October 26, 2022

Inspiration for the day

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Ajith Kumar, Wabtec, USA

Ajith Kumar of Thiruvananthapuram, who is the Vice President, Technology Innovation at Wabtec, the giant US locomotive company, recently surpassed its legendary inventor George Westinghouse in the number of patents held: 362 to be exact, against 361 of Westinghouse’s.  At 71, he may have some doing to surpass the 513 patents held by Thomas Edison.  But he bubbles with enthusiasm of a 20-year-old.

His father was a mathematics professor and mother a headmistress.  As a child in the 1950s, they admitted him into a rural school outside Corporation where the boy was assessed to be competent for 3rd grade, thus, saving two years.  Later, of course, they got him transferred to a Corporation school. 

He graduated in Electrical Engineering from College of Engineering, Thiruvananthapuram in 1972 with record grade.  He later worked for three years in the newly-formed Keltron of Kerala Government.

His dream of going to US for higher studies materialized when the local Rotary Club provided him scholarship for 1 year of his studies in Stanford University.  As he was unsure of the monetary source for the second year, he finished all his credits and projects in one year itself.  He had hoped to pocket the first-year final semester fee by finishing his studies before that, but the University said he can graduate only at the end of the year, and after paying the final semester fees.

After graduation, he joined GE, where he continues to serve.  His main contributions are in three areas: one, in converting Direct Current (DC) traction to Alternating Current (AC); two, trip optimizer that optimizes the dynamic breaking based on tonnage, route and speed limits; third, the ongoing invention of battery-operated locomotives.

His advice to young engineers in India: look at technologies around them and come up with practical solutions.



Sujith John (text), The Times of India, September 28, 2022. 


"Perseverence, secret of all triumps."