out any relationship between any two sides’?
‘The base (adjacent) will be root 2’.
I said ‘If the two angles are 45, which two sides would be equal’?
Losing patience, I identified the base and the opposite sides as ‘1’. ‘Can you now calculate the hypotenuse’?
A blank stare forced me to draw dotted squares on the three sides and I asked ‘Does this picture now tell you anything’?
She shook her head. I asked ‘Have you heard of Pythagoras theorem’?
‘I have forgotten, Sir’.
Assuming that x, y & z may be more confusing than the a,b & c that we used to be taught in school, I wrote the latter.
No use.
So, I just wrote the formula c2 = a2 + b2.
Voila! ‘Root 2’ came the answer at last!!!!

‘Now that you have managed to calculate sin 30 and sin 45, can you now do sin 60’?
‘Sure’ was the very confident and proud reply.
She proceeded to draw yet another triangle that looked exactly like the first one and promptly wrote 60 in place of the 30.
She wrote ‘1’ on the hypotenuse and ‘1.5’ on the side opposite 60.
I was horrified.
‘How did you get 1.5 on that side’?
‘For a 15 degree increase from 30 to 45, that side increased from 0.5 to 1. So, for another 15 degree increase, it will increase by another 0.5’!
I thought to myself, “Absolutely brilliant logic”, but preferred to tell her calmly, ‘That’s not correct logic. If that was so, what would happen if the angle increased to 90’?

She proceeded to write two superimposed vertical lines for some distance and said, ‘It will be 2’.
‘How did you get 2? Why not 2.5’?
‘No, it can’t be 2.5’
‘But, you know what sin 90 is in reality, don’t you’?
‘Yes. 1’.
‘So, isn’t your logic wrong’?
‘Yes, Sir’.
‘So, now go back to your first triangle that you drew for sin 30. There’s something that you can see right there for 60’, I said.
She didn’t get it. So, I pointed out the 60 degree angle at the top of the triangle and asked ‘Can you write the sin 60 with reference to this angle’?
‘But that angle is in reverse. It goes beyond 180′.
I could not believe that I was listening to all this coming from an engineering graduate. Maintaining my composure, I took a deep breath.
I quickly drew another triangle as a mirror image of the 30 degree example and asked ‘Does this make any difference to the sin 30 just because the triangle is reversed’?
I was relieved when she said ‘No’.
‘So, can you now calculate sin 60 in the same triangle as the sin 30’?
‘Yes. It is 0.75’.
With anger and pain very visible on my face, I asked ‘How did you get that? Did you apply Pythagoras theorem’?
‘Oh yes. I forgot to do the squaring and rooting, Sir’!

If an engineering graduate has not understood the basics of what she studied in school, how did she not only progress through college but also get marks of over 60 and 70%? So, what’s the use of the examination system, not to talk of the class room lectures? If she does not even know the basic school-level geometry of a right angled triangle, let alone remember the name ‘Pythagoras theorem’, what science is she going to apply in life? What’s even more shocking to me is that many people tell me that 75% of the graduates are of this standard.

The question remains – If our engineering graduates do not learn how to apply basic  mathematical, engineering and science concepts to solve a problem, what do we mean by “Make in India”?

An Inclusive Approach to Defence Indigenisaton

The problem of either DRDO or a DPSU not delivering results as desired by the Armed Services is analogous to the lack of industry-academia interactions. Just as the engineering educational institutions are detached from practical engineering concepts as relevant to an industry, the DRDO/DPSU is also detached from the User agency. Both sides possess complementary parts of the total domain expertise, which means that they need to work as partners and not ‘buyer-seller’. Each side has to learn from the other through a continuous process of interactions and exchange of ideas. While this must surely have been the purpose behind posting serving officers to DPSUs, personality egos on both sides have prevented a healthy working partnership. As examples, I have known of scientists/engineers working on aircraft projects in CSIR/DRDO without even having seen an aircraft at close quarters. I am quite sure this is true even with many Naval projects. This hypothesis is also proven by the comments of some naval experts who have pointed to the successes of the Navy when Naval officers with the ‘best brains ‘ were sent on deputation to DRDO. I would say that the ‘best brains’ understood the system level performance requirements better than the scientists and ensured that these were met through a continuous interaction with the scientists who were able to apply their ‘best brains’ at the sub-system level.

