Category Archives: Aerospace skilling

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’?
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’?
‘What is the third quadrant’?
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.


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’.


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


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.

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.


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.


Drona Skilling centre

Job-Ready From Day One

The original article appeared in The Statesman

About 1.5 million engineers graduated from more than 3,500 engineering colleges across India in 2014, but how many of them are really employable in the core industries?

One of the studies (Aspiring Minds, Report 2014) says that only a shocking four to seven per cent of them are actually fit for jobs in the core engineering sectors. An earlier study by the World Bank (2010) showed that employers were not satisfied with the fresh engineering graduates they recruited. Graduates seemed to lack higher order thinking skills: analysing, evaluating and creating.

It is this gap between the existing education system and the actual industry requirement that needs to be met. The sunrise industries of aerospace, defence and electronics need thousands of skilled engineers for design as well as manufacture. Today, while we find many training institutes for software, even computer hardware and networking, there are very few training schools for engineers in core disciplines, especially electronics and aerospace engineering design, and none that include robust processes, documentation and project management.

Currently, the Radel Group has embarked on a novel initiative for the engineering fraternity aimed at mentoring and training them in a real industrial environment on live projects to make them industry-ready. The Drona School of Engineering Practice is a timely and unique initiative that focuses on creating skilled engineers, especially for the electronics, aerospace and defence sectors.

There are several areas where the “Apprenternship” programme offered by Drona differs from other training programmes. The most important one is the mentorship provided by veterans of industry and personal guidance from one of the most respected inventors of India. Another key differentiator is the hands-on work experience and exposure to live projects. The student gets an insight into the design and development cycle of defence and aerospace systems that meet global industry standards of performance, reliability and efficiency. The graduate is trained in systematic quality analysis and documentation processes that are essential for a manufacturing industry, especially in the A&D sector.

 The “Apprentern” is provided soft-skills training and a working knowledge of how an industry operates. A fresh engineering graduate who opts for the Drona programme at Radel goes through a complete transformation of his/her thought process, through which critical, analytical and innovative skills blossom.

Training is provided in written and oral communication skills, business etiquette and time management. The engineer emerges at the end of the course as a confident and competent young and dynamic professional, with enhanced communication skills — in effect, industry-ready. Every industrialist is aware of the time, cost and effort of training fresh engineers. In most organisations, the first few months are spent in training new recruits, with literally no output. The Drona programme takes on the initial training effort of the industry and provides the employer with a trained engineer, ready for the job, so that the employer gets productivity from the new engineer right from day one.

The intensive six-month holistic programme, “Campus2Career”, offers several skilling programmes in embedded systems, avionics, electronics design and related domains comprising all aspects that are required to make a fresh engineer job-ready. The aspiring trainee can select from a variety of subject modules that have combinations of embedded software, embedded electronics design, avionics, mechanical Cad and PCB designs, technical documentation and project management, apart from a basic introduction to various facets of industry (production, planning, admin, HR, etc) and, importantly, soft skills such as verbal and written communication, time management and business etiquette.

The first session of Drona’s “Campus2Career” starts from 1 July 2015.

Aerospace skilling in bangalore

Creating a generation of Design Engineers for Make In India

Core engineering skill is what every employer in an engineering industry looks for, in a fresh engineering graduate. Most freshers applying for jobs in this sector however, falter at the very first step – the screening test. Many cannot answer even the simplest high-school level question in physics or mathematics. Those that clear this small hurdle, fall at the next – the interview. Again, simple questions stump them. Yet, when questioned about the details, they are not able to explain anything.

Finally most of them admit that the project work was just bought out from small institutions or individuals who make a business out of it. The candidate who is finally hired by the company needs extensive training for 3 to 6 months, before any useful work is produced. Till then, there is zero output from the new employee. This story is true for many engineering industries. This is the kind of talent gap that they face.

As is well-known, the root cause for this is the over-emphasis of our education system, even at the undergraduate level, on rote-learning and theory, at the expense of practical application. Ultimately, this is counterproductive, because an engineer is basically one who has to apply theoretical principles in practice.

Tweet this:“While skilling the technician is important, creating a new generation of product designers is imperative”.

