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To check plagiarism, AICTE tells education institutions to adopt tech tool

The Times of India | Preeti Biswas | TNN | Dec 2, 2017 |

HYDERABAD: Soon, students and academicians may face penal action if found guilty of plagiarism as the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) has instructed all technical institutions to install credible anti-plagiarism software for all academic and research and development (R&D) related activities.  As part of its effort to inculcate a zero tolerance approach towards plagiarism, the policy and academic planning bureau issued a circular to all the AICTE-approved institutions on Friday urging them to undertake strong measures to curb plagiarism. “To develop a robust innovation ecosystem in technical institutions and to prevent the menace of plagiarism, it is advised that all AICTE approved institutions should create awareness about academic integrity and use credible anti-plagiarism software for all their academic and R&D related activities such as MTech/BTech project reports, PhD thesis and research publications etc in this regard,” reads the circular.

Students submitting thesis, dissertation, term papers, reports or any other such documents often submit an undertaking indicating that the document has been prepared by him or her and that the document is his/her original work and free of plagiarism. Teachers, however, argue that despite signing an undertaking, many students resort to plagiarism due to lack of guidance as well as an attempt to take the easier path. “A majority of students simply copy statements from journals and try to reproduce them. Since there was no notice issued by the AICTE so far insisting on institutions having certain software, plagiarism often went unnoticed, especially at undergraduate level,” said Ramakrishna Reddy, president of Telangana Affiliated Engineering Colleges Teachers Association, adding how most colleges don’t even have an anti-plagiarism software. With lack of advanced plagiarism detection options available, college managements claim they have to use open source tools from the web. “Since the AICTE has not asked us to buy any proprietary software, we end up using open source tools which are not very advanced. With the circular coming into effect, we are hopeful that advanced softwarewill be available,” said Srini Bupalam, vice-president of All India Federation of Self Financing Technical Institutions.  AICTE has also instructed institutions to conduct workshops for promoting integrity and prevent plagiarism. “Institutes should warn the stakeholders about penal action in case of detection of plagiarism,” reads the circular.   Even University Grants Commission has drafted a new policy to curb the menace. As per the draft policy, three types of penalties would be imposed on those found guilty of lifting someone else’s work. While in case of ‘Level 1and 2’ offences, the researchers would get a chance to revise their work, ‘Level 3’ offence, which is ‘60% similarities’ would result in cancellation of the researcher’s registration. Whereas for plagiarism in core areas, there will be ‘zero tolerance’. – Courtesy     /    Click hereto view / download the AICTE Circular: 01/12/2017-1 page pdf:    Promotion of academic integrity and excellence and prevention of plagiarism. 


According to a study, first-born are more likely to become engineer or doctor

Brain Buxa |  16 November 2017 |

Relative probabilities: not only do second-borns differ from first-borns in terms of career choice, the trend towards choosing less prestigious occupations increases with every further child. For example, the probability for a second-born child to study journalism is 16 percent higher than for the first-born. Between the third and the first child, the difference is 40 percent. Data: Swedish Administrative Register. © MPI for Demographic Research

According to a recent study, children who are born first in the family are more likely to choose engineering or medicine as a career choice and as a consequence earn more than their siblings who choose streams like academics and humanities as a career choice. The findings, led by researchers from the Max Planck Institute in Munich, Germany, showed that the second born children are less likely (27 percent) to apply for the engineering and medical course as their career choice. The probability of choosing engineering or medicine as a career choice even further decreased with the third born choice. Third born are 36 percent less likely to apply for engineering or medical course.

The difference in the choice of university program is not only due to first born having better grades in the school but also due to the fact that parents invest more on the first born in early years which plays a crucial role in shaping the ability, preferences and ambitions of the siblings though they live in the same shared environment. “Our results suggest that parents invest more in earlier-born children than in later-born and that this shapes sibling differences in ability and ambitions even within the family,” said Kieron Barclay, demographer at Max Planck Institute.  “First-borns benefit exclusively from parents’ attention as long as they are the only child at home. This gives them a head start,” said Mikko Myrskyla, Director at the Institute, in the paper published in the journal Social Forces. – Courtesy   /    Click here to Read More Later-borns choose less prestigious programmes at university – First-borns are more likely to study more prestigious subjects at university such as medicine and engineering and can thus expect greater earnings than later-borns, who turn to arts, journalism and teaching.

