“Engineering without its Laboratories, Education without its Application; are both useless“
A vision of engineering conjures images of machinery, instruments, wires & cables, vibration & sounds. Dont believe it?-Simply type ”engineering images” into Google’s search bar and see what comes up. The images here are the result of such a search. We see these things only in a laboratory or a factory. My visions were probably similar to what the Google images show.
Not many of us in India, thought of making these things when we joined IIT or any other engg college–most people, generally thought of air conditioned offices, handsome salary packages or a passport to the USA. In those days, and perhaps even today, many people opt for MBA or IAS, IPS and the like. That is not what the IIT’s were established for.
The IIT’s were established to create people who would contribute towards making India a technological giant and a manufacturing hub. Probably, I lived up to that purpose, in a modest way and served the purpose of my education and of the investment the country made in me. I tried to make things in India, long before “Make in India” became a catch word. And I had begun with education, which is and should remain the number 1 priority of any country. My first product was an Analog Computer*, inspired by one I had seen in the Control Systems Labs of IIT Kharagpur and Delhi.
Thus began a journey that is 50 years long today. I made hundreds of things which have been used by tens of hundreds of Science & Engineering Institutions and Lacs** of students have graduated with experiments done on my stuff.
I have been a kind of techie-the hardware equivalent of a “geek”. I never myself, knew, what all I have done until I got a call from Andhra Pradesh. The caller introduced himself as Prof P V K Rao. This is how it went:
Rao: “Am I speaking to Mr Bhushan?”
AB: “Yes Sir, Namaskar***. What can I do for you?”
Rao: “Namaskar, Sir. I want to buy some experiment boards for our Lab, from you. Can you give me the prices?”
AB: “Sir, if it is a long list, you can email me and I will send you the offer.”
Rao: “No, no! You can just tell me over the phone and I will confirm the order. You can text me your bank details and I will transfer the money.”
AB(surprised): “You may want to see the catalogs and specs and all that?”
Rao:”No, no, not required, Sir.”
In a short talk, he got prices for some things, confirmed the order and asked me to text the bank details.
I suppose my un-expressed surprise communicated over the line.
He volunteered: “Sir, I have known you for long” and continued: “When I was in M Sc. (Tech) I did some science practicals and I remember the equipment was marked ‘romtek’ . I joined as Lecturer at another place and again when the practical class was there, I noticed “romtek’ on the equipment again. I continued teaching BE, and in the Engg College, I found myself working on “romtek’ stuff. I subsequently did Ph D and joined as Associate Professor in an Ethiopian University. When I went to take the lab, I was astonished to see the lab overflowing with tens of equipments , all marked “romtek” It had been piled into the almirahs and not being used. The local people said the equipment is deficient, accessories are not there etc. So I was surprised, I took a day off and spent sorting out the things. Everything was okay and we began doing experiments. I became the first one to start a separate lab for electronics at Dilla University. Ever since that day, I have been wanting to speak to you personally. I am very happy I could do so today. Now I am in Tanzania and am buying the items for Dodoma University. I dont need to see you catalogs or have written offers.”
50 YEARS OF R & D
A friend once commented that every time I made something, I should have shot of an article about it to some or the other journal. But paperwork was a pain. If a soldering iron, drill bits, transistors could write, I might have done that.
A SUMMARY OF RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT
He went on to say that now, I might, at least, make a list of products I made all these years. I have tried to jog my memory and made a summary which can be reached at:
A GIST OF USERS
A summary of Institutions using the products can be reached at:
A CALL TO DUTY
They say a Scientist conceives the Universe but it takes an Engineer to make it. Let the aspiring engineers and the already qualified engineers be proud to work with their hands, not mind their’s getting dirty and take pleasure in seeing a lump of raw material come in and go out as a finished product, processed by their hands, driven by their IIT training. Particularly, in the Indian context, little has changed from the days when the English took our cotton and sold us fabric. Therefore, let the Indian engineers understand their poor country invested money into their education, that they are debtors and that they ought to pay back, and that the best way to give back will be to use that education to ensure that bullet trains, airplanes, ships, submarines, computers, chips, phones, guns, rare chemicals, special alloys, composites, biological agents, are made here from the very basic elements & materials, to our original designs and not simply imported or assembled. It can be done, needs to be done, but is not being done.
SMILE A WHILE
This is inspired by the news of India’s upcoming Lunar Mission:
Our astronaut in space was asked by a news reporter, “How do you feel?”
“How would you feel,” the Indian replied, “if you were stuck here, on top of 10 million parts, each one supplied by the lowest bidder?”
The wheel has turned a circle in 50 years and Analog Computers could be coming back. Please visit: https://blog.degruyter.com/algorithms-suck-analog-computers-future/ and see its picture below.
RECENTLY MADE IN the USA
MADE IN INDIA IN 1970
Shown below is the Analog Computer we made in 1970
**LACS and ***NAMASKAR
“Lac” means One Hundred Thousand. Lacs is its plural.
“Namaskar” is a greeting, basically meaning-“I bow before You”