News 2020

12/29
PRESS RELEASE - ASEI HOSTS SUCCESSFUL VIRTUAL CONVENTION

Chapter: ASEI National

 
PRESS RELEASE
 
ASEI HOSTS SUCCESSFUL VIRTUAL CONVENTION
 
American Society of Engineers of Indian Origin (ASEI) hosted its 33rd Annual National Convention focusing on Global Engineering & Technologies (GET-2020). This virtual convention was held on December 5th and 6th, 2020. While the speakers and participants were on the Zoom platform, it was live-streamed worldwide through YouTube.  Attended by scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and corporate leaders across the USA, the two-day event featured keynotes and multiple interactive sessions with prominent business and technology leaders, scientists, and engineering entrepreneurs. At the Finale session on the second day, ASEI recognized four engineering achievers and four service excellence and contributors to ASEI.
 
The convention started with a welcome by ASEI President Jwalant Lakhia. It was emceed by Anu Gopalakrishnan. The first keynote speaker Deval Desai, VP Magna Int. spoke about Contributions of Indian Technologists and weaved the storyline from mythology to history to modern era in a very short span of time. From making the best steel in the world to teaching the world to count, India was actively contributing to the field of science and technology long before the modern world evolved. One of the oldest civilizations in the world, India has a strong tradition of science and technology. Many theories and techniques discovered by the ancient Indians have created and strengthened the fundamentals of modern science and technology. While some of these groundbreaking contributions have been acknowledged, some are still unknown to most, and he shared some of the profound inventions that have and will continue to shape the future of humankind. It was heartening to see the contribution of Indian women scientists and engineers highlighted in a field typically dominated by men. There were so many factoids about things and achievements of unsung engineering heroes that would make anyone hailing from the Indian subcontinent proud!
 
The first technical session Quantum computing by Dancing with Qubits was a keynote by Dr Robert Sutor, VP Quantum, IBM Research. Quantum computing aims to solve complex problems the world's most powerful supercomputers cannot solve. Leading the race in this field is IBM, though Google, Microsoft, Amazon and lot of others are all putting heavy investment bets in Quantum as well. Considering application in life sciences, an example was presented as follows: On average, it takes 10 to13 years and more than $2.5 billion to bring a new medical therapy from the discovery bench to the patient. The odds of success are overwhelmingly weighted in favor of failure. Harnessing the power of quantum computing can deliver the potential to significantly accelerate the timelines for, and enhance the quality of various stages of pharmaceutical research and development processes. That was very futuristic and sounded exciting.
 
According to Dr. Sutor, Quantum promises to tackle classically challenging problems across a variety of industries, from optimizing traffic control to refining supply chain logistics, and from discovering new drugs to detecting fraud more rapidly. Also, anyone can now try out the power of quantum on the IBM cloud for free with toolkits and resources available freely!
 
The next speaker was Prof Solomon Darwin, often known as the "Father of Smart Village Movement." Dr, Darwin spoke on Agritech innovations for a Smarter Village. Dr Darwin shared how UC Berkeley Haas School defines the concept and after that shared about his books and publications in addition to the agricultural innovations that have the potential to make villages smarter with minimal resources.
 
The next session was on User Experience Design (UXD), which is a design process whose sole objective is to design a system that offers a great experience to its users. Thus, UXD embraces the theories of a number of disciplines such as user interface design, usability, accessibility, information architecture, and Human Computer Interaction. The first speaker Urmila Kashyap, Senior User Experience Designer with VMware, talked about UX design systems for enterprise products based on her 10+ years of UXD experience working with large companies like Moody's & VMware. Surbhi Kaul, GM and Head of Product at Juniper Networks, built on it and shared from her own experience of building and launching products over two decades at Netflix, Cisco, YouTube, Google and Juniper Networks covering why UXD is critical to a product’s success and highlighted design systems using examples of AIML products she has helped launch.
 