Click here to download the fulltext article:  Birth Order and College Major in Sweden

Engineering a new future

The Hindu | Sci-Tech | Science |   Nahla Nainar |  October 13, 2017 | Opinion |

Engineering programmes that do nothing to address the challenges of globalisation will soon be irrelevant, says this India-born academic.

Dr S K Ramesh, Dean, College of Engineering and Computer Science at California State University, Northridge (CSUN), seen in his office.

It’s amazing where a love for solving problems can take you. For academic S K Ramesh, born in Madras and now based in California, United States, his early aptitude in working out mathematical and science problems has led him to specialise in fibre optic communication and beyond. “If there is one constant in engineering, it is change. The pace of change in Electronics and Communication Engineering (ECE) has been remarkable when you consider where we are today with ubiquitous connectivity that has changed the way we live and work all over the world,” writes Dr Ramesh, Dean, College of Engineering and Computer Science at California State University, Northridge (CSUN), in an email interview with The Hindu MetroPlus.

Dr Ramesh is also the director and lead principal investigator of ‘Bridging the Gap: Enhancing AIMS2 for Student Succes,’ a collaborative $6 million-project that involves improving overall graduation rates for all Hispanic and low-income students. Growing up in a family of bureaucrats and studying in schools all over Tamil Nadu in the 1970s, Dr Ramesh’s story has a link to Tiruchi too. Following his Pre-University course (PUC) in Loyola College, Madras, he was selected to attend Regional Engineering College (REC), Tiruchirapalli in 1976. The REC is now known as National Institute of Technology, Tiruchirappalli (NITT), and its ECE Alumni Association recently hosted Dr Ramesh for its 50th anniversary celebrations. Dr Ramesh earned his BE (Honours) degree in ECE in 1981. Upon graduation he received a graduate assistantship to pursue his Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, United States. He earned his Master’s degree in 1983 and continued his studies to earn his PhD degree from the same university in 1986. He taught at his alma mater (SIU Carbondale) as a Visiting Professor for a year before he was recruited by California State University, Sacramento where he began his academic career in 1987.

Excerpts from the interview:

Tell us a little about yourself

I was born in Madras and moved to United States to pursue graduate studies at the age of 21, soon after my BE. I was an only child. My father KA Sundaram, earned his Master’s degree in Mathematics and had a long and distinguished career in the Indian Administrative Service (IAS). He retired at the age of 58 as the head of the Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency (TEDA) that was responsible for renewable energy technology. Many projects that he envisioned almost three decades ago in solar and wind energy are now fully operational. My mother Saroja Sundaram, an Economics graduate, was a homemaker. She was an accomplished singer but literally put that on hold while I was growing up. It was not until I left for the US that she returned to her music career – two decades later. She has rendered over 500 Thevaram concerts all over Tamil Nadu and received the Kalaimamani award from the Government of Tamil Nadu in recognition of her contributions. The timeless values that my parents taught me continue to help me every single day in my life. I met my wife Utpala in graduate school in Carbondale. She has a PhD in Biochemistry and is a research scientist for the California Air Resources Board. Our elder son Arvind (26) is an electrical engineer and works for Northrop Grumman Corporation, while the younger one Anjan (19) is in college studying Biology.

Why did you choose to study engineering?

I loved solving problems and I was doing well in my mathematics and science classes in school. That led me on the path to study engineering. Electronics and Communications engineering were fascinating fields of study. If there is one constant in engineering, it is change. The pace of change in ECE has been remarkable when you consider where we are today with ubiquitous connectivity that has changed the way we live and work all over the world. I was excited to be a part of this new and emerging field. My parents thought that I would follow the family tradition and sit for the IAS exam after my studies in the US. But I had no idea at that time that I would find my true calling as an educator here. In my first semester I was assigned to serve as a teaching assistant for an introductory programming course on PL/1. I was worried since I had to learn this new programming language and serve as a teaching assistant at the same time.

