RATAN LAL-Application for MS in CIVIL Engineering - Construction Engineering & Research Management
Having grown up in one of the most poverty stricken parts of India, I have been seeing many being pauperized and homeless since a very young age. The gross inadequacy or absence of essential facilities, amenities and an unhygienic and unsafe environment had initially triggered empathy only towards my nation but later changed into social responsibility ,when I realized that these were universal problems. The gradual hike in housing investments has made the affordability of a decent abode for an average man extremely difficult. I find the improper construction methods used lack advancement. Poor technology and unskilled labour can be cited as factors responsible. Thus, my desire to eliminate these shortcomings and also my natural urge to help people, specifically to get a decent residence has vastly increased my inclination towards construction in general.
When I pursued my under graduation, I found civil engineering to be the only course that could amplify my interests. So I chose the same, despite many cautioning me against it since it is not as sought after as Electronics or Computer Science Engineering in India. The Civil Engineering program at the prestigious PES Institute of Technology was a perfect match to my interests with the right mix of theoretical and practical courses. The college ensured that the fundamentals along with the knowledge of the latest software were spot on. I have the memberships of ASCE, ACI and ICI to keep myself abreast with the latest information in civil engineering with their journals and seminars. During my bachelor's, I always had an interest in Project Management as it could satisfy my thirst to learn and improvise the construction process more than any other subject. It was only after leaning this subject that I realised, so much thought and planning goes into completing a Construction project.
Yet, the mere theoretical knowledge was not enough for me to understand what the actual scenario was. So I interned at two different firms during the summer breaks, where I learnt the tricks and trades of a project manager while working during the construction and excavation for the basement of a residential building. I was amazed to experience the pragmatic approach, that was taken, when working on the site. To get a deeper insight, I took up a job as a Junior Engineer after the completion of my UG program. This helped me discover the major problems in construction process to be the poor quality control, project delays and improper contract management. Moreover, I found that proper safety measures are not taken into consideration because contractors wanted to cut short the whole cost resulting in a lot of mishaps. These aspects of construction are pushing me to research and economise the whole process with improved efficiency. I also completed courses pertaining to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and also learnt to use a few Project Management software like Primavera and MS Project. But to quench my thirst for wisdom, I strongly believe pursuing masters in construction engineering management would be the best for me, which would enable me to keep in pace with the advancements in this field and also contribute to it in a suitable manner.
While going through the subject of building materials I realized that use of wood in construction should be minimized as wood is a finite source. This was something that I could put my focus on. As an alternative, I found Wood-Plastic composites to be most condign option. It served the purpose of recycling plastic and was very efficient both cost and strength wise but had a very sporadic use in India. So, I decided to carry out a research based project on Wood Plastic Composites (WPC) which has a larger usage in the US and other developed countries comparatively. My project was amongst the best and I was called to lecture a large audience on WPC. During my undergraduate course, I carried out an extensive survey project that included surveying and proposing plans of aligning a highway, restoring an old tank and designing a water supply and sanitation system. The method taught was too conventional and trivial. It was then I realized how below par our country was in this field of advancement. This instigated in me the need for a global degree and made me realize US to be the obvious choice.
I soon found VIRGINIA TECH to be a well renowned university which provides quality education and is supported by its excellent staff and research facilities, thus making it an obvious choice to me. My research lies in the field of occupational hazards and safety measures and project control & estimation and it would be an honour for me to work with Prof. Jesus M. de la Garza and Prof. Deborah E. Dickerson, whose research interests mirror mine. Moreover I am mesmerised to learn about the facilities provided by the FOAL, RAAMAC, CHAMPS & OCHRE laboratories and just the very thought of working in them excites and inspires me.
I am hardworking, dedicated and keen on turning every obstacle that comes my way into a chance to learn something new. As the saying goes, "smooth oceans do not make skilful sailors"- I believe that with the help of the elite faculty at VIRGINIA TECH, I would be able to pitch in to my field of interest and also delve in the direction of advancement and economization of conventional construction, turning my dreams to actuality.