News 2020

Tribute to Dr. Hari Bindal

Chapter: ASEI National

ASEI grieves the demise of its Founder Dr. Hari Bindal, who passed away on Sunday, November 8th, 2020. Dr. Bindal took leadership in starting ASEI in 1983. Dr. Bindal along with other founding members laid a solid foundation for ASEI. Dr. Bindal was instrumental in setting the vision and mission for ASEI. As a result, ASEI is one of the oldest and largest organizations in the USA that focuses on providing a strong forum to the technical community of Indian origin.  Dr. Bindal dedicated his personal time for many years to ensure ASEI is a valuable resource for all. He supported ASEI financially by sponsoring many initiatives such as conventions, student scholarships, and service awards. Compassion and drive to help those in need had been the center of Dr. Bindal’s actions throughout his unwavering support for ASEI.
Dr. Bindal was a recipient of numerous local, national, and international awards including the 'Pravasi Bharatiya Samman' Award 2017, from the President of India and 'Pravasi UP Ratna' Award 2019, from the Governor of Uttar Pradesh. Other than ASEI, Dr. Bindal had served numerous Indian American social, cultural, political, and religious organizations in various capacities. His passion and dedication to selfless community service were appreciated and recognized by people in India and in the USA. ASEI was very fortunate to have Dr. Bindal as a mentor, guide, and visionary.  He successfully demonstrated that while staying away from India, it is still possible to support India and the Indian origin of people through organizations such as ASEI.
Saying that we at ASEI will miss Dr. Bindal is an understatement. Our sincere condolences to Dr. Bindal’s family as we keep Dr. Bindal in our thoughts and prayers.
Jwalant Lakhia
Jwalant Lakhia (
President, American Society of Engineers of Indian Origin (ASEI)

The National Board of ASEI needs to conduct its 2021 election..

Chapter: ASEI National

Leadership   Passion  Experience   Professional Skills   Time

Dear ASEI Members,
The National Board of ASEI needs to conduct its 2021 election to fill the Board of Directors' open positions. Hence, the purpose of this communication is to request nominations from the membership or the ASEI National Board of Directors. There are five open positions that will be filled through this nomination process.

You can self-nominate or nominate someone else for the ASEI National Board position. If nominating someone else, please get concurrence from your nominee before submitting the nomination.

To be eligible to become a board member, the person must be an ASEI paid member in good standing for one year, actively participated in ASEI activities, and must have exhibited leadership qualities from experiences that would add significant value to the board. The nominee must be ready and willing to participate in all (or almost all) board meetings and contribute by participating in ASEI activities including membership of various committees of ASEI.

Please copy-paste the following link to submit your nomination. The deadline to submit nominations is November 30th, 2020.
Sincerely,Bhavesh JoshiVice President, ASEI National BoardChairman, 2020 ASEI National Board Election Committee
Election Committee: Bhavesh Joshi, Ananth Sarkar and Suresh Ladva