The private sector is being promoted as a likely saviour for all the current problems. While it is certainly true that this sector is more accountable and keen to prove its mettle, the lack of domain expertise even to the level of the DRDO/HAL is by itself likely to be a severe limitation. The private sector will therefore have to be supported and nurtured through an active assistance from the Navy/Air Force in upgrading their knowledge in specialised domains of defence equipment, be it armaments or navigation or communication or radars, none of which is encountered in commercial and industrial applications. This will once again have to be a hierarchical approach with a large private player creating a cluster of MSMEs as a supply chain with design and manufacturing skills.

The Armed Services need to appreciate that many of the technical officers among them are not conversant with the technologies adopted within the systems and sub-systems of the platform, beyond the scanty maintenance documentation provided by the foreign OEMs. This is where the availability of strong technical and analytical skills available with the ‘best brains’ in the DPSU/HAL/Private sector can be taken advantage of. The existence of highly innovative and competent MSMEs in their own spheres of specialisation is acknowledged widely, but these rarely get to be tapped due to a disconnect between industry and the Armed Services. This is where the Armed Services need to draw on the strengths of industry. It might be interesting to set up defence laboratories by, for example, the Navy, where a private sector player could work for a limited period (like a sabbatical) to familiarise themselves with the on-board systems and even acquire technology through study or reverse-engineering of existing systems.

To conclude, a spirit of partnership needs to be nurtured among all the stakeholders in this whole game so that we achieve synergy leading to a win-win situation rather than a blame game.

Aerospace skilling in bangalore

Focus on design, else we may create screwdriver technicians in name of skilling

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will today launch the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana to mark the World Youth Skills Day. The government has set a target of skilling 40.2 crore people by 2022, under the new National Policy for Skill Development, which will also be formally launched today.According to Union Skills Development & Entrepreneurship Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy of the targeted population, 54 percent is in the agriculture sector.

The vision of the skill development policy is to create an ecosystem of empowerment by skilling on a large scale at speed with high standards and to promote a culture of innovation-based entrepreneurship which can generate wealth and employment so as to ensure sustainable livelihoods for all citizens.

It has four thrust areas,and addresses key obstacles to skilling, including low aspirational value, lack of integration with formal education, lack of focus on outcomes, low quality of training infrastructure and trainers.

What really matters is how the government put this into action.

This should be a concern for all players in this area – the government, the industry, the vocational training institutions, training providers, assessment agencies, certification providers and student financiers.

What should the policy do to make the policy a success? Firstpost spoke to specialists and analysts, who while welcoming the new initiative of the government, suggested a few measures that the policy could look at and help plug loopholes at the ground level: The government is talking about manufacturing in India. Time it focused on design in India, says G Raj Narayan, Chief Mentor of DRONA and Founder & MD of Radel Group, that delivers indigenous solutions in Aerospace, Defence and Electronics.

“Design has a large and longer impact on what we are manufacturing. When you do that, you are adding in a huge way to manufacturing and using Indian talent. Manufacturing under licence get us nowhere. Then it would mean skilling 1,000 employees in screwdriver technology,” he said.

Skilling has to be at a higher level than merely creating technicians. Lack of artistic skill in design and manufacturing is a big gap in India. One of the way to get the youth to be interested in skilling is to introduce hobby courses in school at the high school or mid-level.

“Right now, marks are important for students and parents to get to engineering and medical seats. If skilling hobbies are introduced at the school level, school and college dropouts will be empowered to get a job. Academicians are needed to look at integrating this policy at the school level. All stakeholders should be involved by the government to make the policy a success,” Narayan said.

The original article appeared on FirstPost

grajnarayanblog

Creating Innovative Engineers for Make in India

When we talk about skilling, most of the time we seem to be focusing on skilling of technicians, machine operators and in general, about vocational training at a lower level. My talk is about skilling of engineers. Today is the time when everybody is talking about Make in India as well as defence indigenisation. I would say defence indigenisation is a sub-set of Make in India, and therefore, I will focus primarily on Make in India and the opportunities that it opens up for all of us.

