Born and brought up in New Delhi, India, my basic schooling was done in the same city. By the end of schooling, probably due to the positive influence of my father, who himself is an excellent Civil Engineer, I decided to pursue Civil Engineering and in 1997, joined the Bachelors in Engineering (Civil) course at National Institute of Technology Silchar, then known as Regional Engineering College (REC) Silchar, Assam, India. It was here that I met my wife Swati who was pursuing Engineering in Electronics and Telecommunication at the same time.
Education and early career
In engineering, I picked up interest in subjects on Structural Engineering, in particular, Reinforced concrete structures and Structural analysis. Having earned my degree in 2001, I decided to gain some practical knowledge and joined a small construction firm in Gurgaon as in charge of constructing an extension of an existing factory building. The six months spent there were quite a learning experience.
The learning bug bit me again and I decided to pursue Masters. To do that, I had to appear for the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (commonly known as GATE), conducted every year at the national level. So, I quit my job and appeared for GATE. Having cleared that, I secured a seat at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi in Master of Technology Course (M. Tech.) in Structural Engineering. Further, based on the GATE score and an interview, I could secure a fellowship in Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) Mumbai under the auspices of the DAE graduate fellowship scheme (DGFS) that was offered for the first time in 2002. This highly prestigious fellowship provided me with relatively higher stipend money during my studies and a guarantee to be later appointed as the scientific officer in Reactor Safety Division at BARC.
During the masters, I worked on my thesis on “Nonlinear analysis of structures subjected to seismic excitation”, which was my first introduction to the nonlinear static pushover analysis of RC structures. Later, this topic became one of my strongest areas of research.
Upon completion of my M. Tech. from IIT Delhi, I got married, moved to Mumbai with my wife and joined BARC as scientific officer on September 1, 2004. After a short orientation course, I joined the Reactor Safety Division of BARC and started working on the aspects of structural safety against seismic hazards.
Further research and education
At BARC, my first projects included research on seismic behavior of beam-column joints and seismic re-qualification and retrofitting of existing structures. Additionally, I started working on the requirements of the pushover test on a full-scale structure, e.g. design of foundation and rock anchors, instrumentation, reinforcement detailing, loading arrangement, construction inspection etc. This test was the first of its kind to be carried out in India and the project was very exciting since any mistake could lead to the failure of the test and in turn loss of large amount of money and time invested in the planning of the test. The test was conducted on May 2, 2008 at CPRI Bangalore, as a national level round robin exercise in which various professors, scientists and engineers from India’s leading institutes participated. The test went very well and it now serves as a benchmark to validate the modeling procedures followed to carry out pushover analysis.
My initial years at BARC were mainly focused on
- Experimental work in the fields of seismic behavior and strengthening of beam-column joints with FRP, pushover tests as well as dynamic shake table tests on RC structures
- Development of spring models and analysis procedure for nonlinear analysis of RC structures
- Seismic re-qualification of the existing structures.
In March 2007, I got the opportunity to organize “Indo-German Workshop and theme meeting” at BARC where several professors from different German Universities and IITs participated. There, the researchers from the Institute of construction materials (IWB), University of Stuttgart showed great interest in my research work and discussed the possibility of starting a co-operation.
The co-operation was officially materialized and in the following years, I performed several tests on beam-column joints and anchorages shuttling between the two nations. Meanwhile, I also started working on my PhD with Prof. Eligehausen. Although I could not use most of the tests conducted under the auspices of Indo-German cooperation for my PhD thesis but the tests and experience helped me develop several analytical models within the framework of my PhD thesis.
Apart from working on the Indo-German co-operation, at BARC, I was also involved in various other projects such as
- Design of new upcoming buildings,
- Repair, strengthening and re-testing of the full-scale structure under pushover loads
- Development of a new structural testing laboratory,
- Conducting shake table tests on structures at CPRI Bangalore and SERC Chennai,
- Conducting non-destructive tests on existing structures,
- Developing new research projects,
- Working in various committees and task groups
- Collaborating with various educational institutions on projects sponsored by Board of Research in Nuclear Sciences (BRNS),
- Teaching at the Homi Bhabha National Institute (HBNI),
- Guiding Masters students studying at HBNI,
- Interviewing the potential candidates applying for the position of scientific officers, and much more.