Reinvigorating NASA’s lunar exploration plans after the pandemic

Chapter: ASEI National

by Ajay P. Kothari - Monday, May 11, 2020
In a recent Washington Post op-ed, Josh Rogin argued for the need for a strong American response to China’s perceived mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic: “Americans in both parties increasingly agree that the United States needs a tougher, more realistic China strategy that depends less on the honesty and goodwill of the Chinese government.” Such a strategy should include space, too.
The response to the coronavirus will have long-term impacts on NASA. With trillions of dollars spent so far, budget cuts for all agencies can be expected in the next fiscal year and beyond. NASA will be among the agencies affected more adversely than others, given they are not considered to be essential. Democratic lawmakers, but also many Republican ones, will oppose any increase sought for the agency. The Moon has, in this since, moved further away. How do we fix this problem?
Antagonism towards China by the public, and hence lawmakers, combined with the threat of budget cuts, points to a potential and necessary path. For NASA, it may likely not be budget cuts, but almost surely any budget increase will face the axe.
China’s activities in space are not just for economic or military superiority, though they may be a side effect, with even higher probability of that now. They are also doing it for civilizational pride, which morphs into national pride. It is very strong. The motivating factors in the near future will not be just financial. China’s pride has been hurt by the pandemic, so they will do the things to rejuvenate it. The Chinese feel that they were an exceptional civilization for a long time. They want that again and understandably so. It is nationalism, not communism. They need a face-saving mechanism badly and space is one of them. Space exploration for China, and other old civilizations like India, beckons of otherworldly qualities. It overlaps with science and the spirit of exploring. We need to understand that, and not try to reduce everything to economic numbers.
Despite these recent horrendous stumbles, they will have humans on the Moon in as little as five to seven years. And it will not be for any other reason than to start to “win” in space. They may well be the first to extract water from the Moon. It is not a space race as a military competition this time around, but will devolve into an egoistic and economic one—a “space race” nonetheless.
This is why going to the lunar surface, not the lunar Gateway, is very important for the United States. This time, of course, it’s not just to visit, or even just to stay. That is not enough. It is to do things there, and those high priority things to do are on the surface, not in orbit.
This also implies we not only will need to be there in large numbers but also quickly, in order to compete or to reach a favorable distribution. Those at the table write the rules. All of the above means we need a solution that can take thousands of tons, not hundreds, of infrastructure and other materials to the lunar surface.
NASA is doing the right thing by exploring options for the Human Landing Systems through contracts announced recently. While doing that, though, we need to also find ways to efficiently send needed infrastructure to the surface first, in some format that does not rely on the lunar Gateway to get the task done. It needs to be done over next few years, with the habitats and other infrastructure, including for in-situ resource utilization, awaiting the astronauts’ arrival.
This problem cannot be solved by just the Space Launch System. It is five to eight times more costly than the approaches I’ve discussed here previously (see “A giant leap for America”, The Space Review, November 20, 2017; and “How to make an urgent and affordable return to the Moon”, The Space Review, October 14, 2019), and is expected to have much less frequent launch capability. We will need five to ten launches a year of this type to take the requisite infrastructure and material to the lunar surface. Going to Mars using this method is also faster, and it can be done in four years. And later, using in-situ water ice from the lunar surface with gravity assist would be an attractive choice as well. The SLS program needs to be readdressed to design and produce the upper stages for different destinations using different (possibly methane and hydrogen) fuels and different payload sizes, along with other exploration concepts and hardware.
Just letting the space companies take over will also miss one important mark. For the public to feel the pride, as they did during Apollo, they have to feel that they did it, that we did it, that NASA largely did it. NASA needs to devise ways where businesses participate, but where the public feels proud and not just the owners of those companies.
While continuing science, NASA should do those things now that speak towards this potential competition with China in the human exploration arena. It may be or surely will be a space race, a competition for lunar resources, including water ice, that we do not wish China to get a controlling interest in. Lawmakers will be in mood to listen to that, rather than spend billions for relatively more cosmetic endeavors like the lunar Gateway. If we concentrate on the lunar Gateway, we will miss the bus and then it will be too late: another easy win for China. We cannot allow that.
NASA should postpone the lunar Gateway for now, concentrate fully on getting to the lunar surface anyway we can—not that it has to be SLS or bust, especially now that its first launch has again slipped to mid to late 2021. We can get to the surface using reusable boosters like Falcon Heavy, New Glenn, or Starship, at a fifth the cost of SLS, as well as be quicker and scalable. It will require some modifications, some prodding, and some out-of-the-box thinking that I am sure NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate can do under the new leadership it has now. Congress will like it too—surely with grumblings from some, although others will secretly and not-so-secretly applaud it. I believe the Trump Administration will also be quite welcoming of it. The paradigm has shifted greatly in last few months. We can wait for several months to make these changes, but we absolutely cannot afford to wait for years.
NASA’s Plan for Sustained Lunar Exploration and Development released on April 3 is very well thought out, but I am afraid the lunar Gateway reliance would be hindering. It needs to be flipped, with trying to concentrate on it after five years instead of before. That we need to beat China and stay several steps ahead is now a much more convincing argument to Congress, and correctly so. NASA should utilize this mindset while the iron is hot. Asking Congress for billions for the Gateway is just not going to fly. Using the unnecessarily costlier SLS will also not be favorably rewarded. But competing strongly with China will be. Upsetting Boeing and Lockheed Martin is minor compared to the whole country being upset by China as has happened now, and may again in future.
Dr. Ajay Kothari is founder/president of Astrox Corporation. His MS and PhD in Aerospace Engineering are from the University of Maryland.

