In the series of Know Your Prfessor, this time we are going to tell you about one of the most loved professors in IIT KGP, who is very close to his students as well as his alma mater. Professor Navtej Singh, an alumnus of the same institution where he has been serving as a professor for last 32 years, has spent 46 years of his life in this campus. Presently, he is delivering his services as a professor at Aerospace Engineering Department, IIT Kharagpur.
He did his Bachelor's in Aerospace Engineering from IIT-KGP in 1975 and also completed his Masters in 1977 and Ph.D. in 1982 - all three from IIT KGP. His ambition was to serve as a professor at his alma mater but due to lack of the required experience, he could not do so. He was hell bent on to be here and he joined sponsored research projects here itself. In 1984, he joined the institute as an assistant professor and has been guiding the students for more than 30 years. In 2007, he was appointed as the Head of the Department.
Life at KGP: As a student
During his undergraduate studies, he resided in RK Hall of residence and then VS Hall of residence. According to him, modern modes of telecommunication and entertainment has brought a tremendous change in students' life at IIT KGP and the level of facilities available has been improved significantly. They had no TV or the internet at hall rooms at that time, they used to spend quality time with their friends and take part in various extra-curricular events. Professor Navtej Singh was interested in weightlifting and went on to represent the institute in Inter IIT Sports Meet. In those days, students had great zeal and enthusiasm to cheer for their respective halls in GC competitions at the stadium but now, students are busy in their own business and only a few students can be seen as spectators.
During his college days, professor C N Laxminarayan was his favorite, as his enthusiasm was at another level and he used to give 3 lecture daily even at the age of 60 years. He says that there used to be around 15 students in a class during his time which lead to better student-faculty ratio. It was a good environment for the student-teacher relationship to get stronger. Now, as the increasing batch size, it is becoming more difficult for teachers to interact with the students. The decrement in number of working hours is also one of the crucial factors as Saturday used to be half working day at that time.
Being a Professor
He tells that the professors should treat their students as their own wards. He always enjoys talking to the students as it brings new energy within him. He shared one of the incidents when he was a counselor at JEE counseling.
He asked a student about his problem as he seemed pretty confused while filling the choices of colleges and branches. The student told him that he wanted to be at one of the IITs but his father wanted him to study Computer Science at ISM Dhanbad. Then professor Navtej provided him the required guidance and told him to follow his desire irrespective of what other people are saying. The student, studying at IIT-KGP changed his branch to Computer Science. He came back to KGP after many years and when he met professor Navtej, he took his blessings and thanked him. Professor wasn't able to recognise him instantly and then he got reminded of the entire story.
Major Research Areas
His field of research work is- Aerodynamics. He works on Frictional Fluid Mechanics and Numerical Techniques. He has contributed to the LCA (Light Combat Aircraft) programme started in 1980 to replace the older MIG-21.
On IIT-KGP Ranking
According to him, it is a good sign for us to have IIT Kharagpur in top ranks of employability rankings but the declining rank of KGP in QS ranking is one of the matters which needs to be thought upon. Something needs to be done for improving the declining faculty-student ratio to make the institution achieve better ranks.
He says that the increasing tuition fee is not the correct remedy for it as many of the middle class families will have to face a great difficulty and loan is also not a good alternative for them. Though there are less number of IITs in the country but they should be within the reach of each and every class of society.
Currently, there are very fewer numbers of core jobs related to aerospace engineering available in India and most of the employment opportunities in Aerospace Engineering are being provided by government firms. M.Tech. students are more inclined towards these core jobs than B.Tech. students. B.Tech. students are now looking for non-core jobs i.e. software development, management and financial services etc.
From Archives of Memories
He shared the memories about the deadly flood that devastated Kharagpur in 1978. All the members of the institution, be it students, staffs or professors, everyone was on their feet to help the victims. The faculty members, students, and workers tried their best, went to the nearby villages, provided food and arranged for their shelter and left no stone unturned in helping people out there. All of them worked together to overpower the adverse conditions and it was quite motivating and exhilarating experience for him.
Message For Students
His prime advice for the KGP students is that they should regularly attend their classes as it makes the teachers more enthusiastic while delivering the lecture. They should study comprehensively in well planned manner and should not depend on the last night study for exams. He further says that relation between students and professors needs to be strengthened by the effort of each of them. That will make IIT Kharagpur a place for ‘Excellence in Action'.