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#IP 1144 25 -31 August 2014


Prof. G Jagadeesh, Chairman, Centre of Excellence in Hypersonics, Department of Aerospace Engineering, IISc, Bangalore delivered the foundation day lecture on 25th July, 2014. His talk was on “PROJECTS, PUBLICATIONS, PATENTS, PRODUCTS AND THE JOY OF RESEARCH”. He began his talk by offering salutation to the founding fathers of CSIR, NAL and IISc. He recalled how Dr. Nilakantan, a mathematician by profession created a nice institution like NAL and the Wind Tunnel Facility that is no way inferior to any such facility in the world.  He further stated that CSIR created by Dr.Bhatnagar is a perfect ecosystem required for next growth of the nation. All our founding fathers of great institutions had a great vision and knew what is required for the nation.  

Bringing out the significance of the joy of research, he said how fortunate the situation is, the work of research in science is a passion and we are paid for our passion. He stated that everyone knows about basic science, engineering, technology and product, but no one talks about basic engineering. If we expect that the next ‘Samsung’ to come out of an academic institution like what has happened in South Korea, we need to give importance to basic engineering.  Stressed upon the need of scientists connecting to the society, he said that the society would appreciate the scientists when we make their life better and common man should benefit from our research endeavors.

He reiterated that without science there can be no engineering or technology, he gave an example of invention of insulin for diabetes, understanding the root cause of diabetes is science and it becomes engineering when a product like insulin is developed and finally it becomes a technology where we do not ask any question.  Science is about asking questions, Engineering is asking why not and it becomes Technology when we stop asking question (that is the point when things work). His talk was very lucid which covered many interesting features from numerous examples like Shock waves (enchanting waves in real life scenario) to his First eureka moment to the Product, a new Anti cancer tea produced using shock wave (where he said there are no publications as yet). He said quite often people and policy makers say ‘you have to make products’, and products cannot happen overnight.  According to him, the first key thing for a product  requires perfect synergy between science, engineering and technology and one should know the difference between all the three, even if we know, products may not come out the laboratory,  so one of the nice thing is to learn from nature. He quoted an example of ‘panchabhuta’ consists of earth, fire, sky, water and air. If we really would like to build a laboratory or an organization and think of a product coming out it, we need five ingredients; people (represents earth), leadership (resembles fire), vision (which is not a written statement on the board but something one should feel from the bottom of the heart), networking (like a water which networks amazingly across the geographical areas), and lastly the most important thing is money. However, with all these ingredients still nothing comes out without intensity and focus. He called upon the audience ‘can science and innovation be a part of our national ethos? ‘. In conclusion he said our scientific knowledge developed over the years  in the lab should crystallze into products that would solve problems of the society at large.

Dr S Ravishankar, Head, APMF, CSIR-NAL delivered the NAL Technology Lecture on “AUTOMATED JIGLESS INSPECTION TECHNIQUES”. He gave a brief introduction about the automated jigless inspection techniques, and spoke in length about the automated inspection framework, research challenges, features and advantages.  He stated that the precision inspection of manufactured components having multiple complex surfaces and variable tolerance definition involved, complex and time-consuming function. In routine practice, a jig is used to present the part in a known reference frame to carry out the inspection process. Jigs involve both time and cost in their development, manufacture and use. The new development described about 'as is where is inspection' (AIWIN), a new automated inspection technique that accelerates the inspection process by carrying out a fast registration procedure and establishing a quick correspondence between the part to inspect and its CAD geometry. He said that the main challenge in doing away with a jig is that the inspection reference frame could be far removed from the CAD frame. Traditional techniques based on iterative closest point (ICP) or Newton methods either require a large number of iterations for convergence or fail in such a situation. A two-step coarse registration process has been developed to provide a good initial guess for a modified ICP algorithm developed earlier. The first step uses a calibrated sphere for local hard registration and fixing the translation error. This transformation locates the centre for the sphere in the CAD frame. In the second step, the inverse transformation (involving pure rotation about multiple axes) required to align the inspection points measured on the manufactured part with the CAD point dataset of the model is determined and enforced. This completes the coarse registration enabling fast convergence of the modified ICP algorithm. He said that the new technique has been implemented on complex freeform-machined components and the inspection results clearly show that the process is precise and reliable with rapid convergence.

