Certain that greatness can only be achieved by mixing intelligence with hard work, Prof. Hiralal Murlidhar Suryawanshi, Director of the National Institute of Technology, Hamirpur, tells Education Post that technology is advancing so fast that technical skills acquired a few years ago are fast turning obsolete today.
Please shed some light on your academic life and how it shaped you?
Education plays a major role in shaping one’s personality. It has taught me the importance of hard work and at the same time helped my academic growth and development. I was awarded BE in Electrical Engineering in 1988 from Walchand College of Engineering, Sangli (under Shivaji University, Kolhapur) and ME in Electrical Engineering from Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore in 1994. Further, doctoral degree was conferred to me by Nagpur University in 1999. My career as an academician started in 1988 at Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology, Nagpur, where I am holding my current position as Professor (HAG) in Electrical Engineering. At the same institute, I had also served as Chair Professor (INAE) from 2017 to 2019. Presently, I am also the fellow of IEEE (FIEEE) for contributions to converters for renewable energy systems, drives, and electrical machines and Fellow of INAE (FNAE). Abdul Kalam Technology Innovation National Fellowship was received in 2021 from Indian National Academy of Engineering (INAE) and Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), Department of Science and Technology (DST). As an active researcher, I have completed 21 R&D projects, and 19 patents granted/ published.
Tell us about the 19 patents.
My research interests include Power Electronics, emphasizing developmental work in the area of resonant converters and renewable energy system, multilevel converters, high-frequency electronic ballast and electric drives. As an outcome of my research, more than 270 papers were published in international journals/ conference. In addition to publications, 10 patents were already granted, seven were published and two more were filed recently. These indicate the true potential of my research group and the strong possibility of technological commercialization of our research outcomes for the larger community.
What’s your opinion of the New Education Policy and its impact on the future of India’s higher education?
NEP 2020 basically focuses on quality of teaching and research, accreditation, employability enhancement, multidisciplinary and good governance. At present, NIT Hamirpur is actively pursuing the structuring of curriculum at the undergraduate level with creation of provisions for multiple entries and exists. The curriculum will have both the core courses and also the electives from other streams so that our graduates can perform well at any job in global context. Introduction of multidisciplinary courses in terms of some floating credits will help them to fit in any role possible and perform well. Moreover, we are also actively looking for more collaboration nationally as well as globally in terms of teaching-learning and research.
I believe that NEP 2020 will be a blessing for the education sector with new and contemporary approaches towards education. The blended mode of NEP will open the window for participation and contribution from the people from different disciplines. It will produce graduates with multifaceted understanding required for their employment. NEP will also bring the Indian education system at par with other advanced countries.
What are Indian educational institutions doing keep up with changes in electrical engineering?
Recent advancements in automation and machine learning have affected several engineering fields and their industrial applications. Machine learning and electrical engineering are jointly using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to build and optimize the systems along with application of AI technology for interpretation of new data inputs. Fuzzy logic control systems are being developed to create rules for how machines respond to inputs. Wide range of algorithms and statistical models in machine learning help the systems to find patterns, depict conclusions, and learn to perform the jobs without specific instructions. Deep learning based on artificial neural networks is found very useful for the purposes like speech and image recognition and natural language processing. Many of these hopeful accomplishments as a joint venture of AI and electrical engineering have focused on power systems. Introduction of machine learning in engineering has also been proven valuable for expansion of the field of signal processing.
Practical classes in electrical engineering entail practicing on machines and motors. How did students of this stream manage during the COVID lockdown?
The Covid situation affected people all over the world. All educational institutes around the globe had faced challenges to conduct practical classes in online mode. NIT Hamirpur had managed that time effectively using audio-visual communication technology. Our teachers and students had adopted them quickly.
In case of electrical engineering, the experiments were conducted by the faculty members in virtual mode in various labs of the department. These experiments were video recorded and shared with the students or the students were connected online in live mode during the experiments. Detailed discussion on the instrumentation was undertaken with the students. The recorded reading etc. were shared with students for calculations, data analysis, interpretation etc.
In this way, labs on basic electrical engineering, circuit theory, electrical machines, electrical measurement and instrumentation, power system, control engineering, high voltage engineering, transformer diagnostics lab, electrical workshop etc. were completed successfully.
This year, NIT Hamirpur has improved its ranking in architecture.
NIT Hamirpur has secured the ninth rank in Indian Institutional Ranking Framework (IIRF) ranking in architecture in the current year among government institutes all over the country. NIT Hamirpur had secured an overall score of 68.57 out of 100. The institute also stands at second position among the NITs. Our institute had performed well in all the six major parameters of this ranking namely employability, teaching learning resources, faculty, infrastructure, projects and case study and innovation. We are looking forward to improve ourselves for a better ranking in the next year.
How do you plan to make students more industry ready?
In my opinion, today’s engineers need to work on technical skills. Technology is advancing at such a quick pace that technical skills acquired a decade ago are swiftly becoming obsolete. Critical thinking skills and problem-solving skills are necessary for the students to be industry-ready. In this regard, the institute should work towards creating such a learning environment that can help students to have more practical exposure.
Any suggestions for students?
Your attitude will shape your future. Be positive, keep doing new things in your research, take suggestions from your seniors, and let the knowledge be transferred. Nobody is great unless or until you mix your intelligence with your hard work. Blessings are not for those who set the target, but for those who work hard to get the target.