But as my department head told me at that time: “You will figure it out”! Indeed, that’s exactly what happened. That lesson has stayed with me to this day and launched me on the path to becoming an engineering educator. Optical Fibre Communications was coming of age in the early ’80s and gave me a chance to work on many exciting projects going back to my roots in Communications Engineering. The other defining moment for me as I look back on my career is my involvement with Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). I was one of the founding members of the IEEE student branch at REC Tiruchi in 1978 and continued my involvement when I came to the US. The IEEE is the world’s largest, professional, technical society with over 400,000 members worldwide.

Despite a boom in engineering education, many institutions are folding up (in India especially) due to factors like a lack of adequately trained faculty. What would be a good reset point for the subject?

I am aware of this challenge and have volunteered my time along with several colleagues to improve the quality of engineering education — particularly by supporting ongoing faculty professional development. It is vital that educational institutions work closely with employers and industry to keep their curricula relevant. While the fundamentals remain the same, there are remarkable developments taking place at the boundaries between traditional disciplines for instance between Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, leading to the field of Mechatronics. We have a number of global challenges in the world today: food security, clean air, clean water, energy, sustainability, healthcare, transportation, climate change, education, and so on. Engineers continue to find innovative solutions to these global challenges that confront society. Global education needs to be integrated into the engineering curriculum to achieve maximum impact on addressing societal needs. Programmes that do nothing to address the challenges of globalisation will soon be irrelevant.

What are some of the biggest takeaways from your days at REC?

I am incredibly proud of my education at REC Tiruchi. We had some truly outstanding faculty in the ECE department who cared about us as individuals. The late Professor AL Abdussattar, who was the Head of the department, Professor P Ramakrishna Rao, and Professor MJS Rangachar and not to forget our dynamic Principal the late Professor PS Manisundaram, left an indelible mark on all of us in their own inimitable ways. Teamwork and communications are much sought after in the workplace today. Thanks to living in the REC hostels, with batch mates who spoke different languages, we had a virtual melting pot of cultures, languages and traditions. Sure, there were differences and disagreements — but the lesson for all of us was that one could disagree without becoming disagreeable!

With the increased move towards artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, are the days of the human engineer numbered?

Hardly! As we advance technologically and come up with innovative solutions that employ heuristics, AI, and Robotics, now more than ever we need engineers who understand the humanistic values and the impact of their solutions on society. There will always be a need for engineers who can create that next generation of solutions that address the contemporary issues of their time. – Courtesy    /       Profile

Watch the Video: Think CSUN: If You Want to Change the World, Be an Engineer

IIT Gandhinagar team develops system to monitor drought in South Asia

The Hindu | R. Prasad |  Chennai, October 05, 2017 |

Precipitation and temperature data provided at finer resolution than before

Saran Aadhar, left, and Vimal Mishra at Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar.

Near real-time monitoring of drought at a 5-km scale that will help policy makers in water management at a district level is now possible, thanks to tools developed and made available online by researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Gandhinagar. The researchers offer precipitation and temperature datasets and drought indicators available from 1980 to April 2017 covering the entire South Asian region. The data will be updated weekly. Besides drought, the datasets can also be used for monitoring heat and cold waves in South Asia. “We don’t know whether a particular region is in drought as we don’t have real-time rainfall and temperature data at appropriate scale. IMD [Indian Meteorology Department] provides daily rainfall data mainly during the monsoon season. There’s no real-time information at high-resolution about drought after the monsoon season,” says Prof. Vimal Mishra from the Civil Engineering department at IIT Gandhinagar and one of the two researchers who developed the dataset. Also, IMD’s drought information is based only on rainfall data and does not incorporate the role of air temperature. But higher temperature after the monsoon season can cause drought-like situation due to increased evaporation and transpiration losses.