An engineering and technology conference can’t be complete without covering Artificial Intelligence (AI). One might imagine that artificial intelligence is only something the big tech giants are focused on, and that AI doesn't impact your everyday life. In reality, Artificial Intelligence is increasingly penetrating both our work and personal lives. Yet, many organizations in traditional industries are still grappling with justifying the ROI beyond proof-of-concept stage and struggling with operationalizing AI/ML. From a research to engineering to business perspective, a complete CXO view is needed which was provided by an IBM Fellow and Master Inventor with over 45 patents to her name - Rama Akkiraju, CTO AIOps addressing this daunting challenge and shared some best practices in this session on Artificial Intelligence in the Enterprise.
 
Autonomous Vehicles and Future Transportation is an interesting topic in which Jeff Hannah, Director, NA SBD Automotive & Akshay Desai, Associate Partner, McKinsey presented their POVs and tried separating fact from fiction about autonomous cars. Whether you are an automotive expert or newbie, one could gain valuable insights into the future of mobility and learn exciting ways to participate in this growing industry. Desai focussed on the future for autonomous vehicle adoption and the changing AV mobility market. The session was moderated by Convention Co-Chair Bhavesh Joshi.
 
The objective of the YTE was to provide a forum for young engineers, students and budding scientists to showcase their projects in science, engineering and technology topics that can have an impact on our world. The finalist students faced a barrage of questions from the judges Amrish Chopra and Mutthu Sivanathan. This competition and session was conceived and coordinated by the Conference Content Chair and President of ASEI-Silicon Valley Piyush Malik.
 
It was a tight race to pick winners based on combining scores from responses to judges’s questions, audience poll and quality and depth of engineering and research in their submissions from prior rounds. Finally, the top 3 winners declared were: (1) Nidhi Mathihali (2) Jyoti Rani and (3) Isha Jagadish.
 
The second day started with ASEI President Jwalant Lakhia welcoming the audience back and laying out the plan for the day. At the outset it became pretty clear to the audience that they would hear some high-powered content led by industry leaders lined up for the day. 
 
Opening keynote on Leadership in turbulent times was delivered by Dr. Satyam Priyadarshy, Chief Data Scientist & Technology Fellow, Haliburton. Leadership in turbulent times is a critically important topic and pertinent considering the current socio-geo-politico-economic scenario in the COVID era. Dr. Priyadarshy, is a globally recognized leader for his expertise in leveraging disruptive technologies, strategies and talent transformation to increase business value. He applied ancient Indian wisdom from Hanuman Chalisa to talk about a framework to face disruption in tumultuous times. According to Dr. Priyadarshy, every challenge from the past looks smaller. Paradigm shifts, Leading the transformation with a mnemonic “Karma Matters” and putting the essence of all management texts with 20 words from the religious prayer, he beautifully showed the audience some leadership lessons that have helped him as well as the teams he has led from academics to corporate life.
 
The next keynote session Career Management in a Disrupted Economy was delivered by Dilip Saraf who is an IIT Alumnus and has reinvented himself 5 times to be a Career and Life Coach besides being an Author and speaker. Dilip very succinctly brought out the problem and solution pertinent to those facing career challenges during this Covid-19 pandemic which has jolted us into action with a career wake-up call with uncertainty about how future jobs will emerge. Using examples from his own career shifts as well as couple of his high-profile clients, Saraf’s talk on career management was about strategies available to all of us to better manage our career and to develop resilient options for us to deal with this uncertainty and to stay in control of our own destinies.
 
The next session was an inspiring fireside chat conducted by Piyush Malik, SVP SpringML, with Naveen Jain, CEO Viome & Founder/Chairman - Moon Express on Exponential Technologies for Humanity’s Grand Challenges. The session saw both engaged in a high energy conversation on exponential technologies and life sciences. For the uninitiated, exponential technologies are those which are rapidly accelerating and shaping major industries and all aspects of our lives. For a technology to be “exponential,” the power and/or speed doubles each year, and/or the cost drops by half. As in Moore’s law!
 
