Director Interview - Dr. VSRK Prasad (IIPE) “Our focus is on research in sustainable energy”

Director-Interview-of-IIPE-Dr-VSRK-PrasadThe energy sector is treading on the path of growth as the government stresses on harnessing not only the conventional but also non-conventional sources of energy. The Indian Institute of Petroleum and Energy (IIPE), an institute of national importance has been set up with an aim to promote research in this field. Dr. VSRK Prasad, Director, IIPE states that the institute is focussing on developing experts who can work across the various spheres of oil and gas industry. By collaborating with international institutes, the aim is to adopt and learn the best international practices in the field of research as well as apply new methods in the field of gas transportation, natural gas processing and utilization techniques.


In an exclusive interview to Careers360, Dr. VSRK Prasad talks about the various steps that are being taken by the institute to encourage the students to think out of the box and at the same time continuously motivate them to execute their ideas at the innovation lab.  Dr. Prasad emphasizes that students must take up those disciplines that are of interest to them. However, while selecting the institute to study in, he feels that they should take into account other important factors like the curriculum, faculty, vision, infrastructure etc. Read the excerpts of the interview of Dr. VSRK Prasad, Director, Indian Institute of Petroleum & Energy


Careers360: What is the relevance and rationale behind setting up the Indian Institute of Petroleum & Energy?  How is it expected to make a change?

Dr. VSRK Prasad: The Indian Institute of Petroleum Energy was set up to meet the growing requirement of expertise in the field of energy owing to the need for enhancement of efficiency of production from both fossil fuel and the non-conventional sources of energy.


With the vast fields of gas hydrates found in the Bay of Bengal, it is beneficial to have an institute established with an aim of making strides in research and development in the field of energy. This is one of the main reasons behind the establishment of the IIPE. The main emphasis on research here will be the area of sustainable energy as it will bring about a lot of change.


Careers360: What is the admission procedure for IIPE?

Dr. VSRK Prasad: Candidates are recruited on the basis of the JEE Advanced exam.


Careers360: The institute has started taking in students from 2016 for two disciplines namely Chemical Engineering and Petroleum Engineering. This year will see the second batch join in. How much is the seat intake for each branch offered?

Dr. VSRK Prasad: We are taking 50 students in Chemical Engineering and another 50 in Petroleum Engineering.


Careers360: Will these be the only two disciplines to be offered for the next few years or are there plans to introduce more disciplines? If so which disciplines and when?

Dr. VSRK Prasad: There are plans to start only one more under-graduate programme in Mechanical Engineering. Plans are afoot to start post graduate programmes in the next two to three years. The PG programs will be related to the energy field.


Careers360: IIT Kharagpur is mentoring IIPE. What does mentoring entail here and how does it help?

Dr. VSRK Prasad: For any Institute of national importance as declared by government of India, there will be a mentoring Institute. For IIPE, IIT Kharagpur was nominated to be the mentor institute. The role of the mentor institute is to help in framing the regulations, planning the academic programmes with curricula, provide the support of experts until the institute becomes self-reliant.


Careers360: Since IIPE does not have its own campus and shares resources with Andhra University, could you elaborate on how this is done? What are the facilities available to students currently under this resource sharing?

Dr. VSRK Prasad: Andhra University provides the laboratories and also the faculty to support in the labs. The common facilities like library, play grounds and the health center are also made available.


Careers360: When is IIPE expected to have its own campus ready and where is it located in Visakhapatnam?

Dr. VSRK Prasad: The State Government of Andhra Pradesh has allotted land measuring 150 acres at Anthakapalli Village, Visakhapatnam for the permanent campus of Indian Institute of Petroleum & Energy (IIPE). We are hoping that the first batch of the students will get an opportunity of having at least one semester in their own campus.


Careers360: What is the faculty-student ration at the institute? Will exist students be encouraged to take up research? If yes, how will this be achieved?

Dr. VSRK Prasad: After the latest recruitment, the ratio of faculty to students is 1: 20. Once all the sanctioned faculty positions are filled, then it will be reduced to 1:10. All the students will be encouraged to take up research. We have introduced an innovation lab in the curriculum. The students are encouraged to execute their out of box ideas, irrespective of the fact whether they succeed or fail.