At the district level

The team wanted to provide information in near real-time on whether a region of interest is under drought and what part of a district or sub-basin is under drought. The emphasis was to develop a dataset at a finer resolution (5 km) as the data provided by IMD and other agencies is coarse (resolution of 25 km). The researchers used CHIRPS global rainfall data which are available at 5 km resolution and corrected the data for bias and errors. CHIRPS stands for Climate Hazards Group InfraRed Precipitation with Station. “The corrected data compares well with the IMD data once we aggregate our data to the IMD scale,” says Prof. Mishra. The precipitation dataset at a finer resolution of 5 km over the entire South Asian region was evaluated against a standard rainfall database (APHRODITE) that is available for South Asia and satellite-based information. Earlier studies have shown that the Aphrodite database matches the IMD rainfall data quite well. The results were published in the journal Scientific Data.

“The drought indices — standardised precipitation index and standardised precipitation evapotranspiration index — were estimated using the bias-corrected, high-resolution data and evaluated against satellite-based drought products. The validation gives us the confidence that our dataset can indicate the severity and extent of drought at a district and sub-basin level in south Asia,” says Saran Aadhar from the Civil Engineering department at IIT Gandhinagar and the first author. The researchers used the drought indices to assess severity and extent of drought in 2015 for a four-month period from June to September. “The developed dataset and drought indicators performed well over the South Asian region. Apart from IMD, this is an additional effort to provide more real-time information on drought that can be used for decision-making,” says Prof. Mishra. – Courtesy

Indian-origin Stanford Professor Thomas Kailath to receive Marconi Society award

The Hindu Business Line | Sangeetha ChengappaBengaluru  | 15 August 2017 |

Thomas Kailath’s research contributions span over six decades

Thomas Kailath

Many contributions

The award recognises Kailath’s many contributions over six decades to information theory, communications, filtering theory, linear systems and control, signal processing, semiconductor manufacturing, probability and statistics, linear algebra, matrix and operator theory, which have directly or indirectly advanced modern communications technology. It also recognises his sustained mentoring and development of new generations of scientists. The Indian government conferred the Padma Bhushan on Prof Kailath in 2009.

His journey

Kailath earned a Bachelor’s degree in Telecommunications Engineering from the College of Engineering, Pune, in 1956. He then went to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology ( MIT) in 1957. After his doctorate in electrical engineering in June 1961, the first Indian-born student to get one at MIT, he was invited by the late Prof. Solomon Golomb to join the pioneering Digital Communications Research Group at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. In January 1963, he accepted an associate professorship at Stanford, becoming a full professor in 1968. He served as Director of the Information Systems Laboratory from 1971 through 1980, building it into a world-leading centre for communications, control and signal processing research. Kailath was Associate Chair of the Electrical Engineering Department Chair from 1981 to 1987 and in 1988 was appointed the first holder of the Hitachi America Professorship in Engineering at Stanford. Although Kailath became Emeritus in June 2001, he has been recalled to active duty, and he continues his research and writing activities to this day. – Courtesy

Data science and artificial intelligence research centre to be set up in IIT-Madras

The Times of India | Ranjani Ayyar | TNN | Aug 4, 2017 |

CHENNAI: Robert Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions (RBEI) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) on Friday to set up the Robert Bosch Centre for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (RBC-DSAI).  The mission of the RBC-DSAI is to create societal impact through multidisciplinary interactions with government, academic, research and industrial collaborators on core challenges in Data Science (DS) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). The Centre will receive Rs 3 crore – Rs 4 crore funding per year for five years. Vijay Ratnaparkhe, MD, Robert Bosch, said, “This partnership is to accelerate research for societal impact, taking a long-term view. It will set a precedent in the way big-data is used to improve our problem solving capability in industry. At the same time, the collaboration will result in shared outcomes for the benefit of society.”  Bhaskar Ramamurthi, director, IIT-M said, “IIT-Madras has been nurturing its interdisciplinary data sciences and artificial intelligence research group for more than three years now. The launch of this centre in partnership with, and generous support from, RBEI is an affirmation of the rapid growth and impact of the group’s research and teaching activities. I am confident that the RBC-DSAI will become a globally acknowledged centre working at the cutting edge of various aspects of machine learning, data science and artificial intelligence, leading to work with high social impact.”
The Robert Bosch Centre will undertake foundational research in many areas of AI and data science — deep learning, reinforcement learning, network analytics, interpretable machine learning, and domain aware AI. The areas of activity include research projects, knowledge management and dissemination, developing prototypes, outreach projects and setting up collaborative facilities and laboratories among others. The centre’s mandate requires interaction with industry and other universities, including international student and faculty exchanges. The objective is to advance scientific innovation for societal benefit.  Several technologies currently require large datasets to improve their accuracy and to adapt these technologies for the Indian context. As part of Bosch’s research and innovation portfolio in India, the centre in IIT-M will become part of a network to support ‘Digital India.’ It will advance the country in the fields of innovation and research as the world moves towards more connected hardware and software products. This research network also includes the Robert Bosch Centre for Cyber Physical Systems at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore. – Courtesy

