Interview by Yash Panchal
Dr. Vinayak Ranjan is currently the HOD & Professor in the School of Engineering & Applied Sciences at Bennett University. He did his B.Sc (Mechanical Engineering) in 1991 from Bihar University. He completed his Ph.D. (Mechanical Engineering) in 2006 from Indian Institute of Technology (BHU) Varanasi. Dr. Ranjan holds a vast working experience. He worked as an Associate Professor and Assistant Professor at ISM Ghaziabad; Senior FEA Analyst at Caterpillar Engineering Design Centre; Senior Scientist and Scientist at ICAR-NIRJAFT.
His research areas include Vibro-acoustic-piezoelectric energy harvesting with plate structures; Dynamic interaction of the wheel rail contact; Structural analysis with finite element method; Dynamic stiffness method, Rayleigh Ritz method; Mechanics of knee prosthesis Design and Design of flame proof apparatus for mines. He has also been a part of various key research projects.
Dr. Ranjan won second prize or the paper on Contact stress analysis of wheels-rail by Hertzian method and finite element method which was published in the journal of Institution of Engineers. He has also been a Visiting Researcher at City University of London and University of South Florida, USA.
Dr. Ranjan’ s experience in the education industry
I had been a member of faculty in the department of Mechanical Engineering at Indian Institute of Technology (ISM) Dhanbad, Jharkhand for nearly nine years before accepting the position of Head of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Bennett University. Prior to IIT Dhanbad, I had also served at US multinational company Caterpillar Engineering Design Centre at Chennai and had been at various scientist positions in the division of Mechanical Engineering at ICAR, a government of India research organization.
From my previous experiential learning, I can say that a research-intensive educational organization such as Bennett University gives a higher level of job satisfaction to faculty as it provides a very vibrant platform to implement the ideas on teaching and research through its undergraduate, postgraduate and Ph.D. students.
Dr. Ranjan’s philosophy of leadership
I see my role as facilitator to members of the faculty, students, and staff for achieving the goals of the department. I work desperately to keep the happiness index and excitement in our department at a higher level. This helps me bring out the best in the students, members of faculty and staff. I understand that every student is different and need very different treatment to bring out academic and extracurricular excellence. I like to lead by delegating decision-making power to my faculty members, staff and to our students, I like to lead by facilitating open communication and by demonstrating by action and example. I lead by providing a strong shoulder on which my faculty members, students, and staff can rely upon.
Significant challenges faced by Dr. Ranjan as the HOD & Professor, Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering of Bennett University
My thrust is to create a vibrant faculty-staff-student friendly academic environment in which seeds of excellence would germinate. My priority is to bring top-notch faculty with Ph.D. from IITs and abroad with significant post-doctoral research experience in India or abroad and/or with significant industrial experience. The second priority is to establish an industry driven research laboratory in the cutting area of research. A strong industrial connect with the live project coming to the department is yet another challenge on which we are working very closely with industries.
Dr. Ranjan on the major difference in the Universities of India and Abroad
A major difference in the university education abroad is that engineering education is more focused on problem-solving approach for industry and society. While in India, teaching mostly remains on learning and gaining knowledge by reading and more theory based and less focused on practical knowledge. However, this is one of the major differentiators in Bennett University where Times Group looks forward and has set up an industry driven laboratory for hands-on practical experience for students to nurture their creativity.
Curriculum of Bennett University
We have updated our curricula to best fit in the industry. Up to the sixth semester, we have incorporated major course components as core courses. For example, solid modeling, finite element method, and computational fluid dynamics are compulsory courses with 52 hours of extensive hands-on experience on major extensive industry-level software like CATIA, Altair’s Hyper Mesh, etc. This creates industry level ready CAE / CFD engineers suited for engineering design centers for auto companies, heavy industries, and R&D centers, hydro and gas turbine industry. On the other hand, course curricula also make mechatronics, automation, gas dynamics and propulsion, vibration and advance manufacturing technologies such as CNC as a mandatory course to best suit industry requirements in thermal, manufacturing and aerospace domain.
Further, the seventh semester is all elective so that student can further specialize in different elective threads such as Automotive engineering, Aerospace, Bioengineering, Production engineering and Industrial engineering. The final semester is fully industrial internship or R&D internship at abroad or in a top-notch research institution in India such as IIT/CSIR labs. Mechanical students can also opt for minors in other disciplines such as Minor in computer science. We are also working with University abroad for a dual degree such as B.TECH. from Bennett and M.TECH. from University abroad. We have active collaborations with University abroad and continuously work with industry to incorporate the requirements of the industry in our curricula. I personally have not found such strong course curricula in any university in India.
Growth of students through placement opportunities available at Bennett University
Industrial or research internship is mandatory in the course curriculum. The industry and placement opportunities are excellent in the Bennett University. All second-year students of 2016 batch have been offered industry internship. Our department has also managed to get five internships with a fellowship for 2016 batch B.Tech. Mechanical students at the University of South Florida, USA and two months of research internship with a fellowship at Tsinghua University China for our all Ph.D. students. We are working on joint Ph.D. program with one supervisor at Bennett University and another supervisor at universities abroad in Europe or USA. We also look forward to industry-sponsored M.Tech. and Ph.D. program for working engineers. We have signed into MOUs with different University for cutting-edge teaching and research at par with International standards. Our Department is working for visiting faculties from abroad as well.
Dr. Ranjan’s relation with the students and his availability for them
I encourage students to talk face-to-face with me as well as with any member of the faculty. Regular meeting with students is another way of interaction. I keep communication open with students to discuss issues like internships, students design projects and involve all students in organizing activities such as workshop, seminars.
Future growth of Mechanical & Aerospace Field in India and across the globe
Simulation-based design engineers like CAE/ CFD domain is one of the fastest growing domains serving in automotive, heavy industries, aerospace industries, hydro, thermal and power sectors. Our B.Tech. curriculum is tuned to this requirement. Our mechanical engineering design center at BU is equipped with advanced workstations with the latest software in Computer-aided engineering (CAE) and Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) domain. Every B.Tech. Mechanical student of BU gets more than 50 hours of dedicated hands-on laboratory experience in CAE and CFD each. Another domain is manufacturing sectors. Again, the BU course curricula are framed to cater this segment with full six months of industry internships in these industries. Our curriculum has made Mechatronics, automation and advanced manufacturing technologies courses as compulsory courses as required for manufacturing sectors.
Further to this, B.Tech. students have the option to choose electives in a particular thread such as Aerospace, Bioengineering, Automotive, Production. Apart from this, B.Tech. Mechanical students can pursue a minor in Computer Science Engineering as well to make them market-friendly in the domain of Computing. Our Ph.D. curriculum is tuned at par with International Universities. We are working for joint Ph.D. program with Universities abroad in the cutting area of research. We are also working for industry M.Tech. and Ph.D. program for working engineers under joint supervision. From my experience, I would like to say, this is one of the evergreen branches of engineering education which will all time survive and grow. This branch is the spine of a nation’s development.
Top qualities that an aspiring Mechanical/Aerospace Engineering student must possess
From my experience, I can say that desire to acquire knowledge by putting honest and guided effort is one of such quality required. Further, at Bennett University, we inculcate in students the problem-solving approach, team effort, interpersonal and leadership skills and necessary technical skills to make them a perfect engineer.
Suggestions to the current youth and the aspiring students
A healthy body, a healthy mind and putting a regular, disciplined and honest effort to acquire skills and knowledge are the steps to sure success. So, embrace these qualities. Success will follow you.