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Engineering Success: Navigating Career Paths in Renewable Energy – Insights from a BITS Pilani Alumnus

Engineering Success: Navigating Career Paths in Renewable Energy - Insights from a BITS Pilani Alumnus



Hari Charan, a graduate from BITS Pilani (Hyderabad ‘14) with a Masters in Design Engineering, currently holds employment with Vestas Wind Systems, a Danish Wind Turbine Manufacturer. His role at Vestas involves tackling challenging engineering problems within the global fleet of wind turbines. His team is tasked with addressing performance-related gaps in terms of loads and power production by analyzing turbine data, devising optimal solutions using control technology, and implementing them through software updates.

On a personal note, Hari Charan is married to Krishna Priya, and together they have two beautiful children: 5-year-old Sruthika and 2-year-old Srihith. They have been residing in Chennai for the past 5 years, enjoying their beautiful home. Hari Charan's interests span sports, technology, politics, reading, and driving. He particularly enjoys traveling with his family.

What made you choose masters in design engineering at BITS Pilani, Hyd Campus after B.E. Mechanical in KL University?

It was absolutely a conscious decision to forego placement offers after my bachelors and seek Masters in Mechanical Engineering. As I recall, it was always my hunger for learning and passion for the subjects I studied during my Bachelors, which led me to continue my studies, thanks to the professors who generated curiosity. Ending up at BITS Hyderabad is somewhat unplanned as I was quite serious about my GATE preparation. Though I qualified in GATE, I chose BITS over NITs or maybe budding IITs, as one of my cousins got into our institute just the previous year and he gave very good feedback about the campus and the standards of teaching.

Could you share one of your favorite memories from your time at BITS, perhaps a moment on campus that holds a special place in your heart?

 It was definitely the day when I received my first placement offer with a very tough competition at that time. Getting placed in a core company where you get to apply your learnings from the academics was a really tough task during our time due to various reasons, one – there are not many core companies who recruit freshers out of college and second – generally, they are low paying jobs when compared to software behemoths where our good friends from other departments get placed in. The placement process in this company started early on that day with a written test where both first degree and higher degree students participated. After several rounds of shortlisting, the day ended with announcing just two out of 60 odd candidates somewhere around 10 in the night. This particular day in my life is extremely special to me and I still remember the walk with a lot of pride, from the placement cell to the hostel, where coincidentally, my father was waiting eagerly for me.

Share something that you exclusively learned in BITS that helped you shape your career?

As mentioned earlier, it was turning out to be a daunting task to get placements in the core companies as we approached the end of the placement season. However, it was never a struggle to me as well as my batch mates to keep up the confidence as the certificate from this institute has got an extremely high value which could get you to places you can’t imagine. The academic curriculum is so diligently designed to give the best learning experience one can get in a short period of time. It is not just the academics but the overall process around it is exceptional when compared to other Indian institutes. When I started my career in a highly reputed medical devices R&D organization called Medtronic, I knew this was an entry ticket given by my institute and it was up to me to prove myself carrying the enormous self-confidence and belief it has given to me. The sheer value of the BITS brand was proven again and again when I navigated through my career in multiple organizations like General Electric and now Vestas.

You have worked for multiple companies in your career, which one did you feel was good to work in?

Like many, we’ve had a list of dream companies to work with, and it was definitely General Electric somewhere in the top of the list. When they visited our campus, I couldn’t get through but the zeal to work with them remained. It was realized sooner than I thought when I received a call from GE Renewables, 2 years after I joined my first company. Without much thought, I signed up for the job and I enjoyed every moment spent there learning and applying new things. I witnessed some of the very passionate engineers there and I would say it has a tremendous impact in shaping my career. As my passion to excel in this renewable industry grew over the years, I ended up taking a job at Vestas which has been the leader in this industry. It’s been little over 5 years since I joined this exceptional organization and there is never a moment of regret. I’ve been fortunate to get various opportunities to prove my mettle and I invited them with both hands all the time, thanks to the self-confidence and belief instilled deep inside by BITS.

Are you happy with your current role as Lead Engineer in VESTAS?

I started my career at Vestas as Technical lead, responsible for a very challenging area of solving problems arising in the wind turbine fleet across the globe. It was a tough task to start with something like this as it would generally need a very good institutional knowledge about the design philosophies and gaps in the product design. As I always did, I said YES and moved forward as I embarked on both a learning and leadership journey. After a stint of three years in this role, I was rewarded with a nomination to a programme called ‘Regional Talent Programme’ where less than 50 across the 30,000 + employed were handpicked through a thorough people review process and some attitude tests. This is aimed to accelerate my career development by giving necessary exposure and training to various elements in the diverse organization. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this 10-month programme to develop networking and train myself to the needs of the organization. Currently, I’m working on yet another challenging development project where my task is to make use of data engineering principles to make the organization wiser in design decision making but also solving critical issues in the turbines. This is one of its kind in the organization where I have got the opportunity to make the foundation for something great to come.

The BITS Alumni is known for its strength and support. How has your seniors and alumni network benefited you in your career?

Though I spent only three semesters on the campus, we had very nice interactions with our seniors as well as our juniors on various aspects. Some of them are still connected via various social media networks like LinkedIn. I follow BITS Alumni pages quite regularly and I feel there is a lot of potential to make use of this wealth of information in our respective careers.

What advice would you offer to aspiring engineers looking to make a positive impact in the renewable energy sector?

Throughout my 10+ years of career, I’ve been fortunate to work in two exceptional industries – Medical devices and now the Renewables – Wind to be specific. When I was in college, little did I know about the opportunities a typical mechanical engineer or any core engineer would have in these industries.From my personal experience, I can tell you one thing – Always trust your passion, it is the one which can take you far, gives you a daily dose of motivation to go to work daily, enjoy your life to the fullest with the right balance. You may not get high pay cheques to start with but trust me, the beauty of applying the things you learned in your academics is so fulfilling that gives you immense pride. I can only recommend you to start building your own networks with your peers, alumni, professors, which lands you in unimaginable places. Last but not least, embrace each and every second you spend at the campus. This ‘time’ once gone will never be brought back. Make good friends, follow your passion and stay strong – BITsians are above and beyond any uncertainties and hurdles in the outside world. You are always welcome to approach me or my batchmates for that little piece of advice for what it is worth.