We were going into a government facility in Mumbai, and the guard points at me and asks, as if finding it hard to believe “He is a foreigner?” This was my fourth visit to India and, like all the others so far, mostly a rushed series of meetings and trips to airports, but I got to meet a lot of smart people, hear about some amazing projects, and even saw some northern Western Ghats as we drove from Puni to Mumbai – mountains are always good.
We started in Bangalore just as Diwali ended (flying in at night, the fireworks were awesome) for the Embed Asia conference at the beautiful campus of the Indian Institute of Science. Professor S.K. Sinha took me on a whirlwhind tour of the EE department where a mere 12 layer board is just part of a student project and the race for the sub-$100 laptop is on. If only they did projects like that at US computer science departments these days instead of specializing in advanced grant grubbing and similar topics. I also saw some great robotics projects in the Embedded Systems lab at IIT Mumbai where my one-time Ph.D. advisor, Prof. Krithivasan Ramaritham has now become a Dean. The embedded lab projects have to do with automatic cruise control. I want to see one of the auto-rickshaws driving through Mumbai on automatic control, but believe it would require major breakthroughs in computer science and quantum physics.
India reminds me of Lew Wallace’s famous exit line as he fled New Mexico back in the 1800s. Maybe it has something to do with chilis. (Photo is Ramesh and Ramana at Puni Reservoir)