When people say ‘Make in India’ many people misunderstand this to be just ‘Manufacturing in India’, whereas I believe that it should include ‘Design in India, Innovate in India, Manufacture in India and Consume in India’. Let’s look at all the appliances that we use on a day-to-day basis in our daily lives. We use microwave ovens, we use LCD TVs, we use refrigerators, and various other home appliances. And what are the brands you see in the shops today? They are Korean brands, Taiwanese brands, Japanese and Chinese. So when we talk about manufacturing, it is not manufacturing of these TVs that we should be discussing. We should be talking about Indian brands that are designed in India, and manufactured in India, using Indian manpower. So why do we need to import these appliances? Many people think that we are manufacturing these under licence in India – but I would say “why do we need to manufacture under licence at all?” Why can’t we design and manufacture ourselves, of Indian designs?

At the other extreme of the spectrum we have defence equipment – aerospace equipment that are used on our fighter aircraft, transport aircraft and even ground test equipment which are all completely imported from abroad. Even in the so-called indigenously designed LCA and the ALH which are certainly prestigious projects, we seem to have a high content of imported equipment.

If you want to design and manufacture in India, you need a factory, which we certainly have in plenty; you need modern machineries, which again we have in plenty, technicians – we have plenty of them – operators, as we have seen the automobile sector – they have created the eco-system, and we are even exporting automobiles from India. But then…..the missing link happens to be the design engineers. Whether it is the automotive sector or the aerospace sector or the defence sector – the missing link is the design capability.

Let’s look at the quality of engineers that are coming out of the colleges right now. You have engineers, 1.5 million of them, coming out of colleges every year. And the industries say that hardly 4 – 7% of these engineers are capable of being employed in the manufacturing sector. They say that there are no analytical skills among these engineers. The industrialists say they possess no practical skills. Why? I would say it’s because the engineering colleges do not have the infrastructure and the environment to imbibe these skills into the engineering graduates.

I would say that instead of just churning out engineers they need to be empowered to be capable of designing products, repair and maintain those products. So let’s now look at how we can build this design capability into our engineers. Let’s look at what needs to be done to create practical engineers out of the graduates that are coming out. They need to be oriented towards practical engineering – which means that they need to train on live projects and intern in an industrial environment. They need to get an insight into products – whether they are LCD TVs or refrigerators or microwave ovens. They need to get into the act of dissecting a product, studying the product – how the plastic moulds are made, how the plastic components are designed, how the PCBs are designed, how the circuits have been designed, and learn in the process, and then – perhaps even learn to repair them. In that process, they will educate themselves about how the circuits work, how the products are put together, how they are disassembled, how they are assembled. In this process they would also get ideas about innovating further – the circuits, the PCBs, the machineries and the production process. I believe this is a very strong learning process.

Let’s look at what I have done over the last 35 years in my company called Radel. We started developing musical instruments – electronic musical instruments for the Indian musicians. There were no electronic tanpuras or electronic tablas when I started developing these. I invented these for use by Indian musicians because I knew that they were handicapped by the lack of proper support for their practice and for their travel abroad. That’s how I created the need for these products – I designed the products, and in the process trained many of the engineers on the art of designing electronic circuits, electronic PCBs, and then assembling them and putting them into plastic moulded cabinets. All these activities are done within the four walls of our organisation. This is how we developed the electronic tabla, the electronic tala instrument, the electronic veena, and the engineers were trained on developing software that goes into these products. The engineers were also trained on designing the printed circuit boards on which the electronic components are mounted. And then, the plastic housings which need to be acoustically designed, aesthetically designed, capable of being designed to hold these various components and their parts such that it is easy to manufacture as well as easy to repair and maintain.

This is how we went on to develop a team that learnt the art of designing electronic products. Once we did this, we decided that we could use the same engineers to design not only musical instruments but also hi-tech avionics products for use in Indian aircraft – fighters, as well as Naval ships. We ended up creating a team of engineers that designed and developed the distributor that goes on to the Jaguar aircraft, then a bomb release equipment, an engine starting sequence controller, and various associated ground test equipment which were a hundred percent indigenously designed, manufactured and supplied to HAL, the Indian Air Force, the Indian Navy and various other organisations. This is how, we believe, that we need to create engineers who can participate in this whole ‘Make in India’.

Let’s now look at the common thread that runs through the entire spectrum of creating engineers that meet the need of aerospace and defence on the one extreme and electronic musical instruments or consumer products on the other extreme. The common thread is that we have developed innovative solutions, we have built in a very stringent quality system where the products that are designed, have proven themselves to be extremely reliable, efficient and compact, as required by the aerospace and defence, they are very rugged, and they are also highly miniaturised. This is what we have demonstrated over the 35 years track record of innovation and indigenous development in spite of being an MSME.