Health Alert - U.S. Mission to India

Chapter: ASEI National

Health Alert - U.S. Mission to IndiaLocation:  India
Event:  We advise U.S. persons interested in returning to the United States that Air India has announced additional commercially operated evacuation flights departing from India to international destinations, including the United States, to evacuate stranded Indian citizens.  U.S. persons are eligible to travel on these flights.  We understand from an update Air India posted recently on social media that the flights to the United States will depart on June 5 and 6.  Tickets for the flights will be available for purchase on the Air India website the morning of Saturday, May 30.  Interested travelers should contact Air India directly regarding these flights, not the U.S. Embassy or consulates.  
There are no further U.S. government charter flights scheduled or planned to evacuate U.S. persons from India at this time.  We urge U.S. persons wishing to return to the United States to strongly consider available commercial flight options.
Actions to Take:

Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
Consult the CDC website for the most up-to-date information on COVID-19.
Visit our Embassy webpage on COVID-19 for information on conditions in India.
Visit the Department of Homeland Security's website for the latest travel restrictions affecting travel to the United States.
Review the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare website for information on COVID-19 and Indian travel advisories.

·         U.S. Embassy New Delhi
Shanti Path, Chanakyapuri 110021
telephone: +91-11-2419-8000
·     U.S. Consulate General Mumbai (Bombay)
C-49, G-Block, Bandra Kurla Complex, Bandra East, Mumbai 400051
telephone: +91-22-2672-4000
·     U.S. Consulate General Chennai (Madras)
220 Anna Salai, Gemini Circle, 600006
telephone: +91-44-2857-4000
·     U.S. Consulate General Kolkata (Calcutta)
5/1 Ho Chi Minh Sarani, 700071
telephone: +91-33-3984-2400.
·     U.S. Consulate General Hyderabad
Paigah Palace, 1-8-323, Chiran Fort Lane, Begumpet, Secunderabad 500003
telephone: +91-40-4033-8300.
·     State Department – Consular Affairs
888-407-4747 or 202-501-4444
·     India Travel Advisory and Country Page
·     Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to receive security updates
·     Follow us on Facebook and Twitter