Dr J S Mathur, Head, KTMD, welcomed the gathering. Mr Shyam Chetty, Director, NAL presided over the function. Mr Shyam Chetty highlighted the achievements of the lab and individual acommplishments of the employees. The function ended with the distribution of the various NAL Foundation Day awards by the chief guest and a well-articulated vote of thanks by Mr A Somanarayan.  Ms Sangeetha lively anchored the programme.

R Venkatesh

#IP 1143 18 - 24 August 2014

Report of 13th AGM of ISAMPE in NAL

The Thirteenth Annual General Body Meeting (AGM) of the ISAMPE Bangalore Chapter was held on     22 July, 2014 (Tuesday) at Dr. SR Valluri Auditorium, NAL, Bangalore. The AGM also hosted the First Dr B R Somashekhar Memorial Lecture. Dr Kari Appa, Managing Director, Wind Turbine Systems (P) Ltd, Bangalore gave the first Dr B R Somashekhar lecture on “EARLY DAYS OF FINITE ELEMENT METHODS AT NAL-FY 1966 – 1968”. Dr Karii Appa highlighted the interest of Dr B R Somashekar in applying the FEM technology to compute unsteady flow phenomena in super sonic flow. Further FEM was used to more complex flow phenomena to compute - Kinematically consistent unsteady aerodynamic coefficients in supersonic flow.

The event was graced with the presence of former  NAL Director, Dr. K N Raju (close associate of Dr. B R. Somashekhar) and Mrs.Anasuya Somashekhar, wife of Late Dr B R Somashekhar. The speaker was felicitated with a memorial plaque. Shri Shyam Chetty, Director, NAL presided over the event. The business session followed the inaugural function and the technical talk. Mr D Saji, Chairman ISAMPE BC took the members through the proceedings. Mr HV Ramachandra presented the statement of accounts. Secretary’s address was delivered by Mr Sandeep Panigrahy.

#IP 1142 11 - 17 August 2014

Towards ‘acche din’ in Indian Aeronautics

The title of the talk itself was revealing: ‘A fresh agenda for Indian Aeronautics’ – the emphasis was on ‘fresh’, but equally important were ‘agenda’, ‘Indian’ and ‘aeronautics’. Prof. Roddam Narasimha in his annual “birthday” lecture offered, as he has himself been practicing consistently through his long, prolific and prodigious career, an opportunity to look afresh at ourselves – as scientists of NAL and as members of the Indian aeronautical community. In a typically Socratic mode, he raised questions: Why hasn’t Indian aeronautics been as successful as the Space programme? What are the lessons learnt from the LCA programme? Can we take a page out of the Chinese? What part could NAL play to revive the flagging fortunes of Indian aeronautics? How do we leverage the changed (and charged) political climate brought in by the new government at the Centre? In response, a broad swathe of perspectives was offered.

Prof. Narasimha prepared the ground by pointing that the LCA programme created a rich knowledge-base and significant pool of engineering talent and expertise, which India is at risk of losing due to lack of projects of a similar scale. Are we enacting a repeat of what Raj Mahindra called ‘the lost decade’ – a reference to the 70s wherein we squandered the experience gained from the HF-24 Marut programme due to lack of any serious national initiative in aircraft design and development. Prof. Narasimha proposed the Regional Transport Aircraft (RTA) to spearhead this much needed new wave. It should be a turbo-prop aircraft, he said, executed in a public-Private Partnership (PPP) mode, preferably as part of a global consortium. He also suggested that the RTA could be viewed as a common “civil-military” platform that would also address the transport aircraft needs of the Indian Air Force in terms of the Avro and AN-32 replacements, thus generating the numbers and associated economic viability needed to make it successful. While presenting strong arguments for adopting the turbo-prop technology (greener aircraft, lower operating costs, better suitability to Indian conditions), Prof. Narasimha also spoke of the potential research opportunities that it offers (propeller aerodynamics, integrated propeller-wing design, multi-disciplinary optimization), delving into each of these aspects, including some of his own research. He thus touched upon all the dimensions (with equal ease) – strategic, economic, environmental, scientific and technological – such an endeavor would impact.