SERB : Early Career Research (ECR) Award

Science and Engineering Research Board –  Statutory Body Established through an Act of Parliament: SERB Act 2008
Government of India
Call for Proposals under this scheme is now open. Eligible Researchers can submit the proposals till Aug 10 2017.

Early Career Research Award scheme aims to provide quick research support to the young researchers who are in their early career for pursuing exciting and innovative research in frontier areas of science and engineering.

Nature & Duration of Support:

  • The Early Career Research for the purpose of the program refers to the first assignment of the applicant in a regular capacity in a recognized academic institution or national laboratory or any other recognized R & D institution in India.
  • The Early Career Research Award is a one-time award and carries a research grant up to Rs. 50 Lakhs (excluding overheads) for a period of three years.
  • The research grant covers equipment, manpower, consumables, manpower, travel and contingency apart from overheads.


  • The applicant should be an Indian citizen.
  • The applicant should hold Ph.D. degree in Science or Engineering or M.D or M.S degree in any area of medicine.
  • The scheme encourages young researchers at the start of their independent research careers. The applicant, therefore, must hold a regular academic/research position in a recognized academic institution/ or national laboratories or any other recognised R&D institutions.
    The term “Regular” in the context of ECRA refers to one or more of the following:
    1. Those who are appointed by the institutions against the sanctioned post. Such positions are regularized/confirmed after the probation period is over.
    2. Those who are appointed in a tenure post, but are likely to be renewed after the end of the tenure
    Not Eligible: Research Associates, Guest Faculty, Visiting Scientist, Project Fellows, Faculty members whose contract is renewed every year; and those who are expecting to draw salary from the scheme.
    (In cases where it is not covered in any of the above, SERB has the right to determine the eligibility)
  • Faculties recruited through UGC-Faculty Recharge Program are eligible to apply. INSPIRE Faculty, Ramanujan, and Ramalingaswamy Fellows are also eligible to apply if they have been absorbed/appointed to a regular position. If such fellows are not absorbed/appointed in a regular position, and are receiving fellowship as well as research grant from the fellowship, such fellows are eligible to apply provided they have at least three and half years of tenure remaining at the time of submission of application.
  • The upper age limit for the ECR award is fixed at 37 years, SC/ST/OBC /Physically challenged and women candidates can apply upto 40 years.
  • Co-PIs are not allowed in the Early Career Research Award.

Selection & Mode Of Application

  • The selection will be based on the recommendations of an Expert Committee that will be constituted by the Board. If desired by the Expert Committee, the applicants may be called for personal discussion.
  • The Call for applications will be made twice a year (January and July) and will be notified through the website http://www.serbonline.in and http://www.serb.gov.in. The application form along with a proper research proposal highlighting the research work to be undertaken should be submitted online through the website www.serbonline.in

How to apply online:
For successful online submission of the application the following points may be noted:

  • Applicants should first register into the online website click here to register
  • After log-in, go to Menu –> Proposal Submission –> Form Submission. Select scheme “Early Career Research (ECR) Award” and Click on “Start Submission” Button.
  • Some of the details of your proposal like Project Title (max 500 characters), Project summary (max 3000 characters), Keywords (max 6), Objectives of project (max 1500 characters), Expected output and outcome of the proposal (max 1500 characters), Budget (Manpower,Consumables,Travel, Equipment, Contingency, Overheads ) have to be entered at the time of proposal submission.
  • Other relevant information of the proposal has to be uploaded in single PDF file not more than 10 MB as other technical document (OTD). Download Template

