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Professional Karthik Venkatapathy on the benefits of the Masters in Automotive Systems

Talking to Karthik Venkatapathy, it is clear almost instantly; this is something quite exceptional. A student who left his homeland of India to take the degree course best suited to his ambition, interest and plans for the future: the Masters in Automotive Systems. He sucked up the knowledge like a sponge and pushed himself that little bit further every single day. This resulted in successful academic progress and a job at HAN University of Applied Sciences’ Research Group (Hogeschool of Arnhem and Nijmegen) in Vehicle Mechatronics.

 How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and unique career?

In India, Karthik followed a four-year course in electrical engineering before working as a control technology engineer for three years. But his ambition was to take him further. He wanted to learn all he could about electric cars so that he could use this knowledge back in India. ‘I started looking for an English-taught Masters degree course in Automotive Systems. I also wanted to study in Europe rather than America because of the many different cultures and languages that can be found within a relatively small area.

Karthik also thought very carefully about which European country he wanted to study in. ‘My search on Google ended with Sweden, Germany, France, the UK and the Netherlands.’ He opted for the Netherlands thanks to its non-hierarchical approach. ‘There is an open culture here. People respect each other’s opinions; they listen to each other. You can discuss things and influence what happens.’ In the European melting pot, the Netherlands was one of the few countries in which he found little hierarchy.

Tell us about your experience at HAN ?

The HAN Masters in Automotive Systems allows you to choose between Vehicle Dynamics, Internal Combustion Engines and Alternative Powertrains. Karthik: ‘I studied all these disciplines, but was particularly interested in engines. So I did my final undergraduate assignment at Continental Automotive Group – previously Siemens – in Germany, focusing on combustion engines. I did research on a new injection system. The most recent development in the field of petrol engines is a type that is similar to that of a diesel engine, but which offers the ‘fun to drive’ aspect of petrol engines; it is the best of both worlds!’

A little about Karthik’s research?

Karthiks research evolves around a new injection system Continental wants to bring to the market. ‘The project is close to being industrialised now, it will be presented within a few years. Karthik was simulating and analysing the behaviour of the injection system. He provided us with detailed input and confirmed our decision. I was very happy with that. We needed his research results to finally confirm that we were on the right path with this new development. Most of the time we have projects for students in long term developments, but in this case Karthik helped us in a development project that was close to being industrialised. Very practical and valuable for us. And for him too.

What was your career path after graduation?

When Karthik started the course, he thought he wanted to make a career in the automotive industry. As time progressed, however, he discovered that he enjoyed doing research. He successfully completed various research projects during the course of his studies. Now, having graduated, a great deal of his work involves research at the Research Group for Vehicle Mechatronics. ‘I am currently focusing on ‘second life applications of lithium-ion batteries’ in order to discover whether these batteries are reusable for smart grid and rural electrification’. It is wonderful to be involved in the latest technology so that rural India, for example, can one day be provided with electricity.’

Your advice to students?

Karthik is not the only person from India who has followed HAN’s Masters in Automotive Systems. Karthik’s explanation is that ‘Many large automotive companies have opened recently in India. If you want to achieve a senior position there, it is important that you are well-grounded in the relevant knowledge. Doing a degree course widens your knowledge and experience, but also broadens your outlook on the international automotive industry. I keep in touch with fellow countrymen through social networks. Poverty in India is one of its biggest problems. Despite that poverty, however, I want to go back to where I came from one day so that I can apply my knowledge in helping fellow Indians find employment and improve their well-being.’

How has Netherlands been?

When he arrived on the campus two years ago, Karthik’s bed was already made, both literally and metaphorically. ‘The accommodation was lovely, with several IKEA kits ready for us to assemble. We couldn’t have asked for more. We weren’t used to this in India; nothing is organised there. Here in the Netherlands, people start complaining if something isn’t perfect. That is a huge cultural difference. But seriously, everything was perfectly organised.’