Today we have the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Sudhir Rao Rupanagudi. Mr Rupanagudi and his team have worked tirelessly to help develop ‘WorldServe Education’, helping students and providing quality education to those around the world. WorldServe Education also caters to the worlds of research, design and development, particularly in the fields of FPGA Design, Image Processing and Web Design and Development.
1. Briefly tell us about yourself;
My name is Mr. Sudhir Rao Rupanagudi, founder and Managing Director of WorldServe Education, Bengaluru, India. I completed my education in Electronics and Communication from Atria Institute of Technology, Bengaluru in 2006 and found an extreme liking toward communication and the world of FPGA’s during my Bachelor’s degree. In order to further pursue my dream, I moved to Sweden and completed my Masters in System on Chip at LTH where I majored in Communications and developed a low power decoder for wireless communication systems. Upon completion in 2008 and arriving back to India, I joined the Indian Institute of Science as a Research associate in the ECE department. Within this department my major role twas to work on baseband architectures for Wireless Sensor Networks on FPGA. It was during this time, over numerous coffee sessions with my like minded friend and co-founder – Miss. Ranjani B. S., we realized that there was a huge vacuum in India for students to turn their technological dreams into reality. The question of “Why not create an organization, wherein a student having an idea can just walk in, discuss and turn his/her idea into actuality with the help of guidance from highly experienced individuals?” sprung into our minds and thus WorldServe was born.
2. What is WorldServe Education and what inspired you to develop this concept?
As I mentioned earlier, WorldServe Education is an organization with a sole intent of guiding students and people who want to learn new things, innovate and create technologies to make a difference to the world. We started off in 2008 with just six students, and after that there was no turning back! Currently, we have catered to more than 1000 students worldwide, teaming up with them and innovating more than 100 projects related to humanitarian causes, agriculture and lifestyle.
I feel the main inspiration to start this organization are the very students themselves! They come to us with a varying multitude of ideas – from low cost automated conveyor belts (in order to segregate produce for the farmers of India) to humanitarian based concepts such as automated Braille to English converters… It’s amazing to see young innovators in each and every one of them and moulding them brings great joy to us at the end of the day.
3. What are some of the key achievement of WorldServe today? Can you give us examples of how your work has affected others?
I guess the major achievement of our organization is the fact that our students have been able to prototype their project ideas at such low costs! For instance, a project of ours wherein a patient suffering from motor neuron disease can communicate through blinks or move a wheelchair with just his eye gaze, has been designed for approximately $100 The students, who have developed this prototype, could then later market their product and this in turn would be an economically viable solution to people, especially in developing countries.
Apart from this, WorldServe has also been effective in providing several job opportunities for our students both inside our organization and also outside. A fine example of this would be our Senior Research Associate – Ms. Varsha G Bhat, who started off as a student two years ago and has now completed guiding more than 100 students at our organization. It’s very encouraging when students call us back, after their course, with a good job offer or a word of recognition from a University abroad, for their project.
4. How has the IEEE influenced you career path and what you have achieved?
Come to think of it, if I plot a timeline of WorldServe Education’s growth from what it was in 2009 to what it is in 2015, we would be able to see IEEE in that timeline at every major juncture! I feel one of the main motivational factors for our students to complete their projects has been the IEEE. Writing a conference paper, submitting it to an IEEE sponsored conference and finally seeing it enlist on the IEEExplore website has been a thrilling experience for all our students. To date we have around 14 papers enlisted over on the webpage. Apart from that, I am proud to state that our projects were shortlisted twice, once in 2013 and again in 2014, for the IEEE Humanitarian challenge – a competition held every year by the IEEE. In 2013, our student group led by Sachin S K went on to win the 3rd Place at the Demo – IT competition held at Hyderabad as part of the AISC – IEEE. It doesn’t end there. IEEE also funded three of our projects last year as part of the “IEEE standards programme”. Three groups utilized various engineering standards in their projects and were very appreciative in receiving this amount.
In this way I could say IEEE has always been a steady support for our work without which we would not be able to probably achieve or reach the heights we have today!
5. Where do you see WorldServe Education in the next 10 years and do you have anything big planned that you would like to share with our readers?
That’s a very interesting question! I guess our major goal at this point of time would be to expand our services to as many students as possible worldwide. Even though we have a good web presence, a physical presence across the world would assist in catering to them quite easily. In 2012, we were the first to host an International workshop on a major programming software online. We now plan to host similar workshops at several locations around the world. This would be possible with the support of Universities and also sponsoring organizations like the IEEE. We also are on the lookout towards funding agencies or investors who could take this dream further ahead.
Apart from project guidance, WorldServe recently collaborated with the ICTS-TIFR (International Centre of Theoretical Sciences – Tata Institute of Fundamental Research), to develop a video processing based game to understand mathematical functions better. This exhibit was a part of the Mathematics of Planet Earth 2012, Bengaluru and was received with great appreciation. We look forward to developing many such applications in the future as well.
6. Do you have any words of advice for Young Professionals wanting to make a change?
Absolutely! My father always says – “Learn from other’s experience, rather than your own”. I really feel any young professional who has a great idea and a plan to make a difference to people, should really not think twice in starting up their enterprise. They should have self-belief and take the plunge. Taking my own example, if I look back, I was an introvert, a person who could not face crowds or give a speech on the stage. When I meet my teachers now, they feel “Is this the same guy?” The main reason for this change was self-belief in the idea – “If you gotta do it, you gotta do it”. Another important aspect required to start a movement like ours, is patience! Things will happen eventually but they shall take time. Also, you will meet a whole lot of people during the process of setting up – a few encouraging and a few who might downplay your ideas! Simple solution – DO NOT GIVE UP. Take bad reviews with positivity and see how you can solve them, but if you feel you were not at fault – there’s always that recycle bin! At the end of day make sure you stick to your plan, focus and remember it’s not always about reaching your destination… don’t forget to enjoy the journey!