Engineering as a Career: Introducing Dr. V.C.Rao Komaravolu at Michigan Technological University

By Bijy Vattathara

Dr Rao.pngWhen did you know you wanted a career in engineering?  

” I came from a remote village with no electricity, no transportation and not well connected with communication (around 1955). While I was in high school I had no idea what engineering is. It is my brother, who travel extensively who suggested I shoulddo engineering. In spite of our weak economic situations, I ventured into engineering and worked hard. I came out successfully, passing Bachelor of Engineeringwith “honors.”

Tell us about your education.

“I joinedas junior engineer (JE) in the State Electricity Board. After six months I applied for “Technical Teacher Training” (TTT)program” offered in several universities by the government of India. I applied for this program for two reasons. One – I can go to Chennai and see the Cleopatra movie and the compensation is higher than what I was paid at that time as JE. Additionally I can get a master’s degree. The committee members asked me whether I would like to join Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) – Chennai. (I have not heard much about IIT  at that time). I said yes and rushed to see the movie as it was getting late. As expected I got selected. I got my master’s and also PhD at IIT Chennai. After completing my PhD, I got several offers as a lecturer from different universities including IIT Chennai and I accepted the IIT Chennai offer. That decision changed my life for good.”

How has engineering technology changed over your career?

“As faculty at IIT Chennai it opened up several opportunities. IIT Chennai is in collaboration with Germany I was able to visit several times to German universities and worked on research projects. I spent around a total of two years at University of Stuttgart and University of Karlsruhe and a four month language course at Heidelberg under DAAD fellowship. In the meanwhile I was trying to go on sabbatical for two years for which I am entitled from IIT. I applied to few universities, got an offer from Turkey. I asked for a salary (not knowingly), perhaps higher than the highest paid in that university. I got another offer from University of Mosul, Iraq; the year before the war started. I got my leave sanctionedfrom IIT Chennai and was about to collect the papers from Iraq embassy at Delhi. I also got an offer from Michigan Technological University (MTU) Houghton for three months visiting faculty. I used my leave to come to U.S. hoping that I can extend my visiting faculty position until the end of two years. This is the best decision of my life.

My desire for two years became 20 years at MTU and continues. MTU sponsored me to Ford Motor companyto be a trainer on CADC3P software. I became a certified instructor to Ford and had the opportunity to travel to Australia (one year) China, Thailand Phillipines in addition to India to conduct C3P training all over the Asia Pacific region. Based on my experience in NX, MTU asked me to join as PACE coordinator and teach Siemens NX courses to the students. I had the good opportunity to use NX extensively for teaching and use it in the PACE sponsored projects with other universities internationally. PACE gave me an opportunity to visit several countries like Germany, China, South Korea, Canada and share knowledge among the engineering community from other universities.”

What advice would you give future engineers?

“In life, opportunities come and go. You need to keep your eyes and ears open. When they knock on your door, you need to take a chance. If it works; good, proceed, otherwise change the course. Be happy while you keep trying for new opportunities. Every one cannot reach the same goal. Each one can achieve their best with hard work and perseverance.”

Learn more about engineering as a career. Check out all the engineering related job opportunities at Siemens. If you are a student, look at our open internship and co-op positions.

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