The idea is to continuously motivate them to research. Also they are encouraged to interact with students at other IITs so that they remain motivated towards research and its promotion.


Careers360: There is RGIPT also which offers Petroleum Engineering and Chemical Engineering. How is IIPE different from it? What can be termed as the USP of your institute?

Dr. VSRK Prasad: One of the major differences between IIPE and other organizations is that it is the best example where industry and the academia interact on a continuous basis. The Board of Governors of IIPE comprises of members from all the PSU giants. For instance, the CMD of HPCL is the chairman with other members being CMDs/CEOs from PSUs like GAIL, ONGC, OIL, IOCL, OIDB. You see, most of the leading oil PSUs are a part of this which is a unique feature.


The curricula taught here will be prepared directly with the help of the experts from these organizations so that the programmes are more industry friendly and students are industry ready when they pass out.


Careers360: What are the challenges faced by you as the director of IIPE? What are the aspirations?

Dr. VSRK Prasad: Any new institute faces problems related to faculty, laboratories and support staff, in addition to the setting up of its own campus and related infrastructure. Here, I would like to express my thanks to IIT Kharagpur as they helped in resolving the faculty problem to a great extent. Andhra University helped us overcome the problems related to the laboratories while HPCL helped us to complete the development of the infrastructure required at the temporary campus in a record time.


As the director of IIPE, I am envisaging tie-ups with leading organizations across the world, which will help us to tread on the right path from the very beginning.  The aim is to establish an institute of international standards with a special focus on research in the field of sustainable energy.


Careers360: Facts show that around 80% of the engineering graduates in the country are not industry-ready and employable. What is your take on this and how do we address this challenge?

Dr. VSRK Prasad:  We will ensure that students get practical and hands on experience. This will be achieved by sending the students for internship at relevant industries during the summer vacation for two months. Students can see first-hand how things stand and get the relevant experience.  It will also enable them to envisage their future path.


Careers360:  The state of research in India is believed to be pitiful. How does IIPE plan to address this and contribute more to the field of Petroleum Energy considering that it is a specialised institute ?

Dr. VSRK Prasad: One reason for the fall in the research quality is the increase of number of journals being published as an alternate earning source. The other reason can be attributed to rituals of the evaluation procedures of PhDs. At IIPE, the students will be admitted on the basis of rules and regulations which are on par with international institutes like Oxford University, Cambridge University, Stanford, MIT, Texas (A&M) etc. Care will be taken to maintain such standards and ensure that research undertaken at IIPE will also be at par with that of these institutes. The objective of the research undertaken here is to ensure that it is useful for the industry and the society.


Careers360: How do you view the state of petroleum and energy in India? What scope do you see for students in the field in the years to come?

Dr. VSRK Prasad: It has been identified that the petroleum and gas sources are abundantly available in India, particularly in the Bay of Bengal. There is a lot of scope to tap the renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and tidal energy. With an increased usage of nanotechnology in solar and photovoltaic areas, students will have a bright future in the field of research and entrepreneurship. There will also be abundant of jobs that will be available.


Careers360: There are reports of a common engineering entrance on the lines of NEET? What is your opinion on this and what will be its impact?

Dr. VSRK Prasad: I fully endorse this view as it will help in reducing the stress which the students have to undergo and the huge amount of money that is spent by them in filling various application forms. There will be uniform improvement in the quality of education in the whole country. The malpractices or backdoor entries to various institutes will be brought under control with the common test.


Careers360: Any message for engineering aspirants?

Dr. VSRK Prasad: Engineering aspirants should not follow the sheep psychology in choosing the branch for admission. They must analyse which branch is most suitable for them. After that they must select the institute on the basis of the facilities that are available, the faculty and the standards set by the institute. After joining the institute, the students must think out of the box in tackling the problems, develop easy and innovative solutions.


Stay tuned to engineering.careers360 for more news and special interviews

First Published On : 24 Aug 2017 11:16 AM IST

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