Whatever you dream of becoming should be well equipped with the perfect combination of diligence and intelligence – Dr. Souvik Ganguli

Dr. Souvik Ganguli
Assistant Professor, EIED
Thapar Institute of Engineering & Technology
Patiala, Punjab

Q1. Please share your educational and professional journey?

Right from my school days, I was inclined towards Mathematics and Physics. Obvious choice after +2 was to opt for Engineering. I got through in 2nd attempt though. Hence, it is not always a rosy picture throughout my career. Though I assume that this is a part of our life. We always need to struggle through to achieve success. Core branch had always been my choice and my parents. So, I never jumped for Computer Engineering as the parents and students do these days. I got admission in Electrical Engineering and enjoyed the learning process and decided to work with it in future. During my college days, we did not have too much orientation for research which I personally felt later to be a demerit of our age-old educational curriculum in India. I finished my B. Tech degree in 2002 and joined jobs in a private manufacturing company in Faridabad. During my college days, I used to teach students between standards VIII-XII. Two and half years down the line I felt that teaching was my passion and I was wasting time and energy in a wrong profession. I attempted for teaching in a private university and felt successful. After working with two private colleges, I felt Master’s degree was becoming essential to be in teaching. So, I came to back to my home town Kolkata and applied for different M. Tech programs. I got through in a Mechatronics program under the department of Electrical Engineering offered by National Institute of Technical Teachers’ Training and Research, Kolkata. After my Masters, I went on to teach in a private engineering college in my home town. Even I started contacting persons for PhD guidance in my preferred areas of interest. Within a year, I got an opportunity for a presentation cum personal interview call from Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology, Patiala. I attended the interview in March 2009 and received offer in the end of May. I joined in June, 2009 as Lecturer and later got promoted to Assistant Professor under sixth pay commission scheme. Gradually attending the professional life, I realized that holding a PhD degree for teaching position would soon become mandatory. After staying in the institute for almost two years, I joined the PhD program under the joint guidance of Dr. Prasanta Sarkar and Dr. Gagandeep Kaur. It is noteworthy to mention here, that Prof. Sarkar was my M. Tech supervisor as well from Kolkata. Dr. Kaur is associated as our department of Electrical and Instrumentation Engineering, presently serving as the Associate Professor. Initial proposal submission took place within a year after completion of course work. But the main struggle started a little later when I entered into communicating research papers to different esteemed journals and got plenty of rejections. Maintaining regularity in research was getting difficult day by day with different teaching and administrative responsibilities. I was nearly pushed to the wall with none of the ideas clicking success till late 2016. Gradually, I set aside all my priorities and concentrated on research by spending hours beyond college timings. Finally, I tasted the success with two consecutive publications in journals of repute. Thus, I was able to submit my thesis in the end of 2018 and with God’s grace was convocated in November, 2019. Now I completely realize that one can excel both in teaching and research and also maintain a good balance between the two by devoting appropriate time to each of the components. Presently I am serving my present employer as Assistant Professor (Level-2 Grade).

Q2. What did attract you towards teaching instead of any corporate job?

Basically, I have always being passionate about teaching. In fact, my first teaching started when I appeared for 10+2 exams. I was teaching a school kid of Vth standard at that time. Even during my engineering studies, I was associated with teaching physics and mathematics of +2 students. When my friends used to go home after college, I went out teaching students of different standards and used to reach home at around 9.30 pm. I still remember that after dinner time, I was to sit late at night completing my assignments and preparing myself for quizzes and other assessments. But I never disliked corporate jobs. It creates in you, professionalism, discipline, punctuality and above all regularity. Even I started my career as a Graduate Engineer Trainee in a private company dealing with the manufacture of actuators. But some where I was inclined towards teaching which motivated me to change my profession after two and half years of industry exposure. I also feel that my cycle of industry experience, though short lived, has always helped me to draw some practical analogies in my class. However, the passion of teaching and keenness to learn something new everyday has always attracted me to choose, serve and sustain in the teaching profession.

Q3. What kind of problems have you faced in your domain and how will you remove it?

Teaching is a profession where you can never stop the learning process. So, even if I teach a course, which I have perhaps taught thrice, I need to devote some good amount time to prepare my lecture in order to deliver it next day. Further, whatever I have learnt some 18-20 years during my college days, have become obsolete. Plenty of new additions have taken place. Even new subjects like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Data Analytics etc. are becoming compulsory even for Electrical Engineering branch. So, a teacher has to keep himself/herself updated with every curriculum revision. Even, he or she has to attend some refresher courses in a year or two to know about the latest trends. Teachers also has the additional responsibility of continuously informing their students about the latest technological developments taking place. When I started teaching in the year 2004, it was primarily the board and marker with which I was used to deliver or power point presentations at the maximum for some demonstrations. Handwritten assignments were acceptable. Over the years, the teaching part has undergone a radicle change. Finally, Covid-19 made all the teachers well versed with the online platforms. Actually, some old teachers like us got a big kick to transform our lecture delivery in digital mode. With the present scenario, almost everybody associated with the teaching profession are regularly making use of the digital platforms to deliver lectures, record them, edit them, take online assessments of their students and also check assignments submitted by students online. So, a teacher always has to adapt to the change in the learning environment as and when required.