Exponential technologies include artificial intelligence (AI), augmented and virtual reality (AR, VR), data science, digital biology and biotech, medicine, nanotech and digital fabrication, networks and computing systems, robotics, and autonomous vehicles. Solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges lie at the intersection of these exponential technologies.
 
In the next session Cybersecurity: Opportunity of Threat? the audience learned about the latest trends in cybersecurity from Anand Oswal, SVP and GM at PaloAlto Networks and was joined in conversation with popular cybersecurity strategist and influencer Matthew Rosenquist who is currently the Chief Information Security Officer at Eclipz
 
Cybersecurity has taken center stage in the enterprise executive mind as cases of ransomware and denial of services attacks and data breaches have kept the CISOs of the nation occupied. However, currently the biggest threats are often also the biggest opportunities. Cybersecurity is imperative for enterprises as well as nations today. Projections are that cybercrime will exceed $6 trillion annually by 2021 from $3 trillion in 2015, according to Cybersecurity Ventures. Probably the most a significant factor driving this acceleration is the increasing efficiency of cybercriminals. The dark web has become a thriving black market where criminals of all means can gain the capabilities necessary to launch sophisticated cyberattacks.
 
Anand talked about the 3 concurrent mega transitions in enterprise IT that are impacting network security viz. Rise of a mobile workforce, Shift to hybrid cloud and Direct to app architectures. The fireside chat drew a number of interesting questions from the audience which kept the session flow lively.
 
The enterprise technology landscape has increasingly become difficult to manage for a CIO whose role has evolved from a Chief Information Officer to a Chief Innovation Officer in the past few years. With digital transformation mandate becoming table stakes, rapid adoption of Cloud and work-from-anywhere becoming a norm, the technology woes of an enterprise CTO or a CIO seems to be unending and may have been exacerbated due to the current pandemic.
 
The next session was the powerful CXO fireside chat focusing on Innovation in the Enterprise with Manoj Prasad, VP & Global CTO, Thermo Fisher Scientific and Prakash Kota, CIO Autodesk, moderated by Rakesh Guliani. What does a CTO of a public company worry about? How does the CIO become indispensable in M&A decisions? How will this pandemic change the pace of innovation in enterprise technology? These and many more topics were central to this conversation where we also found how Thermofisher Scientific is at the forefront of fight against COVID!
 
“Space - the final frontier” these words from Star Trek can hardly be erased from memory of those who grew up watching the science fiction TV series. Many of the innovations shown have transcended from fiction into reality as commercial space tourism is set to start and our exploratory missions to either colonizing the moon or to become a multi planetary species have been progressing well with many successful missions with robots to Mars and beyond in the past decade thanks to NASA, ISRO, European Space Agency, SpaceX and other commercial aerospace companies. The next session speaker was a super smart NASA/BAERI Space scientist Dr Sreeja Nag who also happened to be a Robotist at Nuro. Speaking on Robotics and Space, she shared her experiences on autonomous robots that work on earth as well as in the space. 
 
The last session of the Convention was the ASEI Awards which was anchored by Dr Thomas Abraham, Chair Awards Committee. Chief Guest was Ambassador Amit Kumar, Consul General India in Chicago. Consul General Kumar emphasized the importance of Indian American engineers and scientists pooling their talents to help India. He also presided over the function where 8 industry and ASEI awards were given out and each recipient gave a brief acceptance speech. The awardees are as follows:
 
ASEI Lifetime Achievement -Naveen Jain
 
ASEI Entrepreneur of The Year - Jyoti Bansal
 
ASEI Engineer of The Year (Mech/Solar) - Dr Yogi Goswami
 
ASEI Engineer pf The Year (Industrial Operations and Product Management) - Deval Desai
 
ASEI Service Excellence Award – Rakesh Patel
 
Hari Bindal ASEI Founders Award - Vatsala Upadhyay
 
Leadership and Contribution to ASEI - Rakesh Guliani and Sunita Dublish  
 
Dr Neeraj Bindal, son of ASEI Founder the Late Dr. Hari Bindal gave a moving tribute to his father as he presented the Founder’s award to Vatsala.    
 