In the final analysis, a prescription that the Indian space programme offers us, he said, is the need for an “overarching empowering authority” and a “strategic vision” to realize the potential and ambitions of the Indian aeronautical community. The message couldn’t have been more timely and heart-felt. And coming from one whose professional life has almost paralleled Indian aeronautics and space programmes, it merits serious consideration. 

Ramesh Sundaram and G M Kamath

Prof. Roddam Narasimha (former Director, NAL) awarded Padma Vibhushan, Science 
and Engineering, 2013 (Jan 26, 2013)
Roddam Narasimha - The Evergreen Professor (Mar 26, 2013)
Archives of Professor Roddam Narasimha's Lectures
The Narasimha Years
Professor Roddam Narasimha's 1985 lecture on the curious history of rockets
Tryst with history

#IP 1141 4 - 10 August 2014

Dr U N Sinha’s 67 th Birth Day Lecture On  ‘ Emerging  Quantum Computers’

It was 18th July 2014, 9.30am, at the conference hall of the CSMST main building. About 30 scientists in the hall, were eagerly looking forward to a lecture by Dr. U N Sinha, titled "Emerging Quantum Computers".

Dr.  G N Dayananda, Head CSMST, the host of the lecture, began by wishing Dr. UNS on his birthday and mentioned that ever since the inception of the division of CSMST, a lecture by Dr. UNS has been arranged on every July 18th to celebrate his birthday. He said this was the 4th lecture in that series.

Dr. UNS said it was always a joy to be amongst colleagues of NAL talking about science and technology. His enthusiasm was infectious and a silent atmosphere prevailed as he began to speak. He said that his lecture, as usual, was an informal one, about science and hence does not require power point presentations. Saying thus, he moved to the white board in his characteristic style with a marker to write.

 He began his lecture by recalling that in the previous lecture he had spoken about the combined potential of solar energy & hydro-electricity harvesting. He said it was worthwhile to reflect upon the earlier thought before delving into the new topic.  Referring to a recent study by Prof. T N Krishna Murthy over Tamil Nadu, as a solution to the water crisis of the state, he said, if we can conceive  the  mammoth thought of introducing a mountain in the path of the monsoon to improve rains, then, certainly the task of using solar energy over our coastline and the seas to increase the hydro-electricity generation should be possible. He mentioned that he strongly believed in the possibility of this green technology and that it should be explored as an answer to today's energy and environmental crisis.

With this, he switched to the current topic of Emerging Quantum Computers, saying "let's talk physics". He emphasized that Quantum Computers (QC), are no more a mere theoretical/hypothetical possibility. He said "they have already been realized and they are being used. Let's have a look at the need of these powerful computers". He took an example of cryptography and continued, "the most complex encryptions are used by some of the prominent western govt. agencies and banks, for which, very large prime numbers are used. Consequently, to factorize these large prime numbers and to carry out operations on them require a huge computing power, of the likes that only quantum computers can deliver. Hence they are strategically very important". Having said this, he explained a few basic principles of quantum computers and concluded his talk, by saying, "I am a CSIR man, always ready and available for work on societal needs".

This was followed by a few questions from the audience and discussions.

Finally the event concluded with Dr. Dayananda thanking Dr. UNS for the  exciting lecture in the new and frontier area of science and technology.

K S Venkatesh

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