Defence research agency woos graduates to design drones

June 6th, 2009 - 7:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, June 6 (IANS) In a bid to lure graduate engineers for a bright career in aerospace technologies, the state-run remier Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has selected 10 college teams from across the country to demonstrate low-cost unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) they have designed and developed for reconnaissance.
“The teams will demonstrate their technology prowess with the low-cost UAVs they have built at our test range in Kolar (about 100 km from here) Tuesday. The top two teams will be selected on the performance of their surveillance systems,” DRDO chief controller for research and development (R&D) Prahlada told reporters here Saturday.

A UAV is a remotely piloted aircraft. They are either controlled from a remote location or flown on pre-programmed flight planes using dynamic automation systems. UAVs perform reconnaissance as well as attack missions. They are also used in a small but growing number of civil applications, such as firefighting.

The top two teams will be awarded cash prizes of Rs.300,000 and Rs.200,000, in this first-of-its-kind initiative by the defence research agency to motivate engineering graduates in designing systems and products for the Indian armed forces.

“The demo involves flying the pilotless aircraft at a height of 50-100 feet and up to a distance of 100 metres to capture a man-sized object and relaying it to a ground system,” Prahlada said.

The nationwide competition, being held as part of the defence research agency’s golden jubilee year, attracted 270 colleges from the across the country.

None of the engineering colleges from Bangalore, touted as the aerospace hub of India, qualified for the final selections.

Among the 10 college teams qualified for the flight demo are Amity School of Engineering & Technology, Noida; Delhi College of Engineering, New Delhi; Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Chennai; National Institute of Technology (NIT), Surathkal in Mangalore and Silchar in Assam, Thapar University, Patiala and Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute, Mumbai.

“The global meltdown and slackening demand in the knowledge or IT sector has turned out to be a blessing in disguise for us, as more and more engineers are opting for a career in defence research projects spanning aerospace technologies such as avionics, navigation, radars, armaments, missiles and UAVs,” Prahlada said.

With prospects of tapping bright engineering talent improving, the Bangalore-based DRDO has been able to attract about 1,000 graduates last year for a promising career in defence R&D projects. About 20 B.Tech grads from the IITs have joined us last year.

“We have not only been able to attract bright talent, but also retain them. Our attrition level has dropped to zero from a high of 18 percent in 2007-08. About 50 lateral engineers, who left the organisation in the recent past, have applied to rejoin.

“We have also received applications from about 100 non-resident Indian (NRI) engineers and scientists from abroad for suitable postings in commensurate with their M.Sc. and Ph.D. qualifications,” Prahlada pointed out.

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