Chapter: ASEI National

With the rise of Artificial Intelligence in recent years, disrupting almost every industry it touches is inevitable. Rise of “new collar" jobs requiring skills and not degrees'' has been evident since the past couple of years. Leaders who are in tune with social trends know very well that we need to prepare citizens and youth for job descriptions that have not yet been defined. Means of doing everything better is continually being explored and with traditional jobs being threatened, the “future of work” has been a common theme of discussions in corporate circles. Over the past few years there was already a debate about the efficacy of our K-12 and college education system and how “flipping the classroom” would challenge the traditional expensive college education system.
And then COVID-19 struck the world. Major economies and life itself seemed to come to a standstill. However, thanks to the internet and advancement in Education Technologies, while maintaining social distancing, students were able to stay at home and get connected to their schools and teachers virtually. Work from Home (WFH) became the norm rather than a desirable perk. In such a transformed word, acceleration of digital transformation of all industries is happening rapidly and we are now living in a world that has to deal with everything being reimagined. Including Education.
Education technology (EdTech) is a term we use to describe the industry that combines education and technological advances, revolutionizing the conventional landscape of education. EdTech not only allows educational institutions to serve a larger and more diverse audience, but also enables educational participants, both teachers and students, to foster relationships in an interactive fashion.
As you can appreciate, EdTech solutions have been becoming part of our everyday lives whether you are a student, parent, educator or knowledge worker in the industry or a professional from any field who is keen on keeping their skills up-to date.
In our “Getting Real with Engineering” series of virtual events, ASEI brings together domain experts and we discuss things from an engineering mindset. This time we decided to focus on Education Technology and conducted a webinar with 3 panelists representing different perspectives of education technology Academics, Technology, Venture Capital and Business. This post provides a bird’s eye view of what transpired when Amrish Chopra and Piyush Malik hosted Dr Preetha Ram, Rohit Chhabra and Narendra Shankar.
First, we had, Dr. Preetha Ram, who previously was an educator and dean of Emory university and went on to start an education technology startup which had a successful exit a few years ago. She is currently working for Pier 70 ventures and investing in the next generation of educational technology companies. Dr. Ram defined the current state of affairs at universities whereby universities and colleges with low endowment and low ranking may not survive the current crisis of low or no enrollment due to COVID-19 pandemic. This crisis now provides us with an opportunity for disruptive innovation in the academic field. New technologies will be used for educating students such as AR/VR immersive learning, using AI and adaptive learning to tailor education to specific students. With several universities going online, we may also see partnership’s with big tech companies and educational institutions.
Next we had Rohit Chhabra who is Vice President of educational technology operations at Zovio which runs an online-only university called Ashford University. Ashford University offers associate's, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in more than 50 areas. Rohit’s view from an already established online university which is already supporting 20,000 plus students. Rohit talked about the challenges in running an online university from a student as well as schools’ point of view. From students’ viewpoint some challenges were: adapting to online learning, keeping motivated, finding the right school, etc. From the school's point of view, it is challenging to convert a regular course to an online course, train faculty, technology help desk for teacher and class and define the value proposition for online education. Given all this there are opportunities available for providing better online education. Some areas were providing better learning and collaboration tools, assessment automation, target course work for individual needs, etc. Finally, Rohit talked about increase in online enrollment numbers as students look for university’s having online presence as it provides them the flexibility.
Our third panelist, Narendra Shankar is currently the global head of business at Udacity - an educational startup ‘unicorn” providing focused education and skill training for students. Narendra talked about how there will be increased loss of jobs due to automation and still companies are saying that talent shortage is their number one risk.
Narendra talked about how they have built a new type of degree, called NanoDegree, which provides practical and specific skill training for less cost than the Universities program. All education is done online. Udacity delivers their educational material by providing an immersive curriculum with support from mentors and real-world projects. Narendra mentioned that traditional universities are working with Udacity to provide more of a blended experience for students.
Key Take Aways:
Some key takeaways from the panel discussion and audience questions that ensued:
Current educational system is ripe for disruption and COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the process
Low ranking and low endowment universities will have to adapt to new technology or become defunct
Future of education is more and more online with traditional universities partnering with technology companies to provide education. Google-Stanford University anyone?
Traditional University may be replaced or supplemented with online degrees (such as NanoDegree.)
There are a number of opportunities for technologists and engineers to take the education Industry to the next level . Some areas are Augmented Reality, Blockchain, Assessment of exams, etc.
Overall this session was full of ideas and thoughts on current and future of educational technology and opportunities for engineers. The future of EdTech in a Post COVID word seems promising. Some PreCovid era projections placed the US Ed Tech market at nearly $50 Billion by the end of 2020 growing at 9% year over year but now it will grow much rapidly. Schools, businesses, parents and individuals, everyone wants to be part of the EdTech evolution- why would anyone not want to capitalize? If you would like to know further, watch the video and get in touch for more info.The Video for this session is being posted for the ASEI members here.

