Interview with Prof. (Dr.) Prafulkumar Udani
Prof. (Dr.) Prafulkumar Udani
Director General at CVM University
Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India
Q1. Please share your inspirational journey with us?
Joined SAC / ISRO in 1984 and opted for voluntary retirement in 2013 – reason being wanted to join Academics.
First assignment at SAC/ISRO was design and development of Satellite Navigation Applications ( GPS word was not coined) and first lesson learnt was about ISRO’s working and grooming culture, functioning of multidisciplinary team within and across organizations for achieving shared goals and objectives, projects planning and monitoring systems.
Worked with team of great Scientists and Engineers in domain of Earth Observations Data Products, SATCOM Applications, Remote Sensing Applications, Geospatial Technology enabled Information Systems for Natural Recourses Management, Disaster Management, Automatic Weather Stations Data Processing, and Societal Applications of Space Technology.
Received good recognition for development of Mobile GIS Software & System, Desktop Image Processing and GIS Software and both listed under Technology Innovation and Technology Transferred to Industry.
Inspired by senior colleagues and seen their success in journey from ISRO to Academics, decided to join academicsand started academic activities in association with professional societies– IETE, ISG, CSI, and ISRS from 2004.
Joined for Ph.D study in 2005 and completed in 2010 and started preparing for College / HEIs administration and in 2013 joined as Director ISTAR – PG Studies & Research Institute.
Prepared for NAAC accreditation and received A – Grade for ISTAR. Improved lab infrastructure, revised curriculum, started new Certificate, Diploma and Degree programs at ISTAR for peer recognition and revenue generation. Signed MoUs with National and International Organizations / Institutes, strengthened research and consultancy activities and provided good placement to all deserving students.
It was not required as Director but still was teaching full course in MCA, M.Sc. IT, Environment Science & Technology, M.Sc Geoinformatics and enjoyed teaching and inspiring youth for career planning.
Continued preparing myself for next higher position –Vice Chancellor / Pro VC and joined as Vice Chancellor / President – Vivekananda Global University, Jaipur – in 2019 and worked for 2 years. COVID – 19 Pandemic disturbed envisaged professional as well as personal planning.
ISRO (1984-2013), ISTAR/CVM (2013-2017) and VGU- Jaipur (2019-2020) provided good opportunities, exposure, learning and relationships nurtured is net gain in Life Balance Sheet.
Q2. What was your goal for CVM University as a Director General?
CVM University is established in 2019 and having 30 constituent colleges with student strength 20000 plus and faculty strength 1300 plus and providing quality education in Engineering, Science, Architecture & Planning, Arts, Commerce, Management, Law, Education, Ayurveda and Pharmacy. Most Institutes are NAAC A grade accredited and many professional programmes are recognized and accredited by respective agencies.
Academic Leadership at CVM University is well experienced, knowledgeable, committed and collective priorities decided are:
- Curriculum and Programmes Integration and aligned with NEP2020
- Networking with reputed National and International Organizations and Institutes
- Research Promotion
- Alumni , Industry and Community Engagement
- Recognition by Recruiting Agencies as most preferred for talent acquisition
- Digital Transformation of Administrative, Academics and Assessment tasks
- Strengthening of Academic and Physical Infrastructure
- Recruitment of students from PAN INDIA , Asia – Pacific and African Countries
- Engaging practicing professionals as adjunct / visiting faculty
Q3. How do you excel students in their academics and career at CVM University?
- Multiple Learning and Assessment Opportunities ( MOOCs, SWAYAM , Industry Certification)
- Specialization and Minor Degree with 16-20 additional credits
- Embedding internships and project based learning across all programmes
- Assessment of Skills Gap and Enhancing Employability
- Innovative and employment focused programmes
Q4. Indian Universities have a lack of Entrepreneurship and R&D cells. Do you think this problem must require an urgent solution in Indian Education System for new Entrepreneurs and Researcher’s?
Recently scenario has changed due to government policies, support from research funding agencies and help provided by regulatory authorities and results are visible.
We have established Start-up & Innovation cell under SSIP Scheme of Government of Gujarat and received grants for establishing AICTE IDEALABs. Substantial grants have been received from ISRO, DST, DBT, and GUJCOST. R & D cell is established and 170 plus research scholars are working on problems relevant to industry, society and government programmes.
Q5. You worked on core GIS and GIS based support & planning system. What kind of solution did you get from this GIS system? How was your experience as a Scientist in ISRO?
Developed Mobile GIS and Desktop IP-GIS Software and Technology of both have been transferred to Industry and many Institutions and local government agencies are using across the country.
GIS-MIS based Information Systems designed and developed at ISRO viz. NRIS, NUIS, NDEM have helped many National and State government organizations in better planning and decision making. Geospatial Platforms – Bhuvan, VEDAS, and WRIS … are providing required GIS enabled services.
Team ISRO has significantly contributed in capacity building and vendor development.
Q6. Tell us about one of the moments which changed your perspective towards life?
13 January, 2013 – The Day, Decision taken to join Academics.
Q7. You started Geoinformatics courses in ISTAR. How do you see the future of Geoinformatics for a new student?
ISTAR is ranked No 1 Institution in Gujarat – College Category by GSIRF and Geoinformatics department has contributed. ISTAR Team – Faculty & Students received first prize in NASA competition and all students are provided internship support and paid stipend.
It is a PG course and providing good job opportunities for students. IIRS – ISRO linkage is providing in-depth knowledge about applications and new developments in domain. Curriculum design is also unique and in each semester2 courses of IT domain and one course applications are included.
Q8. You had both scientific and administrative experience in your long span of career. Which one do you like most and why?
ISRO tag has significantly contributed in my acceptability in Academics and success achieved in Higher Education Administration. University System is providing more freedom, opportunity of working with young minds and professionals from diverse domains. More tangible outcomes and visible results of good work done are immediately seen and appreciated.
Q9. Which one thing do you want to change in yourself and why?
More Tolerant – Started practicing from the day joined academics in 2013. Academic Environment is different and diversity is embedded and to be respected.