Termination and Transfer of the Project:

  • If any Principal Investigator wishes to terminate the project, he/she shall inform the SERB through the host institute immediately with proper justifications. The implementing institute should not incur any expenditure from the date of termination of the project or the date of resignation of PI. The institute will also arrange for submission of documents mentioned above.
  • SERB reserves the right to terminate the Early Career Research Award at any stage if it is convinced that appropriate progress is not being made or the grant has not been utilized properly.
  • In case of projects sanctioned under Early Career Research Award, the SERB allows transfer of the project along with assets to the new institute, if required. The project cannot be transferred to any other person/s. The initial host institute will not incur any expenditure on the project after relieving the PI, without the consent of the SERB.

Documents required (in PDF) should be in prescribed format:

How a patient changed the way engineering is used in Indian ophthalmology

The Economic Times | HARI PULAKKAT |  Aug 01, 2017 |

VS Sangwan likes to answer his patient questions thoroughly, and so he didnt find anything unusual when he first met Ashutosh Richhariya . It was 2004. Richhariya, who was running a business in Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh, had run into trouble with his eyes and hence his business. He had come to LV Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI), Hyderabad, to get treated. Sangwan, one of the leading ophthalmologists in the country, was preparing to operate him when the questions began to flow. Richhariya first asked Sangwan about corneal dystrophy, the genetic disease he was suffering from, where unwanted material gets accumulated in the cornea. It often begins in childhood and progresses with age and Richhariya was losing his vision in one eye when he met Sangwan. His vision improved after the surgery but he developed astigmatism, a common occurrence after eye surgery. Richhariya asked why he had got astigmatism and why it could not be stopped. “I told him that there are many uncontrollable factors,” says Sangwan. Richhariya was not convinced they were truly uncontrollable. When he came for the first time to LVPEI, Richhariya had already founded an instrumentation company called Shubda ElectroMechanial Engineers in 1997.

*Why Adaptive Optics is Important*

By 2002, it had touched revenues of Rs 100 crore. Richhariya had to shut down the business when the eye problems started. His astigmatism after the surgery really troubled him, as his eye power was changing every two weeks. Then he got glaucoma and later cataract. Richhariya is an engineer and an MBA, and so could look at a problem from two vantage points. “I was really disappointed that there were so many uncontrollable factors,” says Richhariya. “So I wanted to use the tools of quality management to understand non-conformation.” He felt he could figure out the problems in the processes followed during surgery, and then find out ways of fixing them. Sangwan encouraged him. Richhariya decided to look at the eye more closely, especially from the vantage point of an engineer.Sangwan encouraged him. Richhariya decided to look at the eye more closely, especially from the vantage point of an engineer. Meanwhile, he had to earn a living. In 2012, he joined Mahakal Institute of Technology, a new engineering college in Ujjain, as a lecturer. While he taught there, Richhariya continued to research on the cornea. He had sought Sangwans help to use the library at the eye institute, and he spent long hours in there reading. Richhariya didnt have a PhD. The management of Mahakal Institute told him that he would not get far in academics without a PhD degree. He did masters in engineering and found a professor at Ujjain Engineering College , Sunil Punjabi of the department of mechanical engineering, to be his guide. Since Richhariya wanted to research corneal biomechanics, he sought the help of Sangwan, too, who also promised to be his guide. He asked Sangwan for permission to watch his surgeries. He took corneal samples and studied them. In a few years, Richhariya had mastered his domain, but he had to surmount some systemic problems.

