Chapter 7 upes update

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A Journey with Energy Specialist …

A Journey with Energy Specialist
“Architects of Future”

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  • 1. UPES | DR. PARAG DIWAN Architects of Future Energy SpecialistI t has been a while since Dehradun ceased to be a sleepy town of retired army officers. Other than a welcoming climate almost year round, there is something in the air between the Sivaliks and higher Himalayan foothills that attracts pioneering institutions. As you move down Chakrata Road, inhaling the ambientfreshness, you first find the imposing Indian MilitaryAcademy Next comes the equally impressive Forest Research .Institute. A turn later, where the land levels off a bit in thePondha Valley, occur the amazing Energy Acres. These 30 acres are home to the University of Petroleum andEnergy Studies or UPES. When a man of proven foresight Having seen the world andstarted it in 2003, it might not have been seen as an institution assessed what was needed,of necessity, but today it is an institution of emphatic choice. Dr. Parag Diwan started UPES out Dr. Parag Diwan’s eyes pan across his office as he says with a of a building configured into achuckle, “I started this project in a room as big as this.” What dozen classrooms.he modestly withholds is that by then he had already seen theworld and assessed what was needed. He was new neither to48 49
  • 2. UPES | DR. PARAG DIWAN The UPES campus in Dehradun’s Pondha Valley offer a complete solution to Energy and logically allied industries. The students here are combat ready by the time they are done. engineering, management, nor education. At a very young age of 30, Dr. Diwan joined the All India During his assignment in the US, Dr. Parag Diwan was Management Association(AIMA) in 1992 and remained there till involved with NASA as research associate for the development 2000. Working as Director in the Education Division of AIMA of Carbon Fibre based composites which were then being was the turning point and determine where and what he is today . developed for aerospace applications. While Dr. Diwan was “That is where I shifted to academic management,” he says. working with Semi-Conductors Ltd, he worked with teams of “AIMA was in pretty bad shape in terms of programmes and DRDO & ISRO led by Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam and was actively student enrolment then, and with the first phase of liberalisation involved in the development of micro-chips for missiles and having begun, it was a time when India was transforming.” various space applications. The beeline for MBA degrees was there for all to see. It was a50 51
  • 3. UPES | DR. PARAG DIWAN Architects of Futuredemand Dr. Diwan chose to address by providing satellite-enabled distance education. “We created the way forward forvirtual universities on the Internet,” he says. “We were wayahead of the times, yet the concept really took off, and thestudent base became nearly 10,000 in three to four years.” Things did not end there, because he had more to give. MATis an acronym used without apology in India today: it is wellknown that it stands for Management Aptitude Test and is vitalfor entry to a management institute. What is not so well knownis that it was created during Dr. Diwan’s tenure in AIMA. “Weconceived, planned and launched it, and now it has become oneof the national tests,” he says. “That is greatly satisfying.” He floated high in the dot.com bubble briefly—his was anHR portal with Swiss investors—but the bubble burst andDr. Diwan and a few old friends got thinking of starting aninstitute of learning in the domain of energy . “We went on abenchmarking tour of three There is something in thecontinents, seven countries, Dehradun air that attractsand 22 institutions of pioneering institutions: theworldwide repute in energy oil , Energy Acres in Pondha Valley,and gas,” he reminisces. “We home to Asia’s first Universityput together a detailed project for the Energy domain,report and did a market survey . is the latest.All that took us to almost 2002.” They approached variousstate governments—includingTamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra—but the firstenthusiastic response to the idea of a University dedicated tothe energy sector came from Uttarakhand. “As luck would have it, Narayan Dutt Tiwari was the chiefminister of Uttarakhand and he was into his final innings,”Dr. Diwan recalls. “He wanted to leave some indelible imprinton Uttarakhand. Coincidentally he was petroleum minister in ,Indira Gandhi’s cabinet, so he was understandably fascinatedwith our idea and also with the idea of Uttarakhand andDehradun hosting a first-ever.” Uttarakhand might not have any oil, but Dehradun has beenknown as Oil Town, mainly because the twin presence of the52 53
  • 4. UPES | DR. PARAG DIWAN Architects of FutureOil and Natural Gas Commission and the Indian Institute of professional body representing 13,500 individuals and 300Petroleum. They helped. “In the initial days, we used some of companies across 100 countries, UPES has emerged as a world-their laboratories,” he says of the year 2003 and a bit thereafter. class institution, dedicated to developing super-specialised, “We started with only 250 students, 15 faculty members, all ready-to-deploy managers and engineers. Simultaneously, itin a large rented bungalow where we had created six remains committed to providing training, research, andclassrooms,” he says. “We now have a beautiful 30-acre campus, consultancy or outreach services in energy and allied areas.with over 600,000 square feet of built-up space—a very modern While doing all this, it is not averse to encouraging privatecampus, developed on North American lines.” enterprise. Dr. Diwan takes us back to the early days of UPES— Within a decade of inception, Asia’s first such University when “carbon credits” and “carbon trading” were buzzwords—has become a trusted ground for students and companies alike. to cite the instance of a third-year student whoseNationally accredited and approved by the University Grants entrepreneurial dreams UPES encouraged. Today, his firmCommission, it offers over 50 graduate, postgraduate and employs 100 UPES graduates. “He was given the Hottestdoctoral programmes to more than 5,000 students in the high Entrepreneur Award by Businessworld in 2011,” Dr. Diwangrowth sectors of oil and gas, power, aviation, shipping, says. “That has been of great personal joy .”automobile, infrastructure, electronics, information UPES itself has been the recipient of many awards. In 2008, ittechnology, and logistics and supply . was adjudged the Best Provider of Energy Sector Training and Add too these programmes the ones in business Education by the London-based Getenergy ahead of Canadian ,administration and law, and UPES becomes a lot more than and British contenders. Late in 2012,what its nomenclature suggests. Nonetheless, its growth has Former NASA scientist Dr. it was voted the Best Petroleumbeen quite as organic as oil and gas. “We started with the oil Parag Diwan is not merely in University by Fleming Publications,and gas sector, built it to the larger sector of power, and built it sync with the present, he is in which has traditionally reserved thefurther to the sector using oil and power, which is touch with the future. recognition for US educationtransportation,” Dr. Diwan says of its logical progression. providers. “This feels good,” “From Oil & Gas and Petroleum Engineering, we moved on he says.to Automotive Design Engineering and Aerospace What are some the new areasEngineering,” he illustrates. “Similarly, in business that UPES is looking at? “India might be having many reactorsadministration, we moved on to MBA in Oil & Gas coming up soon, so we are looking at an M.Tech programme inManagement, Power Management and Aviation Management. nuclear science and technology,” Dr. Diwan says. “We are alsoSo, we have ended up with a very interesting mix. Though looking at an M. Tech programme in disaster management—domain-specific, it is almost a full-service University .” there is no professional talent in disaster management.” Recently, UPES started talks with IBM to launch a super- It is not content alone that concerns Dr. Diwan. He isspecialised B.Tech programme. “We are thinking of areas like sensitive to form as well and knows what the Internet era isCloud Computing, Open Source, Virtual Standards, and things asking of us. “This is the generation of Google graduates andlike that,” he says while pointing out that the accent is on Wikipedia professors,” he says with a laugh. But there is nospecialisation. “Even our law degrees are specialised—for cynicism behind his laughter. One can rest assured that he willinstance, Energy Law or Corporate Law. We have a very trim his sails whenever needed.interesting B.Tech Law programme that addresses technology There was a time when his mission was to keep a vitaland patents.” generation energised. Now it might be to keep an energised Accredited by the Energy Institute, UK, a leading generation vital.54 55