Dr. Sajal K. Das was at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham's Coimbatore campus last month to speak about the importance of effective interdisciplinary collaboration and pervasive computing.
As Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Engineering and Founding Director of the Center for Research in Wireless Mobility and Networking at the University of Texas at Arlington, USA, Dr. Sajal had much to share from his experience as educator, researcher and scientist.
He opened his discussion with an analysis of education and research. “They are two sides of the same coin,” he noted. “What is being taught today, leads to research. What is research today will be in textbooks tomorrow.”
Using Amrita’s mission statement as an example of what complete education should consist of, he said that wholesome learning and selfless service to society were important in addition to the microcosmic and macrocosmic elements of education.
“Education on a secular level is both microcosmic and macrocosmic,” he said. “The former leads to individual emancipation of a human being from ignorance and the latter sees the translation of education into the improvement of society.”
To set the stage for discussing several interdisciplinary projects, the professor proposed an overarching framework of pervasive computing and communications to address such global challenges as security, healthcare, energy, sustainability and disaster management.
Examining the role of pervasive computing in energy and sustainability, he said, “By monitoring energy, water and utility usage, and providing feedback to others and the environment, citizens can change their behavior and use technology and social networks to influence others.”
Talking about smart environments, where a cycle of sensing, reasoning and decision control is in place that allows analysis of the situation, he noted, “Information about the physical world is captured and transferred to the cyber world and processed, after which an intelligent decision is made and feedback is given to the environment.”
Dr. Sajal said that effective interdisciplinary collaboration is not spontaneous, but like any relationship, must be nurtured, improved and maintained to succeed.
“Its benefits include complementary knowledge and skills, intellectual stimulation and motivation between colleagues and potential transformative innovations,” he emphasized. “But interdisciplinary collaboration can be a big challenge also because it involves many professionals from different disciplines who speak different languages.”
Advising professionals to engage in cross-disciplinary team-driven research projects, Dr. Sajal concluded his presentation.
“Dr. Sajal holds a very key role in pushing the frontiers of research in networking and pervasive computing,” stated Dr. P. Venkat Rangan, Vice Chancellor of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham.
“His presentation was very interesting. There seems to be much alignment between what he is proposing and what we seek,” he added.
April 8, 2011
School of Engineering, Coimbatore