Exploring Innovative Solutions to Societal Challenges, with Prof Saurabh Sinha – Ep #25

What does it take to bridge the gap between real-world societal challenges and the academic world? If you had your way, how would you unite the academic with pragmatic? This week, Mark sits down with the University of Johannesburg’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research and Internationalisation, Prof Saurabh Sinha.

Saurabh obtained his Bachelor of Engineering, Master of Engineering and PhD degrees in Electronic Engineering from the University of Pretoria (UP). As a published researcher, he has authored over 100 publications in peer-reviewed journals and at international conferences. Saurabh is also the Managing Editor of the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers (SAIEE) Africa Research Journal.

Saurabh was awarded the 2007 SAIEE Engineer of the Year Award, 2010 University of Pretoria (UP) Laureate Award and 2013 TW Kambule NRF-NSTF Award as an emerging researcher for an outstanding contribution to Science, Engineering, Technology and Innovation (SETI) through research and its outputs. Beyond his academic contributions, Saurabh served as an industrial consultant for Business Enterprises at the University of Pretoria.

What You’ll Hear On This Episode of When Science Speaks

  • [1:05] Mark introduces his guest, Saurabh Sinha.
  • [3:00] What led Saurabh to his career in engineering?
  • [5:00] Saurabh talks about his volunteer work with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
  • [6:30] What is Saurabh working on right now?
  • [9:00] Saurabh explains how his work plays out in an urban environment like Johannesburg.
  • [12:00] How does the Postdoctoral program operate at the University of Johannesburg?
  • [14:30] The “Three-minute Thesis” and empowering students from rural environments.
  • [18:15] Saurabh’s advice for postdocs in engineering.
  • [21:30] How did Saurabh develop his leadership skill set?
  • [24:30] What are Saurabh’s professional goals for 2019?

Connect with Prof Saurabh Sinha

Resources & People Mentioned

Solutions for societal challenges

With the increased threat of global warming and other monumental societal challenges, the public often looks to the experts to find pragmatic solutions. However, tension remains between the world of academia and real-world concerns. Who will help bridge the gap? What programs and incentives will help everyday folks embrace solutions they’ve never thought of before?

Prof Saurabh Sinha is leading the charge to address this tension and pave a path forward so academia and everyday folks can work hand-in-hand toward practical solutions. In his work at the University of Johannesburg, Saurabh helps students with diverse backgrounds understand how to develop and then deliver solutions to issues such as water scarcity, economic stagnation, and more. We need more champions like Sinha who are committed to the work of bridging the gap between what is taught in the classroom and the real world.

Advice for postdocs

Part of the challenge with bridging the gap between academic solutions to real-world concerns is dealing with a communication barrier. Students and postdocs need to proactively seek out resources and training that equip them to concisely and effectively communicate their work. Thankfully, institutions like the University of Johannesburg have rolled out efforts like “Three-minute Thesis” to help them hone their messaging.

Saurabh wants his students and postdocs to focus on two specific areas as they pursue their career paths, innovation and impact. Have you ever considered resource constraints as a catalyst for innovation? Drawing on his work in engineering, Saurabh explains how a lack of resources forced him and his colleagues to innovate and create designs within their limitations that exceeded expectations. Imagine the long-term impact if more programs equipped their students and researchers with the skill set to squeeze innovation out of the toughest limitations.

Make the most of your opportunity to learn from Saurabh’s brilliant perspective by listening to his full conversation with Mark on this episode of When Science Speaks.

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