The convention was put together by ASEI President Jwalant Lakhia along with Convention Co-chairs Rakesh Patel and Bhavesh Joshi. The Program chair was ASEI Michigan Chapter President Vatsala Upadhyay. ASEI Silicon Valley Chapter President Piyush Malik served as Convention Content Chair.
 
About ASEI
 
The American Society of Engineers of Indian Origin (ASEI) is a not-for-profit organization that provides a platform for networking, career advancement, community service, mentoring and technology exchange for professionals, students and businesses in the United States and abroad. Members are guided by several objectives, including the creation of an open, inclusive, and transparent organization; providing positive role models, awarding scholarships, and remaining socially responsible. ASEI was founded in 1983 in Detroit, Michigan by a handful of visionaries. Today, the organization also has chapters in Michigan, Southern California, Silicon Valley, Seattle, and Washington, DC. For more information, visit: www.aseiusa.org.
 
**
 
Note to Editor – If you need more information, please contact Dr. Thomas Abraham at 203-329-8010 or innoresearch@optonline.net

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12/05
PRESS RELEASE- ASEI TO HONOR EIGHT AT ITS 33RD ANNUAL VIRTUAL CONVENTION

Chapter: ASEI National

American Society of Engineers of Indian Origin (ASEI) is hosting the 33rd Annual National Convention focusing on Global Engineering & Technologies (GET-2020). This virtual convention will be held starting on December 5th and end on Dec. 6th, 2020 from 1 pm to 4 pm (EST). The objective of this event is to provide a forum to promote and share advancements related to the latest cutting-edge innovations and technologies across various engineering disciplines. The convention is expected to be virtually attended by scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and corporate leaders across the USA and globally. This two-day event will feature keynotes and multiple interactive sessions with prominent business and technology leaders, scientists, media personalities, educators, policymakers, and investment bankers.
 
The convention will have multiple interactive sessions led by deep subject matter experts providing information and insight on many topics related to the convention theme. Speakers include Viome CEO Naveen Jain, Palo Alto Networks Senior VP & GM Anand Oswal, Prof. Solomon Darwin of UC Berkeley-Haas Center for Corporate Innovation, Halliburton Chief Data-Scientist Dr Satyam Priyadarshy; Surbhi Kaul, GM & Head of Product, Juniper Networks; Space & Robotics Scientist Dr. Sreeja Nag at NASA/BAERI & Nuro.AI, Eclipz Chief Information Security Officer Matthew Rosenquist, Thermo Fisher Scientific VP & Global CTO Manoj Prasad, Autodesk Chief Information Officer Prakash Kota, IBM Fellow Rama Akkiraju, Magna International  VP Deval Desai, SBD Automotive North America Director Jeffrey Hannah, McKinsey & Company Associate Partner Akshay Desai and Quantum Computing VP Robert Sutor, SpringML Senior Vice President, Piyush Malik.
 
There will be a Youth Technology Exposition (YTE) for young scientists and students from High School to Undergrad engineering during this virtual ASEI National Convention. The objective of the YTE is to provide a forum for young engineers, students and budding scientists to showcase their projects in science, engineering and technology topics that can have an impact on our world.
 
The convention is put together by ASEI President Jwalant Lakhia along with Convention Co-chairs Rakesh Patel and Bhavesh Joshi. The Convention Technology chair is ASEI Michigan Chapter President Vatsala Upadhyay. ASEI Silicon Valley Chapter President Piyush Malik is serving as the Convention Content Chair.
 