Our engineers have got the exposure to the complete product life cycle, right from design, that is – I would say, conceptualisation, design, and also the criticality as associated with Aerospace and Defence. With this 35 year old track record of churning out engineers with the capability to design, manufacture and generate these products, we said we can as well create a separate institution, a vertical, and that’s how the idea of Drona, School of Engineering Practice was born. We have, over the years, trained more than 150 such engineers, who are capable of designing products in the mechanical sector, in the avionics sector, in the consumer electronics sector, PCB design, software design etc, and they have all been absorbed in very reputed MNCs and larger organisations.

We now look forward to training and mentoring such engineers in much larger numbers – and that’s what is going to happen at Drona, School of Engineering Practice.

Aerospace skilling in India

Corruption in education, skilling & placements

The VTU deserves a pat on its back for coming out in the open to acknowledge the existence of a “Placement mafia”

In a country where every well intentioned plan or program breaks down due to large numbers of takers and seekers, corruption in the field of education, skilling and placements can be no exception. As the report specifically refers to the involvement of ‘private companies’, it is clear (if any such clarity was ever required) that the private sector is no stranger to corruption. Corruption is today so deeply entrenched in the psyche of every Indian that he/she strongly believes that it is a way of life to be reconciled with, whichever side one is on.

However, if this nation aspires to become a global economic power in the next decade, the first steps will have to be in self-belief and a ‘never-say-die’ attitude that addresses every problem in a holistic and positive frame of mind. This takes us right back to education and skilling, right at the school level, not just about arithmetic and languages, but about values in life. This is what will lead to a clean and ethical manner of learning. This is what constitutes the beginning of ‘Soft Skills’. As part of graduation in Arts/ Commerce/ Engineering/ Medicine, etc., the student should automatically upgrade in soft skills that ultimately establishes the self-belief.

Aerospace skilling in India

If it was only corruption that was rampant all around us, we certainly couldn’t have fought three wars with our neighbours, put a satellite around the Mars, built our own fighter aircraft, aircraft carriers, missiles, etc. besides earning the tag of a nation of software professionals. We must therefore acknowledge that there still are a good number of clean, efficient and ethical engineering colleges as well as training and placement organisations that do not deserve to be shoved into the same basket as the rotten eggs. The VTU, as any other university, has a distinct role to play to address the situation arising out of this scandal.

One of the buzzwords heard in every seminar and workshop on education and skilling today is ‘Industry-academia’ partnerships. While everybody would want to boast of being a partner in this activity, there is hardly any perceptible change in the students being industry-ready when they graduate. The same complaint of ‘unemployability’ continues to be heard even today, and in a louder voice. How can this situation be changed?

Firstly, just as practising doctors are employed as faculty in a medical college, faculty in engineering colleges also need to possess at least a few years of industrial experience. This is rarely the case even in prestigious institutions. The next best alternative is to engage guest faculty from reputed industries with a proven track record in their domains. This is where the VTU can help by identifying specialists from industry in various disciplines who not only possess a minimum qualification in engineering, but also a rich practical experience that can help in orienting the students to practical applications. In addition, VTU can identify specific industries, irrespective of whether MSMEs or large companies, based on their domain expertise, infrastructure, proven track record and resource persons, as a database of training and skill providers. VTU can act as coordinators to link, monitor and certify the whole process of training and skilling through a process of evaluation. While this could also be open to subjectivity and corruption, an open and transparent system of administration can certainly minimise this.

The next step would be to validate and certify training institutes which possess practical training infrastructure for the skills that they are supposed to impart. It is a proven fact that the best training institutions are those either attached to or run by an industry. So, why not classify and categorise them so that students as well as colleges can seek their services as required in a transparent manner? This could be done through a process of accreditation.

Lastly, but most importantly, we as a people need to change our thinking. The root cause of many of these problems is the importance given to ‘scores’ and ‘marks’ rather than actual performance and practical skill.  A country full of people obsessed with certificates and marks for everything from primary school to engineering colleges and even music examinations, must change its focus to evaluation of practical skills, capability and performance. After all, it is the practical skill and capability of an employee that is the only consideration after the first job placement. So, why not make the first job placement itself a practical test for skills and competence? Then, perhaps, nobody will run for a paper qualification or certificates!

