As someone who has been associated with research, it comes as no surprise when Gopichand Katragada, chairman and managinf director, General Electrics (GE) India Technology Centre, popularly known as John F Welch Technology Centre (JFWTC), Bangalore says, “Graduate programmes need to be better connected with industry needs in addition to driving fundamental science research in an aggressive manner.”
JFWTC is GE’s largest integrated multi-disciplinary research and development centre. With over 4,000 scientists, research is being conducted in energy, transportation, aviation, healthcare, consumer and industrial businesses. It also houses a GE Global Research Centre, a diversified industrial research organisation, providing innovative technology for all of GE’s businesses. The 50-acre site housing one lakh square metres of labs and offices represents almost $220 million in investments. Teams at the centre are not only working on innovations that provide solutions, but also develop technologies for future. “The work done by scientists and engineers here has resulted in over 2,000 patents filed by the parent GE company,” he adds.
Explaining the activities of the centre, he says, “The focus of the centre started off with simulation-based experimentation to drive new product introductions in market. As we have evolved and matured, we have added experimental capabilities to test our ideas and provide faster introduction of products in the market.”
The centre also created GE Edison Challenge in 2008 to motivate students and nurture their innovative ideas. On the competition, he says, “We aim to find best scientific and engineering talent in the country. It epitomises imaginative thinking, analytical and technical skills, in-depth business knowledge and an ability to be hands-on with the solution.” This year’s Edison Challenge saw students develop a solution for the healthcare industry. The final was held in Bangalore between IIT-BHU, Varanasi, and IIT-Kharagpur on December 12. The winning team IIT-Kharagpur received an incubation prize of `10 lakh and the runner-up team IIT-Kharagpur received an incubation prize of `5 lakh. Details at www.ge.com.