Q4. How do you motivate yourself at every morning?

Motivation should come from within. From my side, self-motivation is the key. Others can only inspire or direct you but cannot dictate you. I do believe in hard work to be successful. I think everyone should remember their good memories to gain confidence from and deliver in their professional front. I have personally never run into the rat race for promotion. I keep my calm and work silently. Let your work do all the talking for you. I also think one must enjoy his/her work; success must automatically take its place when it is due.

Q5. How do you motivate students to excel in their academics and career?

It has been quite a long journey of fourteen years, in which I have taught nearly 3-5 thousand roughly. There have been many batches that have passed out during this tenure. Several of them have pursued higher studies with my recommendation. Many of them are working with leading international brands and are pretty successful as well. Few students take time to clear campus placements while others hit them at the first or second go. I have also found students inclined to do some research work in addition to the curricular activities, while many are sound technically are reluctant about research and placements. Despite studying engineering, there has been many students who opt for placements in finance and banking sectors. I have also seen students pursuing higher studies in finance. In the process of your professional career, you students must identify your passion correctly and devote completely in it. It can be an engineering or non-engineering career, it can be higher studies, few may opt for research to join top organizations like ISRO, DRDO, CSIR, CSIO etc. Whatever you dream of becoming should be well equipped with the perfect combination of diligence and intelligence. For the last few generations of students, I have found students as well as parents to be more keen about the salary packages rather than the job profile. I think you students must realize that at the end of the day, job profile or job satisfaction will play an important role rather than monetary benefits. In core technical careers, hardship is more whereas promotions take place slowly. That’s why, students are more inclined towards white collar jobs. Students must feel they will all finish up at the same place sooner or later. With the teaching paradigm shifting globally, students have to self-learners rather than spoon fed.

Q6. Who is your source of motivation?

Everyone of us has role models. I am no exception. My prime source of inspiration are my parents. Both of them were from non-technical background but they left no stone unturned for me to be I am today. I would like to convey my regards to all my teachers in my school and colleges. I would especially like to thank Dr. Prasanta Sarkar, my M. Tech and Ph.D supervisor, who has been extremely supportive to bring about the best in me. I would also extend my love and gratitude to my present colleagues who made my stay for eleven years at this institute comfortable and homely as ever.

Q7. What was your Thesis topic in Ph.D? Please share some brief about it?

I worked on system identification and control in the unified delta domain with the help of hybrid intelligent techniques. The main contributions of my thesis can be highlighted as follows:

Development of new hybrid metaheuristic algorithms: Firefly algorithm-based hybrid topologies have been developed according to the taxonomy of hybrid metaheuristics. The algorithms have been validated through several benchmark functions and the results have been compared to some standard as well as the parent heuristic techniques.

Identification in the delta domain: The developed hybrid algorithms have been appliedto identify the Hammerstein and wiener system parameters in the delta domain. Delta operator parameterization provides a unified framework in modelling of Hammerstein and wiener systems, in which the resultant model converges to its continuous-time counterpart at high sampling limit.

Model order reduction in the delta domain: The novel hybrid metaheuristic algorithms have also been utilized to develop a unified method for reduced order models for single-input single-output as well as multi-input multi-output discrete-time systems in the complex delta domain satisfying suitable constraints to ensure stability, minimum-phase characteristics and dc gain matching. The approach is unified in the sense that it is fundamentally discrete-time, but at a high sampling frequency converges to its continuous-time counterpart.

Controller design in the delta domain: The reduced-order models developed are further controlled using approximate model matching with the help of the proposed hybrid metaheuristic algorithms in the complex delta domain. The plant model, cascaded with a PID controller, is matched with a reference model approximately to estimate the unknown controller parameters. The tuned controller parameters in the delta domain almost replicate those obtained from the continuous-time approach. Thus, a unified framework of controller design has been established.

Identification and control of electric drives in the delta domain: Order reduction and controller design for permanent magnet synchronous motor drives have been carried out in the delta domain using novel metaheuristic algorithms described above. Once again, a unified modelling and control approach has been adapted for application in electric drives.

Q8. What is the meaning of success in your terms?

There is no short cut to success. Hard work must always accompany your level of intelligence to succeed in life. There is a common saying that fortune favors the brave. I honestly believe that fortune favors the prepared as well. You should be prepared enough to fight all odds. I do keep telling my students, keep your life simple. With Covid-19 pandemic, nature has taught us many things. Let us also learn from our mistakes which we have committed earlier and develop a healthy life ahead.