“Satisfying experiences, but more needs to be done”: Prof. R V Raja Kumar
Prof. R V Raja Kumar, Director, IIT Bhubaneswar, speaks to Rajaram Sukumar on what inspired him to be a teacher for the 10th-anniversary edition of Careers360, June 2019.
As a child, I was always inspired by extreme engineering structures and dreamt of becoming an engineer and assuming the role of creating them. My beloved father Shri Jayarama Krishna Prasad, an outstanding civil engineer, was responsible for sowing these seeds in me. He took me to visit big projects, including hydel projects, dams and huge buildings, during my childhood and I got inspired by the awesomeness. How music programmes could be heard from my grandfather’s radio set was intriguing too. My pursuits began with creating replicas, models and live projects at home with full cooperation of my beloved mother Smt Bharati. The choice and developing capacity to build engineering creations served as the objective for my education which led me to take up engineering and go for a PhD in Signal Processing.The quest made me participate and win prizes for engineering design by Institution of Engineers and research papers by IEEE. My top choice for career was either a faculty position in a leading IIT or a scientist in front line defence R&D labs. I started my career early as a faculty member at IIT Kharagpur, though I had several other opportunities and also figured in top three ranks of Indian Engineering Services. A faculty position at an IIT gives an opportunity to carry out top class research and also to contribute to major nationally important research projects. I could indeed contribute system designs in some national projects related to Sonar Homing Systems, Missile Communication Systems, Radio Systems etc. Teaching is the only profession that involves training of human beings (more sophisticated than machine intelligence and programming) on cognitive front and I feel fortunate to get the opportunity to teach many students as well as teachers from across the country for the last three-and-a-half decades. The opportunity to help create the Rajiv Gandhi University of Technology as its first full-time Vic Chancellor is also close to my heart. A career in education was my top choice. The experiences so far give me immense satisfaction, but a lot more needs to be done in shaping up our future generations and the endeavour will continue.