Interview by Bhawna Rawat
Dr. K. Gopalakrishnais currently working as the principal of Jyothy Institute of Technology (JIT), Bangalore, Karnataka. He has done his masters in Mechanical Engineering with the specialization in Production Engineering from the University of Mysore. He also holds a Ph.D. degree in Polymer Tribology from NAL-VTU. He has valuable experience in academics and research for more than 30 years.
Other than Tribology, Dr. K. Gopalakrishna’s research and teaching interests include Pneumatics and Hydraulics, Thermal Engineering and Engineering drawing. His interest also lies in the research domain of Heat Sink Optimization. His other hobbies include singing and table tennis.
Dr. K. Gopalakrishna has had significant research publications in reputed Scopus / Thomson Reuter indexed journals and a monograph to his credit. He has also been active in developing autonomous systems for surveillance funded by Naval Research Board-DRDO, Coating Systems for RP Components by ISRO-DOS and others. He has also worked as a consultant for Avni Energy and developed numerous products besides supervising students for their doctoral work. Gopalakrishna is a Reviewer for journal publications of Elsevier, Sage and Emerald. He is also a fellow of various professional bodies such as IEI, ISTE, ISAMPE, TSI.
Dr. K. Gopalakrishna is presently leading a team of dedicated faculty at JIT, who are willing to work beyond the working hours for the benefits of the students. The team with the support from management and director has implemented many initiatives such as Explore, Overseas language coaching, Paid internship in the college, Open day, bridge course, training for sports talents, fun hour, out-bound activities and many more. JIT also offers scholarships/ fee concessions to meritorious students. JIT also has a state of the art R&D centre in 16 domains. It has projects to the tune of 8 crores and has 41 PhDs on campus.
Dr. K. Gopalakrishna’s personal experience in the education sector
I have been in the education sector for 32 years and have been fortunate to teach and mould the thinking of thousands of students in my career. Like it is said teaching is indeed a noble profession. It helps teachers to be instrumental in shaping students’ future and guide them to fulfil their ambitions. I have observed parents too are glad to see their children grooming well in their chosen colleges. R&D activities within the education sector have the potential to be harbingers to the launch of great products that can have major societal and technological implications. It is an exciting sector to work as one can directly contribute to preparing the student community to meet the challenges of life confidently and be great future leaders of our great country.
Dr. K. Gopalakrishna’s philosophy of leadership
The philosophy with which I wish to take forward our institution is to lead from the front. Take the onus for failure and share the honours. Instil confidence in the faculty. Emphasize the importance of hard work and perseverance for success. Make students work hard and convey “BE ALL THAT YOU CAN BE “ at JIT.
Challenges faced by Dr. K. Gopalakrishna as the Principal of Jyothy Institute of Technology
The challenge for me in my initial period of office is to instil confidence in all the stakeholders. This requires me to keep my ears open to issues. We need to be thoroughly professional in handling student/staff problems. Next challenge is to raise academic standards through the adaption of modern Teaching-learning processes.
Dr. K. Gopalakrishna on how JIT’s curriculum ensures best practice of industry
Since JIT is affiliated by VTU, we are restrained from offering our own curriculum. All core courses and electives are already decided by the university: we only teach them at the institution. Students complete internships within the industry where they get acclimatized to their work culture and best practices. Given this, we do provide an ambient, rewarding and challenging learning environment wherein students can assimilate knowledge and skills beyond their curriculum. They get the unique opportunity, available nowhere, to get directly involved with our R&D labs.
Dr. K. Gopalakrishna’s views on the growth of students through placement opportunities available at Jyothy Institute of Technology
Placements can happen only when students acquire skill sets that are sought after by Industry to minimise training on the portals of the Industry. This can be arranged through on/off campus technical training and create a platform for students to do rigorous R&D.
To push further, we need to have elite industrialist/academicians on advisory board for support and direction.
Dr. K. Gopalakrishna on how to establish a with the students while being the Principal of the institute
I am basically a teacher & a down to earth character. I enjoy taking classes for my students. While being the principal does take a major part of my time, I make it a point to take a core course for the junior students or offer an elective to the senior students. Doing so also helps me in maintaining contact with the students. Students at JIT have the liberty to meet me during their free time. Students’ appointments are strongly discouraged during class hours.
Dr. K. Gopalakrishna’s ideas about an ideal school environment and the present environment at JIT
At JIT, we (the family of management, the principal, HoDs, professors, faculty and technical staff) have instilled an inter-disciplinary teaching-learning environment wherein students get to learn about and work with emerging technologies besides their regular university-prescribed syllabus. Based on their innate interest, they can associate themselves with an R&D lab of their choice (we have 16 R&D labs working across 23 different cutting-edge research areas) from the first year of their B.E. program itself. Working with the lab heads who are all doctorates, can, over the next couple of years on campus, lead to having publications in reputed international journals, patents and, in some instance, even products that have potential to be commercialized. I think an ideal environment is one where we allow students to blossom on their own but, for them to do, so we have to provide them with the means and show them the path. At JIT, we are doing just that and are reaping rich dividends.
The top qualities an aspiring Engineer must possess, according to Dr K. Gopalakrishna
Gone are the days when engineering graduates had to have knowledge and skills in just their area of specialization. Today, they need to be multi-faceted possessing inter-disciplinary skills and be able to understand and foray into other areas of science and technology. For instance, mechanical engineering graduates must know electronics and some computer programming besides understanding developing technologies such as IoT and their application on the shop floor. Computer engineering graduates need to understand how industries work in order to write enterprise software that amalgamates different departments of a manufacturing organization, and so on. Other than these, they must be very good at communication and excellent team players. While on the job, they must cultivate good problem solving and negotiating skills as well.
Dr. K. Gopalakrishna’s goals for JIT for the next few years
JIT is in the process of achieving NBA accreditation this year. Once done, the next goal is to obtain NAAC accreditation and thereafter NIRF with an ISO certification. We will further increase project-focused industry tie-ups not just for internship and projects but also for joint R&D efforts in STEM.
Dr. K. Gopalakrishna’s advice for the current youth and the aspiring students
Graduate students of the current generation tend to think diversely and are culturally sensitive. They are fast in adopting and adapting to new technologies and in exploring ways to employ them to be more efficient. They do not hesitate to take risks. This can be attributed, in part, to continual technological advancements and the improving socio-economic status of our country. However, they lack patience and appear to be overconfident to the extent that they are unable to face failure or even mere delays in the manifestation of their plans. They need to understand that failure is a part of growing up and an important stepping stone in one’s journey to success. They need to come out and interact with real people in the real world rather than in the virtual world and learn to handle issues and challenges with empathy and compassion.