HealthTech Trends and Future in a post COVID world - ASEI Webinar 04/20/2020

Chapter: ASEI National

Healthcare in the US is broken. The current COVID-19 Pandemic is not the first one and certainly not the last one to hit us. Beset with high costs and convoluted workflows, it takes many years to find a cure and drug approvals for humans can take upto a decade. Last few decades has given all the necessary platforms in the form of Internet, Mobile, Big Data and Cloud. With technology advancement, more and more investors are investing into Health tech.

Smart inhalers, robotic surgery, wireless brain sensors, artificial organs, 3-D printing, telehealth are just a few of the major advancements in the recent years. However, we are still in the early innings in the advancement and utilizing technology in the Health industry.

As we were hopeful to see the next version of Healthtech and benefits to society, the world economy has come to a standstill because of a pandemic. How will this pandemic shape the future of healthtech and its advancement? Will this be the catalyst that is required to catapult healthtech or will the slowdown in the economy stop the healthtech juggernaut in its stride?

ASEI Silicon Valley Chapter will be hosting a panel discussion next week (April 20th, 2020) with HLS experts and innovators in conversation moderated by Santosh Ankola, Head of Product at TechCrunch

Our distinguished speakers of this online session are
1) Dilip Goswami (Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Molekule)
Dilip’s chronic struggle with allergies and asthma issues from a young age inspired his father, Dr. Yogi Goswami, to develop the technology behind Molekule. Together with Dr. Goswami and his sister, Jaya, Dilip co-founded Molekule to commercialize this life-changing technology.

Dilip previously served as VP of Technology at Advanced Technologies & Testing Laboratories where he led research & development. He holds an M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University and B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Florida.

2) Dr Sriram Iyer

Dr Sriram Iyer is a senior Respiratory & Sleep Physician based in Liverpool, UK. He works in one of the largest sleep disorder centers in England. He is currently providing expertise at the forefront of the National Health Service Covid-19 response in Northwest England.
He has previously held senior management and education roles in the NHS and was a visiting sleep consultant at the Univ of British Columbia Hospital in Vancouver.
He has a sub-specialist interest in lung cancer, pleural disease and sleep disorders and is published extensively in these fields.
He is also the Director/Founder of a private sleep health company, Sleep Vitality, which provides expertise in management of sleep disorders. He is a sleep expert for the Welsh Rugby Union.
He qualified as a doctor in Bangalore and is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London. He holds a creative writing certificate from Simon Fraser University (Vancouver).

In this session, we will focus on few major aspects of Health Tech:

Effect of Pandemic like Coronavirus
-More focus on Telehealth
-Better predictive models; Using Data effectively; IoT
-Economic impact and the effect on funding in future
-ML/AI - Large advancements in NLP, is this the time for computational chemistry

Challenges of using technology
-Training physicians with use of new technology
-Data privacy and security for patients and physicians affordability

Looking beyond the pandemic:
-Innovation Avenues in HLS
-Latest trends

A message about Coronavirus

Chapter: ASEI National

Dear ASEI Members and Supporters,

During this unprecedented time, we want to make sure that you and your family are safe. Please follow the guidelines from appropriate Federal, State, and Local authorities. The effectiveness of Social Distancing is directly connected to full cooperation from everyone. We want to thank all the Healthcare professionals and the First Responders. They are doing everything possible to help anyone who is infected by the COVID-19.

For the safety of our ASEI members and supporters, we have decided not to hold any face-to-face meetings until further notice. We will leverage webinars and other online connectivity options to serve our membership.
Please visit our website for the latest updates and announcements.

Stay Home. Stay Safe. Save Lives.

Best regards,
Jwalant Lakhia, Bhavesh Joshi, Rakesh Patel, and Ashok Madan on behalf of the ASEI National Board


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