The technologies that propel the Electric Vehicles of the future are going to be driven by Power Electronics, which will play an important role in addressing challenges related to EV Propulsion, Battery Charging and Overall Power Management of Electric Vehicles.

Naveenkumar Marati (PhD), our next pathbreaker, Architect in the Electric Vehicle Practice in Wipro, works on product areas related to E-Powertrains, Converters, Inverters for Electric Vehicle Applications.

Naveen talks to Shyam Krishnamurthy from The Interview Portal about applying his PhD in Power Electronics and Control in the fascinating world of Research & Development on Automotives.

For students, the switch from gasoline driven vehicles to electric vehicles brings with it several challenges in the domain of Power Electronics. Make this your career opportunity !

Naveen, your background?

I am Dr. Naveenkumar Marati. I was born in a village from Jangaon district in Telangana, India. My father was a farmer and for our higher studies, we moved to Hyderabad. I completed my secondary education till my bachelor’s in Hyderabad. 

What did you do for graduation/post graduation?

I did my bachelor’s in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from CVR college of Engineering in an affiliated college under JNTU Hyderabad, Telangana. 

I did my Post Graduation (Master of Technology in Computational Engineering) from  Rajiv Gandhi University of Knowledge Technologies (IIIT -Nuzvid), Andhra Pradesh.

I received a fellowship during 2011-13 from the Government of Andhra Pradesh to pursue Master’s at Rajiv Gandhi University of Knowledge Technologies, Andhra Pradesh.

The scholarship criteria is based on GATE score and there is a separate entrance examination and interview process. After passing this level, there is a second level, which is a 30 day course on basics of C programming and MS Office. One who gets 80% in this course would be selected for the final scholarship and M.Tech admission.

I then went on to do Doctor of Philosophy in Electrical Engineering (Specialization in Power Electronics and Control) from Shiv Nadar University (Institute of Eminence) , Greater Noida, UP, India 

I also received a Fellowship during 2013 -2017 to pursue Doctor Philosophy at Shiv Nadar University, under Shiv Nadar Foundation with partial Tuition Fee and Hostel Fee waiver. Here the selection criteria is an entrance examination and interview process. The ones who pass these two levels are selected for the Doctoral program. 

What made you choose such an offbeat, unconventional and unique career?

The person who had the most impact on me which led to me choosing a research path is Padma Bhushan Awardee Prof. Raj Reddy from Carnegie Mellon University, who was my mentor during my Postgraduate studies. He made me pursue the path in research and I am fortunate to be a student or mentee of his.

I have been fortunate to have some amazing mentors in my career like Prof. Raj Reddy from CMU, USA. Another person who nurtured me is my PhD supervisor Prof. Dinkar Prasad, who shaped my career in Power Electronics and Control from the basics to a skilled level. I bow my head to both these professors who are an integral part of my journey. Other people who are part of this journey are Dr. Gyan Ranjan Biswal who is one of my mentor’s supporters in all the research activities along with Dr. Phaneendra Babu bobba. I would like to thank both of them.

I participated in many international conference(s) in the field of Power Electronics and Electrical Engineering, and published more than 15 papers in reputed Journals and conferences. I have also  given more than 25 Guest Talks at various forums focused on faculty development programme, student -industry interaction, workshops etc.

The major turning point in my career journey was when I qualified for the GATE exam and joined the Masters  programme in Computational Engineering at Rajiv Gandhi University of Knowledge Technologies where I learnt many things personally and professionally.

How did you plan the steps to get into the career you wanted? Tell us about your career path

Though I did not plan my career in a certain way, I always wanted to pursue higher education. I was always motivated by my parents and peers to pursue this. I would like to thank all those who supported my thought process from time to time

The computational engineering course is a sophisticatedly designed for research, and is a combination of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. I found the course very fascinating.

After completing this course, when I was looking for further research options, i decided to pursue an industry oriented PhD because my intention was to join the industry after PhD. So i decided to pursue a PhD in Power Electronics and Control.

During my PhD, I worked on repetitive control for PWM (Pulse Width Modulated) inverters under Non-linear load in UPS applications. 

This problem deals with controlling UPS loads when it is connected with an inverter.

While doing my PhD, I also worked part time at two Edutech organizations, since I was always passionate about sharing the knowledge I acquired with students.

My first job after PhD was at Cell Propulsion, which was a startup. I worked here on the design and development of Off-Board chargers for EV (Electric Vehicle) applications.

After working there for 6 months, I joined Valeo. During my tenure at Valeo India, I was deputed to perform some of the project activities in France. This experience enhanced my knowledge in EV applications, especially in Starter- Generators and DC-DC converters.

How did you get your first break?

It was through a startup during my doctoral studies. I got the break from a job search through one of the social networking sites.

What were some of the challenges you faced? How did you address them?

One challenge is to update oneself based on current market requirements which is very important. I try to overcome this challenge though it is not that easy.

Where do you work now? What problems do you solve?

Currently I am working in Wipro as Architect in their Electric Vehicle Practice in the Engineering, Research and Development Group

I am currently working in the Electric Vehicle department on product areas like E-Powertrains, Converters, Inverters for electric vehicle applications.

In EV (Electric Vehicles), there are different components where power electronics can be applied, for example, motor controller, on-board /off-board charger, inverter, power distribution unit etc. These are some of the components where power electronics is a must and there are various areas in which power electronics engineers can work, like Embedded Firmware, Software , Hardware Development, PCB Design, Validation etc.

What skills are needed for your role? How did you acquire the skills?

My work requires skills on both hardware and software. Though some of these skills were acquired during PhD, it also needs some industry exposure. Practical hands-on experience is needed to acquire these skills.

What’s a typical day like?

We work on some of the Project development lifecycles.

What is it you love about this job? 

My interest matches with my responsibilities, and that’s what I love about my job.

How does your work benefit society? 

Currently I am working on the new generation of Green technologies like EV. Major countries in the world are transitioning to Electric Vehicle or Hybrid Electric Vehicles, which will contribute to reducing global warming. 

Apart from these I am also actively involved in IEEE activities in my section and globally as well. I have been volunteering from the time I was Student Branch Chair to Section Secretary for Joint chapter. Currently I am a senior Member of IEEE, and R10 coordinator for IEEE PELS Day.

Tell us an example of a specific memorable work you did that is very close to you!

My days of Doctoral studies are very close to me and I have enjoyed my research during that tenure, thanks to Mr. Shiv Nadar and Shiv Nadar University.

Your advice to students based on your experience?

For students it may not be advice but a suggestion would be to try to acquire as much practical exposure as possible throughout your studies.

Future Plans?

Working towards the next step of life.