*Bridging the big divide*

Engineers and doctors did not see eye to eye in India, and there was little collaboration between the two disciplines. So there were very few experts, not to speak of equipment, to help Richhariya in his research. He had found out mechanical stresses of the eye produced changes in refractive index and not just changes in shape as was believed by ophthalmologists. His theory was not easy to test without high-quality optical equipment. One world class Institute at Indore, the Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology (RR-CAT) had the necessary equipment. It was not far from his home town of Ujjain, and Sunil Punjabi used his connections to provide Richhariya access to do experiments there. As he worked on corneal biomechanics, Sangwan watched him closely and began to feel that he was a serious researcher. Ophthalmologists in India have their own battles with equipment. They were too expensive and poorly maintained due to lack of technical expertise. Expensive machines often stopped working in government medical institutions, as they run out of money to get equipment serviced. Top-ranking private hospitals maintain theirs at great expense. LV Prasad Eye Institute, for example, bought a phacoemulsification machine, used in all high-end eye hospitals for cataract surgery using ultrasound. It cost the Institute Rs 50 lakh but it is poorly maintained as there are no experts available. Service is often late. Its hand piece, which delivers the ultrasound waves, can last longer if maintained regularly in the hospital. When it breaks down, the manufacturer insists on replacement rather than repair, adding to the cost. “Engineers are as important in a hospital as doctors,” says Sangwan. He saw in Richhariya an engineer who could change things, at least in his institution.

*Overseas advantage*

Richhariya, however, had his own plans. He applied for a Fulbright Fellowship to go the US to work in the best labs in his discipline. Interviewers for the scholarship were amazed at his knowledge of corneal biomechanics. “Within 30 minutes they told me I would get the fellowship,” says Richhariya. Sangwan, meanwhile, spoke to institute founder Gullapalli Rao to sponsor Richhariyas work in the US for an extra year. Rao had worked at the University of Rochester, which had one of the worlds leading optics labs. He readily agreed to send Richhariya there. Rao also agreed to hire Richhariya to start an engineering division at LVPEI when he returned. David Williams of the Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester was then developing a remarkable new technique for imaging the eye in extraordinary detail. Called adaptive optics, it is now being used in state-of-the-art optical telescopes to compensate for distortions of the atmosphere. In telescopes using this technique, mirrors change their shapes a thousand times a second to counteract atmospheric distortions of celestial light. Williams developed similar techniques to compensate for the distortions caused by fluids in the eye. Richhariya worked in his lab to understand the technology. Specifically, he worked on an Adaptive Optics Scanning Laser Ophthalmoscope (AOSLO), which can image individual cells of the retina. “He learned not just to use the instrument,” says Williams, “but also trained to set up the instrument in India.” When he returned, Williams gave Richhariya the instrument parts, which he assembled himself at L V Prasad Institute. “It is difficult,” says Williams. “Not many in the world have this capability.”

*Resultant gains*

The instrument is now assembled on a large table top. The university of Rochester owns the intellectual property, but Richhariya is free to modify as he likes. LVPEI has begun to use it for its research and to detect retinal diseases at an early stage. Richhariya is now associate director of the engineering group, which works on instrumentation used in the hospital. He has expanded LVPEI reach through academic partnerships with two IITs in India and the University of British Columbia in Canada. A partnership with IIT Hyderabad had begun informally even before Richhariya started the engineering division. D Balasubramaniam, former director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular biology in Hyderabad, had gone to IIT to give a talk in 2012. After retirement in 1998, Balasubramananian had become research director of LVPEI, where he had helped develop, among other things, pioneering techniques for using stem cells to produce corneal epithelia. This later became the largest successful human clinical trials of stem cells. “Balasubramanian threw some challenges to the engineers,” says Sumohana Channappayya, professor of electrical engineering at IIT Hyderabad. “He asked us, can we build an artificial eye? Or how can we help people who are visually impaired?” Some professors took the challenge and began working on eye-related engineering problems. Now, IIT Hyderabad works with LVPEI on long- t erm basis. The eye institute sponsors three MTech students for three years on research problems that have relevance in ophthalmology . After Richhariya joined formally, he also started a project with IIT Madras, on using lasers for eye surgery. Anil Prabhakar and Balaji Srinivasan at IIT Madras had developed a new generation of lasers called fibre lasers, which can withstand dust and reduce cost of equipment. These two institutions, along with the IIT Madras startup Unilumen Photonics, is working on a project to develop a pico-second fibre laser for ophthalmology, partly funded by the Department of Biotechnology. Unilumen will manufacture the product, when ready. LVPEI will also look at manufacturing other devices from its research. The adaptive optics device helps image the retina at cellular level and can catch degenerative diseases well before they become evident on other imaging equipment. One day, this could become a product that is manufactured in India. Meanwhile, LVPEI is developing a handheld device, along with the University of British Columbia, to catch eye infections early. Richhariya joined LVPEI in December 2012. he submitted his PhD thesis in 2013. It was so unusual that the Rajiv Gandhi Technical University, the Bhopal-based institution where he had registered for his PhD, took three years to find experts to examine the thesis. Richhariya got his PhD last month. – Courtesy

