In search of Indian metallurgists

Interview


Perhaps this is not the right time to talk about Australian universities. With anxious parents and overwhelming national reaction to attacks on Indian students in that country, there may be second thoughts over accepting invitations to study in Australian universities.

Fine, but if you are a metallurgist, you may probably like to consider your offer seriously.

For what may await you is not just the offer letter, but also a good scholarship to pursue research. At least that is what Deakin University is ready to offer metallurgists from India.

“Actually, we don’t have that many Australian students taking up research work in metallurgy. So, we welcome students from other countries who may be interested to pursue research with us,” says Dr Peter D Hodgson, Director, Director of Research, Institute of Technology, Research and Innovation (ITRI), Deakin University.

“We know that Indian students are very strong in their basic understanding of the subject and –with proper orientation in practical aspects of research — will make fine scholars.”

Prof Hodgson recently became the only metallurgist of his country to have won the Australian Lauriatship, the biggest prize for academics given by the Australian government. Based on the funding that comes along with the academic recognition, he is trying to cobble together a team of research students that would look into sustainable ways of applying metals in manufacturing.

“Getting down the weight of the car body, for instance, which would not only reduce the amount of metal used in manufacturing, but also make use of the new methods of melting and molding steel. The new technique is called ‘strip casting’ that makes recycled steel purer than before. We would like to use this technique and find out how best it can be applied in manufacturing various steel-based products,” Prof Hodgson explained, during his recent visit to Bangalore.

Said to be one of the leading institutions for research in metallurgy, Deakin provides the right environment for students to work. Though other countries are well-represented in the team of researchers who are part of the five-year research fellowship, Hodgson said there are fewer Indians in the team. “That is why we are focusing more on India this year,” the professor mentioned.

In the last three years, the university has forged partnerships with several Indian institutions and companies, which has brought it closer to India than most other Australian universities.

“This would probably explain how serious we are in our commitment to work with Indian institutions, industry and students,” said Prof Lee Astheimer, Deputy Vice Chancellor-Research, Deakin.

“While we do take care of students from all nationalities coming to our campus, we must make it clear that students who are said to have been attacked are not from universities.

However, we are not taking things lightly in our campus. We try to provide guidance to Indian students as to how to stay safe and also work with Australian police and local authorities to make the environment secure for all our students.”

During the recent visit, the university officials said they had talk with Karnataka government in setting up research facility in the state. The institution is looking at areas such as Biotechnology, Nanotechnology and material sciences.

“The government has sounded very positive and we expect to establish the partnership

very soon,” Prof Astheimer said.

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