Amithaba Ghosh

 
Research Stays at RWTH Aachen 1977 to 1978, 1980, 1983, 1990, 1995, 2003, 2008, 2012 (Humboldt-Fellowships)
Information about our Alumnus Prof. Dr. Amithaba Ghosh received his Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Bengal Engineering College, Shibpur, (Calcutta University) in 1964. He continued his doctoral research receiving the Doctor of Philosophy degree from Calcutta University in 1969. In 1979 he joined IIT Kanpur as Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and became Professor in 1975. From 1977 to 1978 he stayed at RWTH Aachen University with an Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation fellowship and returned for several academics visits to Aachen afterwards. From 1997 to 2002 he served IIT Kharagpur as Director and subsequently returned to Kanpur where he continued teaching as a Professor till retirement in 2006. Afterwards he was a Senior Scientist of the Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi and Honorary Distinguished Professor at IIT Kanpur and Bengal Engineering & Science University, Shibpur till 2011. Currently Prof. Ghosh is a Platinum Jubilee Senior Scientist of the National Academy of Sciences, India and an Honorary Distinguished Professor at the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Applied Mechanics at Bengal Engineering & Science University, Shibpur.

 

Interview with Amithaba Ghosh

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Why did you decide to study or complete a research stay at RWTH Aachen University?

One of the subjects of my choice is 'Kinematics and Dynamics of Machines'. The IGM (Department of Mechanism Theory and Dynamics of Machines) at RWTH Aachen is the largest and one of the most distinguished specialized institutes in this field of study and research in the world. Furthermore, I was more interested in gaining experience in an European university of repute instead of going to the UK or the USA. Thus, RWTH Aachen was the natural choice. Besides, in engineering 'RWTH Aachen' has been a wellknown name outside Germany.

Do you remember your first days here in Aachen? What were your impressions then?

Yes, very much! I opted for a 4-month course in German language (instead of the more usually chosen 2-month course) and was at Goethe Institut, Iserlohn from February to May, 1977. I came to Aachen on 1st March, 1977 to visit the Institute and meet Prof Günter Dittrich, the then Director of IGM. It was a very cold but absolutely clear day as it had snowed very heavily the night before. It was exciting for me as that was my first experience with snow. In the institute I tried to draw attention to the would be colleagues to the sparkling blue sky; but they were not interested! The common response was - "Aber es ist kalt!" Already at the beginning I felt at home in Aachen during my first short stay as I came from the academic campus of IIT Kanpur and Aachen is also predominantly a university town.

What did you learn at RWTH Aachen University that helped you in your further academic career?

„My major gain was in developing a deeper involvement with the subject of Kinematics and Dynamics, helping the Institute in solving an interesting industrial problem. Subsequently the experience helped me to write a major, internationally well-known text book along with Prof. Dittrich and my former student and Humboldt Fellow colleague at IGM.I also picked up a very effective method of teaching kinematics with the help of multi-coloured transparent models through projection with overhead projector. Beamers were not in vogue in the 80's and in India I introduced this technique. I also came across many well-known academics in the field and discussions with them enriched my understanding of the subject.“

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Could you describe in a few sentences your most rewarding experience from your time here in Aachen?

It is difficult to identify a single experience in this direction. But I must say that many small events I experienced during my different stays in Aachen had an resultant impact. Visiting Aachen in 1977 - 78 was my first experience outside India and quite a few experiences were very interesting and suggestive.

If a student asks you why she or he should go abroad to spend a research period or exchange semester at RWTH Aachen University, what would you say?

If a student of Mechanical Engineering requests for my advice under any circumstances I will recommend RWTH Aachen. It is a well-established technical university with a strong base in hardcore real engineering. If a student is inclined to do further studies in basic engineering in non-interdisciplinary areas RWTH Aachen is a good destination. Since in Germany there is no tuition fee it is really very suitable for students who cannot afford large fees.

Is there anything else you would like to mention?

Aachen is a very interesting city being located in the junction of three countries. Over and above being predominantly a university township the population is very cosmopolitan and non-conservative. With a little bit of effort from the city administration and RWTH Aachen this city has the potential of becoming a major international cultural centre. To achieve that it is necessary to form formal international cultural groups that can be done without much difficulty if the city desires. This great potential has not been tapped so far.