A Tête-à-tête With The Polymath Dhaval Trivedi
Dhaval Trivedi is a big man. At over 6’ he stands taller than most of his peers in both stature and height. His calm demeanour and clarity of thought bespeak of a quiet confidence which is the hallmark of his personality. After graduating as a mechanical engineer, he has taken on a litany of roles: engineer, designer, entrepreneur, you name it and has pulled off all of them with élan. A finalist at the ASME global innovation challenge he has designed a lot of things: variable nose-cones for aircraft to surgical implants and everything in between. An erudite with a down-to-earth attitude he is not just a teacher but a student as well currently pursuing a degree in computer-aided design at Marwari college, Rajkot. Team MM sat down with Dhaval for a little discussion. The following interview has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.
Team MM: Tell us about your background and career trajectory.
Dhaval Trivedi (DT): I hail from Rajpur, Gujarat. I did my schooling in Saraswati Vidyamandir in the nearby town. I completed my B.Tech. In Mechanical Engineering from B.H Gardi college of engineering Currently, I am pursuing my Masters in Computer Aided Design and Computer Aided Manufacturing. In my childhood, I was fond of two things – the game of mechanics and cricket. I used to be the captain of the school cricket team. In my later childhood, I discovered that mechanical engineering designs interested me much.
MM: Given that you are into entrepreneurship and you are still a student, how do you manage all this?
DT: Throughout our lives, I believe that one is always a student as well as an educator. Learning something from someone and then teaching the same thing to someone else is what maintains a balance. When I used to be the student leader for the competitions involving Human Powered Vehicles, I learned numerous novel things. Now I am merely delivering my knowledge to other students. No doubt that my schedule sometimes becomes a bit frenetic, but I always prioritize the things. Being an entrepreneur too, I am leading a firm named Pragrathan - Rejuvenating nature, that deals with surgical implants, design and research work. So it all depends on how wisely I choose things and prioritize them.
MM: After you graduated from Mechanical Engineering, what all sorts of internships and projects did you go for?
DT: I did my internship in L&T Mumbai where I worked in the field of designing. I was clear from the very beginning that I wanted to be a machine designer. After a few years, one of my relatives had to undergo a knee replacement surgery. This incident sparked my interest in surgical implants design, and from that point onwards my focus took a diversion. From being a conventional machine designer, I now wanted to design surgical implants.
MM: Given that India is a manufacturing economy and there is not a lot of focus on design as compared to other nations, why do you think is design an essential aspect of anything?
DT: Design is the base for everything. No matter whether there is some large-scale manufacturing going on or not, an object is redundant without a robust design. I am attracting investors to aid me financially. But for that, I need to have an outstanding model of equipment and other things which would cater to their needs. In my view design is an integral part of everything and will continue to remain so.
MM: Please tell us more about your venture.
DT: In case of designing of surgical transplants, a doctor’s note is essential because he can best tell us whether a design is feasible for patients or not. So I have ventured with an orthopedic doctor from Rajkot, Dr. Umang Shinora. We had collectively planned this venture, and there have been numerous designs made. Presently, we are working on vertebrae replacement, where we have thought of creating a series of vertebrae attached with a string, which is flexible and which provides proper movement between each pair of vertebrae.
MM: Can you give us an example of what sort of design is involved in making a medical product? How is it different from designing human powered vehicles?
DT: Machine design has a set of standards, because machines work in a particular way, unlike human beings. Every individual differs physically. So what we need to do is, we need to provide numerous options so that people can use the desired object based on their comfort. We also have to keep in mind the materials that must be used to construct the implants, so that they are not toxic to the human body. Earlier there used to be 7-8 variations for knee replacement, but now this number is approximately 22-23. Also, the precision of the sizes of implants is being taken care of really well.
MM: In today’s world, how do you see human powered vehicles making an impact?
DT: We have damaged the environment way too much by consuming fossil fuels. This issue needs to be looked after seriously. There are two solutions to this problem – electrifying the vehicles and using human power. India is still a developing nation, so electrifying large number of vehicles is not possible as of now. Human-powered vehicles allow us to save a substantial amount of resources. Intracity travels will become more efficient, and it will be environment-friendly.
MM: What was your project at the Innovation Design Simulation challenge?
DT: My project was about Variable Geometry nosecone design for aircraft. We had combined design of fighter jet planes having pointed structures and passenger jet planes having inflated structures. The idea was to come up with an aeroplane which can change to the pointed design or the inflated design as and when required, even during flights. We were three people working on this project. The work necessary all the mathematical analysis based on aerodynamics. It took us around a year to finish the design successfully.
MM: While forming your firm, what challenges did you face? Moreover, how did you manage to cope up with those challenges?
DT: There were numerous challenges in the way of setting the firm. There were times when people did not agree with my ideas. However, I always had this thing clear in my mind that sidelining all the pertaining issues; I have to work and proceed towards my aim. People used to be dubious when I used to work at hospitals for understanding the implants and their functions well.
MM: Being involved in numerous interdisciplinary collaborations like surgical, anatomical, mechanical etc., do you feel that there is a need for similar partnerships in India as well?
DT: Yes definitely, such collaborations are the need of the hour, especially for a country like India. Here, the system is such that students are made prisoners of their imaginations. The several groups existing in various parts of the country remain confined to their groups. People need to understand that ultimately, we all need to combine and come together to serve the society. It is a high time for us to change from conventional to multi-disciplinary collaborations.
MM: How was your overall experience coming to NITR and interacting with the students?
DT: I am fascinated by the greenery of the campus. It is right in the lap of nature, giving a beautiful learning experience to students. The infrastructure too humbling. As far as interaction with students is considered, the response I got from them in return was highly technical and focussed. The answers given by the students were precisely what I was looking for.
MM: What kind of projects do you look forward to?
DT: My foresight is to work on combining nature with engineering. The ancient Indian literature, when bonded with engineering can result in great works. Ayurveda literature, when put together with engineering can also give us marvellous outcomes. I believe that nature has solutions to all our problems. We need to open our eyes and accept nature and its answers.
MM: On a concluding note, what message would you like to give to the readers?
DT: Failure is the biggest thing that contributes to one’s success. It makes us humble and strong.
‘Jeet te woh log Nahi hai jo Kabhi na haarte hain Magar wo woh log jo harne se thak te nahin.’
The people who are not afraid to fail inevitably succeed. Thus we must never cease to try, and keep on working unless we reach our goal.