First-Person Report: Dr. phil. Ravindra V. Jategaonkar
Dr. phil. Ravindra V. Jategaonkar is Senior scientist at the German Aerospace Centre (DLR).
You have been in Germany for many years now. How did you find your way to Germany?I had already graduated from university and was working as a scientist in India before coming to Germany for the first time. This meant that I arrived here as an adult, and as a consequence, the greater part of my personal development was strongly influenced by my Indian background. I had previously worked for the National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) in Bangalore, and in the field in which I was working, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) Braunschweig is very well known. I applied for a DAAD fellowship, which was subsequently awarded in 1981. My time in Germany began with a four-month language course in Schwäbisch Hall, run by the Goethe Institute. After 18 months of scientific and technical work in aeronautics at the DLR in Braunschweig, I returned to India because I had a signed contract with the Indian government to serve three years with the parent organisation. However, the director of the DLR in Braunschweig requested me to return, so, on his invitation, I returned in 1986 and have been here ever since.
How do you like living here?There are two aspects I would like to mention. The first is a professional one. Research culture in Germany is unique. Here I was provided with all the opportunities I needed. It was then up to me to make the best of them, and, I must say, if you now consider my career, that I may honestly say that I have succeeded in making the best of those opportunities. I have now been working here for more than two decades. I certainly have no regrets about having come here. The second aspect is of a socio-cultural nature, which is much more complex and somewhat difficult to discuss in depth on this occasion. Although Germany has become my second home, I have often missed my extended family over the years. That is an aspect of Indian culture. In general, I would say that, on average, I like it here. Everyday life is a little more organised and somewhat easier, and good health care facilities are available here too. Of course, there are some minor inconveniences resulting from my personal background, for example, being a vegetarian I do sometimes find it hard to manage, particularly when travelling. The weather is often too cold and sometimes rather depressing in winter.
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What does "Research in Germany" mean for you?I find that Germany offers excellent opportunities for personal and scientific development. People here appreciate what others are doing. People are also more conscious of the time factor. For my work, I need the support from colleagues in both my institute and other departments. I feel that "Teamgeist" - teamspirit - is a highly respected value in Germany.
What do you think is the best idea ever to come out of Germany?Otto Lilienthal's first manned glider flight in 1891. A lot of pioneering work in the field of aeronautics has come from Germany, particularly from Göttingen and Braunschweig, where I now live and work. For example, wind tunnel testing and research into swept wing aerodynamics in the early 1930s and 1940s, wing configurations that have more or less become standards today. And many other fundamentals of modern aeronautics too.
What are you currently working on?I'm currently working on mathematical modelling of aerodynamics from experimental flight data. In short, this means characterisation of aircraft behaviour as a consequence of pilot actions. This has been my specialised field for the past 20 years and, in the meantime, I have modelled data for a wide range of aircraft types - from helicopters to passenger aircraft and military transports. Working for one of the world's leading institutes, I am happy to be able to contribute my part in this way. In collaboration with the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) I recently published a book on my life's work in this field.
» :: April 2008