The convention will end with a finale awards ceremony session on December 6th at 3.30 pm (EST). where eight outstanding achievers and those who contributed to ASEI growth and society at large will be honored. This year’s outstanding achievement awards go to the following:
 
ASEI Lifetime Achievement Award – Naveen Jain, CEO, Viome and Chairman, Moon Express.
ASEI Entrepreneur of the Year – Jyoti Bansal, Serial entrepreneur and a Silicon Valley technology visionary
Engineer of the Year Award in Mechanical/Solar Energy– Prof. D. Yogi Goswami, Ph.D, PE, Distinguished University Professor and Director of the Clean Energy Research Center at the University of South Florida and in Product Engineering and Operations Management – Deval Desai, Vice President & India Country Head, Magna International
 
ASEI will also honor four others for their dedicated service to ASEI:
ASEI Service Excellence Award – Rakesh Patel, Former President and Current Treasurer, ASEI; Hari Bindal ASEI Founders Award - Vatsala Upadhyay, ASEI Michigan President, and Leadership and Contribution to ASEI - Rakesh Guliani and Sunita Dublish , ASEI Silicon Valley Chapter
 
ASEI President Jwalant Lakhia said, "ASEI is very pleased to recognize all awardees for their dedication, hard work, and exemplary contribution in their respective fields. We plan to continue with our annual tradition of acknowledging those who have made outstanding contributions in Technology and Engineering and those who have done extraordinary work to support ASEI"
ASEI Board Member Dr. Thomas Abraham served as Awards Committee Chair. Dr. Abraham said that ASEI is a great organization providing a broad platform for the Indian origin engineers, technologists and scientists and it provides wide networking opportunities for all engineering professionals as well as makes them engaged in new technologies. “ASEI resources can be pooled to benefit in India’s development,” Dr. Abraham added.
 
AWARDEES 2020
 
ASEI Lifetime Achievement Award – Naveen Jain, CEO, Viome and Chairman, Moon Express
Naveen Jain is an entrepreneur driven to solve global grand challenges through innovation. He is the founder of several successful companies including Moon Express, Viome, Bluedot, TalentWise, Intelius and InfoSpace. Moon Express is the only company in the world to have the permission to leave earth Viome is focused on disrupting healthcare with the goal of “making illness elective” by identifying microbial biomarkers that are predictive of chronic diseases and to adjust the microbial imbalance through personalized nutrition. Naveen Jain has been awarded many honors for his entrepreneurial successes.
 
ASEI Entrepreneur of the Year – Jyoti Bansal, Serial entrepreneur and a Silicon Valley technology visionary
Jyoti Bansal is a serial entrepreneur and a Silicon Valley technology visionary. An alum from IIT Delhi, he believes passionately in software’s ability to change the world for the better. In 2008, he founded AppDynamics, an application intelligence company that was acquired by Cisco for $3.7 Billion. Since then, he founded BIG Labs and is CEO & Co-founder of Harness, and CEO & Co-founder of Traceable - a software cybersecurity company. Also, he founded Unusual Ventures, a new $400 Million venture capital fund focused on helping early-stage technology entrepreneurs. 
 
Engineer of the Year Award (Mechanical/Solar Energy) – Prof. D. Yogi Goswami, Ph.D., PE, Distinguished University Professor and Director of the Clean Energy Research Center at the University of South Florida
Dr. Goswami is the Distinguished University Professor and Director of the Clean Energy Research Center at the University of South Florida. Professor Goswami is the Editor-in-Chief of the Solar Energy journal, and Progress in Solar Energy. He is an author or editor 16 books and more than 300 refereed technical papers. He is a recipient of many distinguished awards for his outstanding work. Dr. Goswami is a recipient of the highest energy-related awards of ASME, ASES, ISES and AAES and more than 50 other awards and certificates from major engineering and scientific societies.
 
Engineer of the Year Award (Product Engineering and Operations Management) – Deval Desai, Vice President & India Country Head, Magna International
Deval Desai serves as Vice President and India Country Head at Magna International, a global automotive supplier that designs, develops and manufactures components and systems for the world’s leading automakers. In this position, Desai is responsible for digital marketing, strategic business development and continued expansion in India, and serves as one of the senior representatives for Magna in India.
 