So, what is the solution? The student is helpless, as he is a prisoner of the system. So too are the teachers. It is not easy to overhaul the engineering education system, but solutions have to be found, to unlock the potential of these ‘rough diamonds’ – our engineering graduates, so that our goal of self-reliance in manufacturing through ‘Make in India’ can be achieved.

‘Make in India’ is about manufacturing our own products with IPRs owned by Indian companies. It is not about just manufacturing foreign products ‘under license’. Not long ago, we had Indian companies manufacturing ‘Indian TVs’ with component kits imported from abroad. But now, you have Korean and Japanese brands selling their TVs in India, but almost completely manufactured in China. Hence, the need of the hour is for Indian companies to learn to design and manufacture our own products.

Aerospace skilling in India

So, how do we create a generation of design engineers that can produce innovative new products? Engineering students need to learn the practical application of each theoretical concept, and need inputs on multiple aspects related to the design and manufacture of even the simplest equipment. The very process of thinking, conceptualization, and designing elegant, reliable, rugged  and power efficient products, whether in embedded software or electronic hardware, how to ‘marry’ the two, and adopting a well-documented  design process, making sure that every aspect of the product life cycle is covered.

While these concepts can be explained at brief workshops, it is only through actual hands-on work on a live project that a student or fresh engineer can learn and understand the practical implications of each of them.

While skilling the technician is important, creating a new generation of product designers is imperative. Only this can ensure a sustainable and meaningful ‘Make in India’. Radel’s new venture ‘Drona School of Engineering practice’ does precisely this.

Indian Aerospace skilling

Make In India – But who will skill our Engineering Graduates?

The USD 400 billion opportunity

The catch-phrase today in Indian Industry is ‘Make in India’. The estimated domestic demand for Electronics products alone, is of the order of USD 400 billion by 2020. Every entrepreneur in the manufacturing sector is aspiring to take a slice of this pie.

The Challenges

However, if Make in India is to become a reality, there has to be a focus on the product manufacturing sector. China today, is a giant economic power, because it is a manufacturing hub for almost everything across the globe. Unless we are self-sufficient in Manufacturing, we can never hope to match, leave alone overtake, our neighbour.To achieve this, as has been highlighted by many experts, several areas need urgent attention – such as our infrastructure, labour laws and tax laws. But by far the most important initiative needed is in making our engineers employable. This is the greatest hurdle in the realisation of the goal of ‘Make in India’. Without competent engineers to drive the programme, how can the campaign even take off? How will we create our own products?

One step further – from Make in India to Design in India

In the Aerospace and Defence sector, how will India transform from being one of the largest importers of defence equipment, into being self-sufficient in defence products and then onwards to become an exporter? We need to make our engineering graduates skilled not only in Manufacturing but in Design.

Indian Aerospace skilling, grajnarayan


Tweet this: 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 all the intellectual property ourselves.

For this, we need to skill our engineers not just as computer operators but as intelligent designers and engineers in practice.

Why do we need to skill engineers?

There has been a lot of emphasis of late, on ‘Skilling India’. Most of the initiatives under this program are focused on skilling the workforce at the technician level – electrician, machine operator, etc. There is no recognition of the crying need for our fresh engineering graduates to be made job-ready with hard-core engineering domain skills. Reports suggest that out of about 1.5 million engineers graduating from more than 3500 engineering colleges across India in 2014, only a shocking 4 to 7 % of engineers are actually fit for jobs in the core engineering sectors.

Tweet this: Studies also indicate that employers are not satisfied with the fresh graduates they recruit, and that ‘Graduates seem to lack higher-order thinking skills (analyzing, evaluating and creating)’.

There is a huge demand from the core engineering industries for practical engineers who have hands-on experience. We need to close this large gap between the existing education system and the actual industry requirement.

Today, while we find many training institutes for software, even computer hardware (assembly & troubleshooting) and networking, there are very few training schools for engineers in core engineering disciplines, especially Electronics and Aerospace Engineering Design, and none that include robust processes, documentation and project management. Industries spend several months training them on these essential skills.

In view of the need faced by Engineering students and the Indian Manufacturing Industry, Radel (a well-known name in the Aerospace and Consumer Electronics sectors) has embarked on a novel initiative – Drona, school for engineering practice, that mentors and trains graduates and fresh industry recruits in a real industrial environment with exposure to exciting live projects, to make them industry-ready.