I thoroughly enjoyed my work at BARC, and that institute has had the biggest influence in shaping up my career and providing me with the opportunities that may have been otherwise difficult to get.
On the other hand, apart from working on my PhD, I used the time spent at IWB to venture into new areas of research including structural performance under extreme loads of impact and fire. This work was primarily done with Prof. Ožbolt and his team and it led to co-publication of several research papers.
Moving to Germany
Towards the end of my PhD, Prof. Eligehausen asked me to join as a full-time researcher at IWB. It meant uprooting the family from a known and settled life to something else. Swati and I decided to take the plunge and let fate have its course. And so, in May 2013, with high hopes and slight trepidation, I Myself, Swati and our daughter Suteeksha moved to Germany.
After immigrating, I first had to defend my PhD and then started off as senior research engineer at IWB. In addition to continuing my research on performance of structures under seismic loads, fire loads and impact loads as well as strengthening of structures, I started working in the field of connections between steel and concrete. The biggest difference in working at the University in Germany and my previous research institute in India was the requirement to generate the funds required for research. While in BARC, funds for research were readily available but at IWB, funds had to be generated by applying to national funding agencies (e.g. DFG) or to the industry. Fortunately, I was able to generate the research funding from both the sources. During this time, I also joined two committees of International federation of structural concrete (fib) on Fastenings and Bond models.
The term “Junior Professor” is specifically applicably only to the Universities of German speaking countries and hence is a lesser known term. In simplest terms, Junior Professor refers to a Professor with a limited contract, which may or may not be tenure track (conversion to full professorship by the end of the tenure).
I learnt about the opening for Junior Professor at IWB, which would be sponsored for six years by the company fischer, a world leader in anchor technology. The rules of the university dictated that an applicant to this post should bring in some outside experience and I completed my PhD from the University of Stuttgart and was also working at IWB, generally that would make me ineligible. However, my experience at BARC fulfilled the requirement of outside experience and now I am working as Junior Professor at IWB, University of Stuttgart since January 1, 2017.
As Junior Professor, I could open a satellite department on “Innovative strengthening methods using fastenings” within the “Department of fastening and strengthening” at IWB. I am also currently leading my own research group and extending the scope of research with a primary focus on enhancing the performance of RC structures against natural and man-made hazards. Several projects currently running include:
- Development of spring modeling approach for anchorages
- Bond splitting performance of post-installed rebar connections
- Development of bond-splitting model for rebar after exposure to fire – A DFG funded Project (Collaboration: Dr. Bosnjak, MPA Stuttgart)
- Seismic performance of structural components with post-installed rebar
- Anchorages in special concrete
- Seismic strengthening with steel bracing and post-installed anchors
- Assessment and strengthening of beam-column joints with innovative methods
- Anchorages with supplementary reinforcement
- Strengthening of RC structural elements subjected to different load combinations using FRP (Collaboration: Prof. S. Prakash, IIT Hyderabad)
- Bond in normal and fiber reinforced concrete under elevated temperature (Collaboration: Dr. Bosnjak, MPA Stuttgart)
In addition to the running projects, I am also working on preliminary investigations on different topics that could potentially develop into full-fledged projects in near future:
- Design provisions for circular anchorages
- Anchorages under impact loads
- Anchorages under fire
- RC structural elements under fire
- Performance assessment of RC structures affected by corrosion
- Strengthening of RC structures affected by corrosion
- Performance of fiber reinforced concrete under elevated temperature
- Performance of masonry under elevated temperature
- Monitoring and assessment of structures
In the future, I plan to continue working on these topics with the overall objective of developing new materials, assessment methods, analytical models and strengthening solutions to make the RC structures safer against hazards.