Dr. T S Prahlad is an Indian aerospace scientist and the Former director of the National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), Bengaluru. He is the proud Alumnus of UVCE, batch of 1961. His contributions are reported in Indian civil aircraft development programmes of Hansa and NAL Saras and light combat aircraft development programme. He was awarded the prestigious Padma Shri award in 2004. Team Sampada had the exquisite opportunity to interview Dr. T S Prahlad Sir, here are few excerpts from the interaction:
Team Sampada: Winning the Padma Shri award, enlighten our readers on your journey that led to it.
Prahlad Sir: I received my Padma Shri award in 2004 from the then President of India Dr A P J Abdul Kalam. It was a special privilege as I had worked with Dr Kalam in VSSC, Trivandrum on the SLV-3 and other Launch Vehicle Projects and also on aerodynamic and other aspects of launch vehicle technology. I also worked under his leadership on the Light Combat Aircraft project, Tejas. The work that was specifically recognized for my Padma Shri award was my contributions to Satellite Launch Vehicle technology for about 15 years, Combat Aircraft Technology through LCA Tejas for about 9 years and finally at CSIR-NAL ,Bangalore, as its Director/ Distinguished Scientist for aroud 8 years, on aerospace technologies, especially on civil aircraft projects –2 seater HANSA and 14 seater SARAS This was under the inspiring leadership of Dr R.A.Mashelkar, the then Director General,CSIR. Of course, the real foundation for all this was the excellent education I got, the foundational B.E. degree in Mechanical Engineering from UVCE, followed by M.E and Ph.D from IISc. The charismatic Prof Satish Dhawan, the then Director IISc / Chairman ISRO was my Ph.D guide and provided inspiration throughout my professional career.
TS: How was your engineering days at UVCE? Any fond memories?
Prahlad Sir: My engineering days at UVCE between 1957 and 1961 were really enjoyable. We had some very capable and knowledgeable teachers who took pains to put some engineering knowledge into our heads! I was in the college hostel for all the four years. Both the college and the hostel provided an environment to get to know so many people of varying temperament and capability and helped me to grow as a person. I was also participating in hostel and college debate competitions and it was fun.
TS: Apart from studies, what lessons did you learn at UVCE that helped you even after graduating?
Prahlad Sir: Apart from studies, UVCE days helped me develop into a more rational person with a certain amount of scepticism about authoritarian doctrines. I was an avid reader of Bertrand Russel.
TS: For future of UVCE, what are the main areas of improvement we need to concentrate upon to improve our college?
Prahlad Sir: From what I know and have heard, the college building, infrastructure and laboratories seem to be in a rather bad shape and require considerable upgrading. How do we attract the best of talent for teaching and research? Bangalore is a top place for higher education, scientific R&D and industry. How does UVCE make use of this environment? A long-term strategy for the college has to be worked out by the government and interested stakeholders.
TS: What is your advice to students of today?
Prahlad Sir: The students of today have many more resources to learn and excel compared to what we had. They should make the best use of them. Exploring new horizons (Artificial Intelligence, for example) is important for the new age students. Very Crucial – Work Hard!