ASEI Service Excellence Award – Rakesh Patel, Former President and Current Treasurer, ASEI
Rakesh Patel is an engineer, entrepreneur, board advisor, and IT consultant for the various domains of emerging technologies. He has been working as a Global IT compliance at General Motors for the past 8 years. Previously, he has provided IT consulting to IBM, Chrysler, EDS, HP, Ford, and various other industries. Serving as Board Member, Vice President, President and currently as Treasurer, Rakesh has also been serving as executive and board member at various professional and non-profit organizations. Rakesh has an Engineering Degree from India and MS in management technology from the University of Phoenix.
 
 
 
Hari Bindal ASEI Founders Award - Vatsala Upadhyay, ASEI Michigan President
Vatsala Upadhyay is the IT Systems Architect at Seco Tools. She has almost 30 years of experience in collaboration solutions and CRM applications across multi-platforms. Master’s in computer applications from BIT, Mesra with Executive MBA degree, she has professional certifications in Project Management, ITIL, Scrum, and Six Sigma. Vatsala is extremely passionate about life and values each moment as a beautiful gift. She has been a national level volleyball player back in India and is a techno-geek, who believes that there is a solution for every problem, we need to just look deep enough.
 
Leadership and Contribution to ASEI - Rakesh Guliani and Sunita Dublish , ASEI Silicon Valley Chapter
Rakesh Guliani is Vice President at Park Computer Systems and has served as director at ASEI Silicon Valley chapter focusing on  STEM  and internship initiatives. With education and background in software engineering and entrepreneurial experience of building a job board and application tracking system, he drives innovative solutions, coaches leaders to be successful, and develops strong, diverse teams. Attracting, retaining, mentoring, and developing talent is his key strength. 
Sunita Dublish is a web developer with front-end as well as back-end skills and more than 15 years of experience in web development. She believes in creating great experiences for end-users. She has worked at start-ups, nonprofit and for-profit companies. She has a Computer Science degree from IET, Lucknow. She also serves and has served on the boards of several nonprofit organizations. Sunita has served as ASEI Silicon Valley volunteer for a few years and is now Director IT.
 
About ASEI
The American Society of Engineers of Indian Origin (ASEI) is a not-for-profit organization that provides a platform for networking, career advancement, community service, mentoring and technology exchange for professionals, students and businesses in the United States and abroad. Members are guided by several objectives, including the creation of an open, inclusive, and transparent organization; providing positive role models, awarding scholarships, and remaining socially responsible. ASEI was founded in 1983 in Detroit, Michigan by a handful of visionaries. Today, the organization also has chapters in Michigan, Southern California, Silicon Valley, Seattle, and Washington, DC. For more information, visit www.aseiusa.org.
 
Note to Editor – If you need more information, please contact Dr. Thomas Abraham at 203-329-8010 or innoresearch@optonline.net

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11/15
Tribute to Dr. Hari Bindal

Chapter: ASEI National

TRIBUTE TO DR. HARI BINDAL
 
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.
 
 
Sincerely,
 
Jwalant Lakhia
Jwalant Lakhia (jklakhia@gmail.com)
President, American Society of Engineers of Indian Origin (ASEI)

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11/05
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.
 
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1F5CPse6c2dbf1d83TNLoyS_iDSbFshLcgYO1P-KooFM/edit?usp=sharing
 
Sincerely,Bhavesh JoshiVice President, ASEI National BoardChairman, 2020 ASEI National Board Election Committee
Election Committee: Bhavesh Joshi, Ananth Sarkar and Suresh Ladva

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06/02
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.

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05/30
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.

 Assistance:
·         U.S. Embassy New Delhi
Shanti Path, Chanakyapuri 110021
telephone: +91-11-2419-8000
https://in.usembassy.gov
·     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

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05/26
DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION AND THE EDUCATION TECHNOLOGY INDUSTRY

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.
 

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04/26
ASEI- 2020 National Board Nomination

Chapter: Michigan