As part of continuing background on Acara Institute, this post is about one of key people in India. There are 3 professors at IIT-Bombay who are managing the teams there: Ravi Gudi, Virendra Sethi and Ramesh. They have been doing a great job with a fairly complex project thrown at them. This is an interview with Dr. Gudi, a long time colleague and friend.

Ravi is a Full Professor of Chemical Engineering at IIT-Bombay and has been there 14 years. He received his PhD at University of Alberta, Canada in ChemE. He also taught at the University of Wisconsin- Madison for a year. He started working at Honeywell Bangalore in 2006 as a research consultant in areas of industrial process control, biofuels, energy related topics. Ravi’s research specialty at IIT-B is process systems engineering, materials technologies, and energy systems.

For the Acara challenge Ravi has primarily helped with the coordination with the US side, as that is something he has a lot of experience with, and with some of our previous collaborative projects at IIT-B, he was familiar with the general design thinking/product development process.

In Dr. Gudi’s view water, energy (distributed), transportation are some pressing challenges that would be good for the Acara challenge. What is the issue with transportation? Most major cities have congestion, so de-congestion issues, how to get around in cities without long delays. It is a social problem yet challenging technically. In general, these are all challenges that are global yet can have local solutions.

As a professor Ravi views these as important elements of the Acara Challenge:

  • Cross university exchange
  • From a development standpoint, these geographical difference enrich the overall process
  • Bringing in the social aspect so as to make the technology development more relevant
  • Bring in more diverse points working in groups
  • Student training: gains a much broader and richer experience.

I asked Ravi what is the difference between US and India universities? Ravi felt that India students pick up theory relatively faster but are a little slower on the practical aspects. So the Acara Challenge does provide the students to get that practical experience. US students seem to have more cultural experiences and are more willing to bring in the ‘hands-on’ approach to problem solving, that empowers them to address the practical aspects of the problem early. Ravi thinks the the relatively quick adaptation of the hands-on approach is more a cultural aspect that the US students bring in.