A Sedulous Scholar: Rajesh Kumar Prusty
Hailing from Bhubaneswar Prof. Rajesh Kumar Prusty, Assistant Professor, Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering has always remained a bibliophile and an ardent student at academics. From being a topper during his school days to obtaining AIR 1 in GATE, he has achieved it all with grace and confidence. Team MM finally got an opportunity to interact with him where he shared the ups and downs of his journey till date. Here are the excerpts
MM: Can you give us an insight into your life after joining NIT ROURKELA? Was metallurgical engineering your choice?
RP: I had always wished to pursue engineering as my profession. Luckily, my rank led me to a seat in NITR where I studied Metallurgical and Materials Engineering. During our time, we didn’t have so many options like that of the present branches. As per my rank and advice from uncle who was all praises about scope of Metallurgy in Rourkela Steel Plant, I chose this branch.
MM: How involved were you in co-curricular or extra-curricular activities during your stay? Apart from all the academic hustle in your life, did you develop any interests in any other activity?
RP: I was never really involved in any sorts of student activities. Besides my regular studies, I tried looking for opportunities related to higher studies. But now when I look back to those days, I regret a bit not having involved myself in any activities.
My hobby is visiting places. Whenever I go anywhere for a brief stay, I visit all the nearby places that are a tourist attraction. During IISc days I visited Goa and Ooty. During JSL days I visited quite a few places like Jaipur, Shimla, Amritsar and Jammu. Recently I went to Bangkok for a conference and visited Phuket too. I have always loved travelling.
MM: How was your career curve after passing out from NITR?
RP: After working as a GET (Graduate Engineer Trainee ) at JSL Stainless Steel for about a year, I went for Masters at IISc Bangalore. After completing my post graduation, I joined KIIT, Bhubaneswar where I worked for six to seven months before joining NITR.
MM: What was your experience at IISc Bangalore like when compared to NITR?
RP: IISc Bangalore is the premier institute for pursuing Masters in India and I feel lucky to be a part of it. The teaching fraternity is unmatched and the laboratories, equipments are state of the art. Life was quite hectic there, carrying out experiments, analyzing and plotting results. There was not a minute to spare, but at the end of the day, I felt that something productive has been accomplished.
Compared to NITR, funding for projects was smooth and hassle-free and facilities were better too. Nevertheless, NITR is also trying to grow and it’s only a matter of time that things will be better,
MM: You have always remained a champ throughout your academic life, be it school topper or GATE AIR 1 holder. Was it easy or you felt that you were under unnecessary pressure?
RP: I always like to focus on my work and give my best, without bothering much about the outcome or what people have to say. AIR 1 in GATE is definitely luck coupled with my hard work. But I had always aspired to be in the top 5 to 10. My family and peers were a great supporting factor.
MM: What tips would you want to give to students preparing for GATE?
I believe slow and steady approach is efficient than studying at the last moment, which most people do. Building strong foundations and working on concepts is the secret and you need to practice a lot before the final day.
MM: While many students are changing their career paths, you have maintained your profession in metallurgy throughout. How difficult was that?
RP: At B-Tech level, I developed some interest gradually but it was not until I joined IISc that my vision towards the world of metals and materials changed. People always tend to think that metallurgy as such is very confined a discipline. But this is certainly not true. The world of materials is so diverse and fascinating that one cannot feel inferior to other disciplines.
MM: It’s been more than two years since you joined the institute. How has the transition from a student in this institute to being an assistant professor been?
RP: During my initial days it was a bit uncomfortable to be called as a colleague by the faculty. I didn’t know whether to respond as a student or a faculty member to their call. But now I enjoy working with them and I interact with B.Tech and M.Tech students in lab and classes regularly. Interaction is required to maintain a strong relationship.
MM: Are you satisfied with the facilities being provided to professors in the institute? Do you call for any developments?
RP: On a personal note, yes, I am satisfied with the facilities. The TEQIIP fund being provided to me has helped me pursue my Ph.D. here. Developments are always necessary and NIT Rourkela has been taking steps for the gradual development of the institute. This should continue further.
During our time too, infrastructural developments were at a good pace as they are now. Even after passing out in 2010, I used to visit the institute during several occasions, and was quite fascinated by the new buildings coming up and renovations being done.
MM: You have a total of 9 publications to your name and your current research is being funded by DRDO. How are the research facilities in NITR? What developments do you want to see further?
RP: I have gone through this phase and I am glad I was a part of NITR. The research facilities being provided here are adequate and most of my research papers I pursued here itself and very few in IISc. Bangalore.
There is a drastic difference between the undergraduate research during my time and now. Students are themselves interested in having a few publications within these four years and there is a healthy competition that urges them to proceed. There is no right and wrong time to pursue research. Be it a second, third or a final year, research should be pursued if there is interest and a topic must be chosen in which the student is interested in. The time required to complete the work is solely based in the pursuer’s interest and there is no absolute time frame for that.
MM: From a student to a professor in NITR, do u feel the need for a curriculum change? Do you feel the institute is updated with all the required technology in the metallurgy department?
RP: The curriculum has already been changed from my student times here. The curriculum should be revised periodically and it must be ensured that the students are updated with the current technologies and methodologies.
Research is the prime focus of the branch and the professors are working extensively to get new projects and publications that require to be acquainted with new developments.
MM: With a lot of effort being put into strengthening alumni relations and being an alumnus of the institute, do you feel the current efforts will bear a fruit and what is your take on the alumni relations in the institute?
RP: Recently, yes. With so many seminars and silver and golden jubilee celebrations taking place, it is nice to see and interact with people who hold reputable positions and were a part of this institute. This motivates and inspires us to do something better with the opportunities available and it makes us respect the institute more.
The interactions with the alumni help us revise our methods and being more exposed to the outside world, their suggestions help us in improve. We should reach out to them, speak to them and get them here to strengthen our Alumni relations.
MM: What are your words of advice to the students of NIT Rourkela?
The students of NIT Rourkela are very talented. Students should do work only in which they are interested in and not succumb to societal or departmental pressure. The opted work should be performed with utmost sincerity and dedication. One should always stick to one interest and not diverge into various fields.