The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is celebrating 'World Science Day' since 2002. The World Science Day for Peace and Development is celebrated on 10th of November every year,to highlight the significant role of science in society and the need to engage the wider public in debates on emerging scientific issues. It also underlines the importance and relevance of science in our daily lives.
In this regard, DTNext.com had a chat with Dr. Muthu Ramachandran, who is currently a Principal Lecturer in the School of Built Environment, Engineering and Computing at Leeds Beckett University in the UK.
Previously, he had spent nearly eight years in industrial research (Philips Research Labs and Volantis Systems Ltd, Surrey, UK) where he conducted research on various projects. Ramachndran’s first career started as a Senior Research Scientist where Muthu has worked on large scale real-time systems projects for DRDL with late President of India, Dr Abdul Kalam.
Interestingly, just like the late President, Ramachandran too, hails from small village from South Tamil Nadu. He shares with us, some memories that he had spent with Dr Kalam.
Please tell us about your journey to Leeds.
I am currently a professor in computer science at Leeds Beckett University’ UK. It’s been a long journey from Thottanampatti, a village in Madurai district. I joined IIT Madras to do my second masters M Tech in Computer Science where I met Dr Abdul Kalam at a campus interview in 1983. He was then the director of DRDL, Hyderabad and offered me a job of Research Scientist to join his team.
Can you tell us about the work experience with Dr. Abdul Kalam?
During my time in DRDL, I worked on various projects which gave me a huge motivation for research into large scale complex systems. A conference was organised by DRDO and I was one of the young scientists to give a talk on Ada (then a new computer language) for defence applications which subsequently led to the recommendation by Dr.Kalam to a senior role (scientist C grade).
Could you narrate any incident about your interaction with Kalam?
Yes. I do cherish the memories about him, while I was still a young scientist.
I remember Dr Kalam as physically very active and used to go for walks every evening after dinner. I have joined him on such walks on several evenings. We used to have informal conversations on various matters, predominantly on scientific research and India’s space research programmes. The conversations also included my career aspirations and he motivated me to pursue my studies.
I was even invited to his house once and was given some of his research papers that included papers on artificial intelligence. On one occasion, I mentioned him that I had an offer of a scholarship to do PhD abroad and that my parents were hesitant to let me go abroad. He said that I should go abroad to do my PhD quoting “thirai kadal odiyum diraviyam thedu”.
I would proudly say that APJ Abdul Kalam was my mentor and he motivated me to mark places in the field of computing.
Where you able to meet him personally later?
Sadly No. But we had letter correspondence for a while. I had invited him for a conference here, in London in 2011 for which he agreed. Unfortunately, he had to cancel the appointment at the last minute due to some official duty.
Muthu is a member of various professional organizations and computer societies: IEEE, ACM, Fellow of BCS, and a Senior Fellow of HEA. He is also invited keynote speaker on several international conferences. Muthu had worked on several research projects including all aspects of software engineering, SPI for SMEs (known as a Prism model), emergency and disaster management systems, software components and architectures, good practice guidelines on software developments, software security engineering, and service and cloud computing.