Aerospace skilling in bangalore

Why it is difficult to start a new venture in ‘Aerospace & Defence’ sector.

The original article appeared on EntrepreneurIndia.

It is not feasible for a budding entrepreneur to start a new venture in the A&D sector, for several reasons, the most important being the requirement of extensive domain knowledge & considerable work experience.

The term ‘start-up’ is a catch-phrase today. Start-ups are increasingly achieving success in every sector – be it technology, healthcare, eCommerce, services, etc. However, this is one phrase that cannot be applied to any enterprise in the A&D sector, since the long gestation period ensures that by the time the industry sees any returns, it can no more be classified as a ‘start-up’. Lack of funding, lack of trained technical manpower – right from engineers to shop floor workers, unfavourable procurement policy of government and restriction on the export of defence items etc, are some of the key challenges that discourage a new entrepreneur to step into the A&D space.

Here are four reasons highlighting the challenges faced while starting a new venture in  Aerospace and Defence:

1) Starting a new venture in A&D sector requires specialised knowledge – be it in the electronics, mechanical, hydraulic or pneumatic domain. This sector needs products with high precision, ruggedness to withstand extreme conditions, and reliability over a long period. Therefore, the enterprise should have the capability to design and manufacture these specialised products.

2) The stringent testing procedures are expensive and time consuming. The entire cycle, from understanding the RFQ and bidding, to the final testing, acceptance and receipt of payment from the defence organisation is a very long one.  The entrepreneur should be able to withstand the financial burden for a long period of time. Since it is a ‘long-gestation’ industry, finance is not as easy to obtain as in other fast-growing sectors.

3) The A&D sector is a highly demanding and specialised engineering sector. The industry needs to possess a distinct culture that lays emphasis on rigidly controlled processes, quality of output, attention to details, documentation and traceability, etc. Any industry that possesses these qualities and enjoys accepting challenges can find this sector highly rewarding and satisfying.

4) Since the A&D sector is dominantly controlled by the Government agencies, one need to be extremely patient and bear the slow decision making processes, even in cases where there is an urgent requirement.

Thus, it is not feasible for a budding entrepreneur to start a new venture in the A&D sector, as it requires extensive domain knowledge, considerable work experience and the ability to bear the financial burden for a length of time before realising any returns.

Making youth self-sufficient to take up entrepreneurship in A&D sector

In an attempt to empower fresh engineering graduates with the basic skills in design and manufacture, Raj Narayan initiated a training program named DRONA, a school of engineering practice. The program exposes fresh graduates to live projects and focuses on creating skilled engineers, especially for the Electronics and Aerospace & Defence sector. This gives them an insight into the complete design and manufacturing process of specialized defence equipment. Any engineering graduate, who opts for the DRONA training program at Radel, will be mentored by veterans of industry and well-known guest faculty.

DRONA attempts to address all the key issues associated in imparting skills to the engineers. The trainee goes through a complete transformation of the thought process, by which the critical, analytical and innovative skills blossom. At the same time, the graduate is trained in systematic quality analysis and documentation processes.

A major weakness among the engineers lies in communication skills. The Drona program provides training in written and oral communication skills, business etiquette and time management too. Drona offers courses ranging from 3-day orientation to a complete 6-month program.

Over the years, the program has transformed more than 150 such engineers. Radel has launched Drona as an initiative focusing on producing skilled engineers so that they cannot only ‘Make in India’, but ‘Create in India’, ‘Design in India’ and ‘Innovate in India’.

Drona

Shortage of Skilled Engineers Threatens to Ground Make In India flight.

The recent launch of Drona, School of Engineering Practice, included a lively panel discussion on the issue of skilling engineers for ‘Make in India. This was reported in OneIndia. Here is an extract: While launching the Drona School of Engineering Practice, spearheaded by aerospace veteran G Raj Narayan of Radel Group in Bengaluru recently, experts shared some crucial facts.

Some of the facts have been mentioned here:

  • About 1.5 million engineers graduated from more than 3500 engineering colleges across India in 2014.
  • Only 4 to 7 per cent of engineers are actually fit for jobs in the core engineering sectors.
  • Graduates seem to lack higher-order thinking skills, analyzing, evaluating and creating.
  • Huge demand from core engineering industries for practical engineers with hands on experience.
  • Sunrise industries of Aerospace, Defence and Electronics need thousands of skilled engineers for design as well as manufacturing.
  • Very few training schools for engineers in core engineering disciplines, especially electronics and aerospace engineering design.
  • None possesses robust processes, documentation and project management.

