Dr. Ugur Guven, Professor, Aerospace Department (UPES) and Advisory Council Member at UN Center for Space Science and Space Technology Education in Asia Pacific talks to Higher Education Plus about the future of space and nuclear technology in India.
What is the future of space and nuclear technology in India going forward?
India is one of the very few countries in the world that has both an active space program as well as an active nuclear program. In fact on both aspects, India is well recognized and respected in the global community for both its space program as well as its nuclear program.
On the space program front with the Chandrayaan Mission in 2008-2009, and its Mars Orbiter Mission in 2014 demonstrated to the world the top level capabilities of the Indian Space Program. Especially the Chandrayaan Mission was a milestone as it demonstrated the existence of water on the moon which is important for future lunar settlements.
On the nuclear front, even with all the limitations imposed on India with procuring nuclear fuel and other materials, still India has founded its own indigenous Nuclear Program and it is well on its way to expanding further with the new developments in nuclear agreements.
Students usually choose other mainstream engineering specialisation. How do you see the interest of Indian students in it?
India is a very fast growing economy and has a very bright and young population as well, which makes it very competitive in the world arena. It is not a coincidence that many engineering companies in the world have large branches in India as many engineering projects are outsourced to Indian Engineers.
Having said that, the need of the hour for India is specialized engineers who have specialized, expert knowledge in niche technology fields such as Aerospace, Nuclear Energy, Renewable Energy, Offshore Engineering etc.
This way these young and specialized Engineers can not only contribute to the real sector growth of India but also to the global economy with their expertise and capabilities.
In what way did you bridge the industry-academia gap through the Poland Mars Mission?
The Poland Mars Mission demonstrated current capabilities in terms of technology and young manpower to plan for a possible mission to Mars in the future.
The general global trend is that now private sector is getting highly involved in the aerospace sector and many owners of global conglomerates such as Amazon have shown their interest in funding various space related projects.
Real life simulation missions such as the Poland Mars Mission demonstrates these capabilities to the industry creating a synergy between academia and industry in a high-tech field. I am also happy to say that Indian students in general do exceptionally well in these types of activities. Another testimony to this is UPES students achieving no. 1 rank globally at CanSat 2017. CanSat is a prestigious annual design-build-fly competition with space related themes organized by American Astronautical Society (AAS) and American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). 40 teams from across the world were competing in the finals this year held at Texas, U.S.A including Princeton University, University of Manchester, University of Alabama, VIT University and National Aviation Academy.