Pune’s COEP plans clinical engineering course after receiving Deemed University status

Ananya Barua |  Hindustan Times, Pune Jul 07, 2017 |

Under this programme, students will spend one year in a medical college, two years in the engineering college, and one year in the industry, said Dr Bharatkumar Ahuja, COEP Director, in an exclusive interview to Hindustan Times.

Bharatkumar Ahuja, Director COEP at his office in Pune. (Pratham Gokhale/HT PHOTO)

The College of Engineering, Pune (COEP) plans to introduce a course in ‘clinical engineering’ immediately after receiving the Deemed University status. Under this programme, students will spend one year in a medical college, two years in the engineering college, and one year in the industry, Dr Bharatkumar Ahuja, COEP Director said in an exclusive interview to Hindustan Times. He said that the re-structuring of courses through tie ups with industries to provide tailor-made programmes for their employees would be among other initiatives.  Clinical Engineering is an interdisciplinary subject which involves applying and implementing medical technology to optimise health care delivery. Roles of clinical engineers range from training and supervising biomedical equipment technicians (BMETs) to serving as technological consultants for other hospital staff and working with governmental regulators on hospital inspections/audits. With regard to an expansion of curriculum, Dr Ahuja has some big plans for the 163-year-old engineering college, COEP. “One of the first changes that we would want to bring about after attaining the deemed university status, is the introduction of dual degree programmes, which would enable more student diversity and also introduce collaborative research programmes with foreign universities,” he said.

 Since 2013, the attempts to attain the deemed status has been going on for COEP, which was once again revived this year in June, when the UGC visited the institute. According to the Director, the panel consisting of representatives from AICTE and UGC had visited the campus for inspection on June 16 and 17. “They will be deciding the worthiness of COEP to become a deemed university,” Ahuja said, adding that the panel will release their conclusion within a month or two. Speaking to the Hindustan Times, Dr Ahuja explained how despite the autonomy, the college faces certain academic constraints. “With the deemed status, we could expand our curriculum, our course structure, and especially our research purview, without having to seek Savitribai Phule Pune University’s permission at every level. Not only would this ensure more diversity to the institute but will also make things work faster. It is this 100% academic freedom, which we are aiming for,” he shared. – Courtesy

IIEST Kolkata creates first smart grid project to generate power from renewable energy

The Hindu Business Line | Kolkata, May 17Press Trust of India |

The aim is to generate 32 kW of power from whichever resource available and synchronise the smart grid to take the power in the system for use

Sources of energy

“The power to be generated from solar energy depends on the availability of sunlight while wind energy will be produced during nor’wester and tropical storm. The power from biogas will be generated from vegetable waste collected from the campus kitchen and outside markets,” the professor said. “In the integrated project, by the Centre for Excellence for Green Energy Systems (CEGESS) of the institute, we are aiming to generate 32 kW of power from whichever resource available and synchronise the smart grid to take the power in the system for use. Thus we will not be depending on one resource,” Roy said. Roy added that the world will be faced with serious situation with the depletion of hydrocarbon source. “Since coal-hydrocarbon based energy technology leads to environmental degradation, the future lies in renewable energy based technology,” he said.  The eminent scientist said, this being the age of smart technology, the institute needed to look forward.  “The government planners and academicians should be involved in big way as technology is changing very very fast.“The next 50 years will witness unimaginable change in technology, which cannot be static,” he added. – Courtesy