Practicing engineers need of the hour

Drona

Speaking to One India on the occasion, Narayan said that Drona is a logical solution to his four-decade-plus experience as an entrepreneur. “What we need today is practicing engineers. We are offering a holistic exposure to engineering.

In the aerospace and defence sector, there are very few schools in India to prepare engineers to get ready for the opportunity of Make in India,” Narayan said. Cleared by the Centre for Military Airworthiness Certification (CEMILAC), Radel has been offering system design, CAD/CAM services, design and development of airborne and ground support equipment, documentation support, development of LRUs, ground test equipment and obsolescence management for aerospace, defense and related OEM industries.

The delivering unit that fires rockets on Jaguar fighter is one of the many projects the company has executed. It has also contributed for programmes like the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Dhruv, Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas and Sukhoi (Su-30 MKI). “The Make in India vision of Prime Minister Modi is a welcome move and it will re-write the research, development and manufacturing concepts in the country. But for Make in India’s success, we need skilled and smart engineers.

A holistic exposure to engineering is the key,” says Raj Narayan. Skill the nation and not kill the nation: Vidyashankar M N Vidyashankar, President, India Electronics & Semiconductor Association (IESA), said that India will have to create over 120 million jobs in the near future. “Make in India is the key, but adding engineers into the market without empowering them is dangerous.

If we don’t skill the nation, we are going to kill the nation,” Vidyashankar, a retired IAS officer who had served with the Karnataka government said. Citing a global study, Vidyashankar said that by 2020, if India’s doesn’t take care of the echo system in the electronic segment, then it would overtake the crude oil import.

Unique features of Mission Drona

  • Promises to create skilled engineers in the fields of electronics, aviation, and aerospace and defence sectors.
  • Offers a unique Apprenternship (Apprentice-Intern) programme providing fresh engineers with training in design and manufacturing, with mentoring from veterans from the industry.
  • Trainees are provided with hands-on work experience and exposure to live projects.
  • A six-month project related ‘Campus2Career’ holistic programme includes training in soft skills.
  • Other courses offered are a short 3-week course and 3-day introductory workshops on current technology topics.
Drona

Adani Group Wants to Capitalise on ‘Booming’ Indian Aerospace and Defence Sector; But Do We Have the Skills?

The original article appeared on IBTimes

Indian multinational conglomerate Adani Group is reportedly soon expected to make an entry into the growing Indian Aerospace and Defence sector. The Gujarat-based MNC “is quietly evaluating a foray into defence and aerospace production.”

The report suggested that the Adani group could venture into helicopter manufacturing sector. ET reported that Adani executives led by Karan Adani, the elder son of billionaire group chairman Gautam Adani, have met with representatives of large overseas defence companies to explore tie-ups for manufacturing a range of defence equipment.

The Adani Group is the latest among large Indian MNCs to set foot into the defence and aerospace sector. Under the Modi government, with a view that the Indian Aerospace and Defence sector will note a phenomenal growth, several companies have recently entered the rising market.Recently reports had emerged that the Reliance Group is planning to enter the defence and aerospace sector. Similarly there also have been reports that Tatas, Mahindra & Mahindra and Larsen & Toubro are also expected to beef up their presence in the Indian Aerospace and Defence sector.

Drona

While the Indian Aerospace and Defence sector is expected to grow at a phenomenal rate, industry experts have raised concerns on the acute lack of skilled professionals for the sector. Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Minister of State for skill development and entrepreneurship, back in February had observed that the Indian aerospace sector would need at least one million skilled workmen in next 10 years.

But the biggest drawback according to Aspiring Minds Report 2014 is that “Only a shocking 4 to 7% of engineers are actually fit for jobs in the core engineering sectors”.

G Raj Narayan, Founder & MD of the Radel Group and Chief Mentor of DRONA – a finishing school for engineers — is of the opinion that engineering students, who wish to enter the Indian Aerospace and Defence sector must be given more practical training.

“Aerospace & Defence sector in India is likely to grow ten folds by 2025 opening up diverse career opportunities. But the drawback is not many engineers in the country has the requisite skills or a prior hands on training,” Narayan noted.

“It is imperative that the educational institutes expose students to practical training during the course module on global lines making them competent enough to handle the challenges later,” he added.