The Power Maestro: S Gopalkrishna
Mar 20, 2017 | Anubhav Singh
One pleasant morning Team MM caught up with Prof. S. Gopalkrishna from the Department of Electrical Engineering for a Candid Interview. Here are the excerpts from the talk:
MM: Introduce us to your educational background.
SG: I did my schooling from Param Jyothi Public School at my native place Amalapuram, Andhra Pradesh and completed my senior secondary from Vidwan College, Guntur, Andhra Pradesh. I joined NIT Jamshedpur to pursue an M.Tech degree after graduating with a B.Tech degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from JNTU Kakinada. After completing my M.Tech in Power Systems, I worked as a lecturer for more than two years in private engineering college named BVC Engineering College at my native place. I went to IIT Madras for PhD and immediately after completing my PhD in 2010, I took up the job of a lecturer at IIIT Nuzvid for four months, at Andhra Pradesh. I joined NIT Rourkela in August 2011 as an Assistant Professor.
MM: When did you finally realise your affinity towards Power System Instrumentation and what motivated your venture in this domain?
SG: Power system is my M.Tech specialisation. While working as a lecturer at BVC Engineering College, my area of interest lay in Control Systems. So I applied for a Ph. D. in the same field at IIT Madras but I couldn’t get it as professors did not require students in that particular area of interest, back then. Hence, I decided to pursue a degree in the field of Measurements and Instrumentation. Going with the suggestion of my guide, Prof. V. Jayashankar, I opted for Ph. D. in the area of Power System Instrumentation on "Detection of Winding Deformation in Power Transformers”. While my initial interest lay with control systems, the interactions with my colleagues and superiors helped me develop a deeper insight into this domain and realised the immense possibilities of research in this area.
MM: What, according to you, is the significance of Power systems and Instrumentation in today’s world of technology.
SG: Power, or to be very precise, uninterrupted power is essential, and it’s quite essential to protect the Power system. Sensing the alterations in voltages and currents and detecting the faults that may be occurring in the system becomes necessary for the smooth and uninterrupted functioning of a power system and that’s where instrumentation comes into play. Hence, the combination of Power System and Instrumentation is an integral part of the Electrical Engineering discipline.
MM: Tell us about few of the major projects under your supervision.
SG: I have supervised a few projects. Phase lock loop is one amongst them. It is related to the Power system field and determines the phase of a voltage vector. Apart from that, I had supervised a project on braking of electric vehicles which focuses on regenerative braking, wherein the energy during braking is restored back to the battery; thus, increasing the overall efficiency of the vehicle.
MM: Tell us about some of your recent projects.
SG: Recently we have communicated to IEEE Transactions on Sensors. It is about sensing current unconventionally, without breaking the circuit. We are using some Hall Effect sensors and a signal conditioning circuit for this purpose. One of the applications of this technique is to sense the current in a conductor running within walls (concrete). However, the efficiency greatly depends upon the distance between the conductor and sensor. Presently, we could effectively sense currents while keeping the sensor one centimetre apart.
MM: As an assistant professor of NIT how satisfied are you with the level of research work carried out here? Where do you think can improvements be made?
SG: The Teaching load per faculty is much more here as compared to IITs, because of which the faculties aren’t able to invest optimum time for research. This is actually causing a decline in the level of research work despite enormous efforts made by the faculty community.
Currently, the field of superconductors and superconducting magnets is quite promising with several uncharted aspects associated with it. We could work more on the field, but it would require a humongous amount of capital.
MM: What according to you are some of the pertinent problems faced by our department?
SG: When I joined as an Assistant Professor back in 2011, the classes were more or less uniform on an intellectual level. Hence, it was easier to teach the class as everyone more or less progressed at the same pace. However, recent batches have wide intellectual disparities, and the expectations of students vary greatly. While some expect you to increase the speed, others expect that you slow down. Hence, it becomes very tedious to maintain an optimum pace. If the faculties are less burdened, certain methods could be devised to ensure a personalised teaching system. I saw one student leave the institute after completing three whole years because he could not meet the minimum CGPA criterion and it greatly disturbed me. Such situations may be reduced if some extra care is taken by parents and faculty.
MM: Any message for the readers?
“I have noticed that students usually don’t switch off the fans and lights after classes. I would like to advise them to take such small measures and save energy. It is said that one unit saved is equal to two units generated. Simple acts like switching off lights and fans are not time-consuming and being an Electrical Engineer we should be more concerned about saving electricity.”