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Pravega 2014: Inform, Illuminate and inspire the Lecture Series

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Pravega 2014: Lecture series

Pravega Fever has reached a crescendo just after its first day. The usually tranquil IISc environment is buzzing with excitement as the event turns one day old. The Lecture series organised by the managing committee and the BOSCH Foundation attracted a lot of attention with many people from both IISc and outside arriving to witness the discussions. The inaugural lecture was by Dr. Swami Manoha, erstwhile IISc CSA faculty and an academic entrepreneur, at IISc's Satish Dhawan Auditorium from 11 a.m. to noon. Dr. Manohar is a living example of how science and technology are not necessarily aloof from basic human needs and comfort. He started off as an academician with a Doctoral degree from a premiere US university and as a faculty at SERC, IISc.

Soon he turned into an entrepreneur by starting off his own company and coming up with a novel hand-held computer, the first of its kind, way back in 2001. Aptly he named it Simputer, a simple innovative multilingual people's computer. Now again back to his academic avatar, Dr. Manohar has started his new venture named JED-i, aptly so for the Star Wars fan in him, an organisation that ventures to spread the importance of innovation among young Engineering undergraduates. Dr. Manohar spoke at length about the importance of depth in engineering knowledge to come up with sustainable and innovative designs to meet human needs.

The following lecture, convened at the J.N. Tata Auditorium at 3 pm, was by Dr. Mylswamy Annadurai, the present Programme Director of ISRO's Small Satellites Programme, which includes many satellites such as the Mars Orbiter and Chandrayaan-II and which previously, conducted the highly successful Chandrayaan-I mission. Dr. Annadurai's talk was entitled "Indian Achievements in Space Science and Technology", a treatise on exploring the frontiers of science.

His lecture radiated a deep sense of pride for our nation, which was evident from the way he started his lecture by quoting Vikram Sarabhai: "We must be second to none."True to the ever-optimist scientist and engineer in him, Dr. Annadurai, in his lecture, while discussing about the technical hindrances in the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), never referred to them as difficulties but rather as opportunities to attain technical perfection on a sustainable budget. He spoke at length about how ISRO learnt its lessons from the Mars Missions of yesteryear and analyzed the reasons for their failures and how several parallel teams were working independently yet with a certain sense of coordination to solve these problems. Apart from discussing several technical details of the Mars Orbiter Mission, he also talked about the scientific knowledge that India expects to gain from this mission, namely about the Martian environment, the soil and the like. Albeit the mission is far from being over, we were informed that the MOM is healthy now and about halfway through its journey toward the Red Planet!

As the audience settled into ‘lecture mode', Dr. Vijay Chandru, the founder and chairman of Strand Life Sciences and a former faculty at IISc, delivered his talk on Virtual Humans and challenges in biology. His research primarily centres on the conversion of biology from a phenomenological science to a predictive science through attempts at facilitating breakthrough in medicine using mathematical simulations. The challenges in modelling a living organism are vast and numerous, primarily because of the complexity associated with every living creature.

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