It is astonishing at times about how much the mere presence of a foreign brand seems to catch people's attention, more so, if it pertains to products that can be termed rather “classy”. As the announcement was made that the country's top flight “salesman” would be giving a talk at our university ; the response it evoked was understandably toned down, until it was further established that the “salesman” was in fact the President of Boeing – India.
Dr.Dinesh Keskar, an alumnus of VNIT- Nagpur and later the University of Cincinnati -where he completed his PhD under Neill Armstrong (yes, the very same…) – arrived in Pilani on a rather tight schedule. That probably explains why there was no more than a 5-minute delay in starting off the talk, and the brisk, to-the-point manner with which he went about it.
Expressing his pleasure at being able to kick-start APOGEE '11, Dr.Keskar pertained that this talk was originally scheduled for the 26th, but was advanced as he was to leave for the US on the same day, for a meeting of the US-India Business Council, of which he's a Board Member. Moving ahead, he spoke about how important it is for new technologies to not only be efficient and useful, but also affordable. The Concorde, the first commercial flight to break the sound barrier, could reduce flying time from Paris/London to New York by half, but it incurred such a huge economic loss that only 20 such models were ever designed. Projected figures of $3600 Billion over the next 20 years, he explained, should cast aside any lingering doubts about whether the aircraft market would continue to thrive strongly, despite the setbacks felt during the recent financial meltdown. The Asia-Pacific economic zone alone would account for as much 40% of the total revenue, putting to rest the US-Europe hegemony in the field.
He further went on to highlight the technical details of Boeing's newest flight the ‘787 Dreamliner', which, he said, would be “the most cost-effective carrier ever designed… (It) will revolutionize aircraft design for the next century.” Built largely using composite carbon-fibres, the plane is said to be more than 70% fuel and noise efficient than any other in today's market. It has received an overwhelming response from carriers across the world, with over 860 models already sold, and all the deliveries expected to done latest by 2019.
With the low-cost commercial flights all set to drastically change the way planes are designed world-wide, he hoped that passenger comfort would be not compromised upon, in search for more profits. India is expected to be a major game-changer, with more people flying each year, and the fast-expanding low-airfare industry coming into its own. He also pointed out that many companies like TCS, Wipro and HAL were involved with Boeing in consultation-based tie-ups, and that there was huge scope for creating more jobs in this field.
A brief interactive session followed the talk, and saw some pertinent points being brought up. On being asked about the scope in Aero-dynamics as a career, Dr.Keskar explained that it would continue to evolve as engineers always sought to arrive at the “perfect design”. Stream-lining – the topic of his doctoral thesis – would always attract maximum interest as almost every aspect of flight-design hovered (excuse the pun) around this. His word of advice to youngsters was, “Never take no for an answer, if you are passionate about something”, citing his own example. Initially refused a position in the Marketing Dept. in Boeing, he completed his MBA, while simultaneously working as a Senior Engineer in the same company. He was then transferred to India, where he has sold nearly $80 Billion worth planes! He signed off reminiscing about the years he spent working under Neill Armstrong, saying he remains one of only six people ever to have done a PhD under the great man. That has got to pop some eyeballs..........................