Meet Ravikanth Chittiprolu, alumnus of the 2007-2009 Masters batch in Structural Engineering. He currently runs his own group of companies, the Vyuha Group with a motto of “Sadhanath Sadhyathe Sarvam”, which is Telugu for ‘Everything is possible with efforts’. In an email interview, he talks about how he believes in entrepreneurship and is proud to call himself a IIIT-H product.
- Can you tell us about yourself and how you came to study at IIIT-H?
I hail from Devarakonda in Nalgonda District. While I did my schooling there, my intermediate (+2) education is from Nellore. For a degree in Civil Engineering, I moved to Hyderabad and completed it from VNR VJIET. It was while working as an Assistant Engineering Trainee at IVRCL infra Pvt Ltd after graduation, that I realised the significance of higher education especially in the field of Design. This motivated me to apply for and pursue a Masters in Structural Engineering from IIIT-H. Furthermore, I was confident that a renowned institute such as IIIT-H was the right place to learn proven processes and methodologies in the field which would help in establishing a strong foundation for my career.
- What courses and faculty inspired you on campus?
Today, I proudly introduce myself as a CASE (Computer Aided Structural Engineering) Alumni, Structural Engineer and Entrepreneur (not necessarily in that order!). I used to be a second-class student while studying for my Bachelor’s degree, whereas IIIT-H made me learn theories and concepts in a practical way and helped me to develop subject knowledge. The course programme also helped me plan and work on defined timelines, which I believe helped me achieve a 7 CGPA. Research in EERC (Earthquake Engineering Research Centre) enabled me to work at the industry level. I was also exposed to new technologies while working as a research assistant in EERC and this helped me select a research topic for a Ph.D. I say with pride that I am a product of Prof. Sri Ramancharla Pradeep kumar. His guidance and support influenced me a lot not only to work on course subjects but also on “ethics”. He is my ‘guru’ who helped me in establishing myself as an entrepreneur.
I was also assigned as a Teaching Assistant under Prof. Venkateshwarlu, from whom I learnt how to prepare for assignments and improved my teaching skills. With this experience, I am now able to run a private training centre for young engineers to teach them to handle practical problems, execution methods, management skills and guide them towards entrepreneurship.
- What is your favourite part of the IIIT-H experience?
EERC Lab was my favourite place where I spent most of my time. I am also attached to the bamboo pavilion in the Canteen which was constructed by me along with 4 other students over 2 months. It was special and it was my first experience working with bamboo. Besides this, my memorable moments are around the tea time chats with friends at cafeterias, while eating meals at Yukthahar and the campus environment itself as I got an opportunity to interact with talented people from diverse backgrounds.
- In what ways did your time at IIIT-H influence you?
My time as a researcher at IIIT-H has helped me in finding solutions to the problems in construction.Having worked as a coordinator for a short course on ‘Earthquake resistant design of structures’ at EERC, I got bitten by the teaching bug and till date I’m interested in teaching. At the time, a couple of us, research students had an opportunity to go to Shimla for a week and conduct a few tests. It was a great experience and that also influenced me to work in remote areas. While working with Prof. Pradeep Kumar on consulting services of State govt projects such as Rajiv Swagruha buildings, I was inspired and have similarly created a complete consulting service in my profession now. Personally, I have learnt about the importance of planning, teamwork and project management at IIIT-H, which I implement in my day-to-day business activities.
- Tell us about your career till date.
Thanks to CASE, I got inclined towards research. EERC gave me an opportunity to work as a research assistant for a year (2009-10). Later, I worked as a research associate for 2.5 yrs in Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). After I got married, I came back to Hyderabad and joined the PhD programme at IIIT-H. Due to some personal reasons, I had to stop my research after course work. To support my family home project, I undertook design and execution of my in-law’s house. This was my very first project in practice. I then started my own enterprise called Nilaya Architects, Structural Consultants and Constructions, which provides services in the fields of GHMC/HMDA permissions and constructions. While working in remote areas where there is no proper access to power and water, I got thinking about simplifying the process. And to do this, we adopted latest techniques and technologies such as Precast and Pre-Engineered Buildings (PEB). We are also official vendors to Central Govt organizations such as BSNL & ONGC, where my firm executed some of the key projects successfully earning appreciation. Coming from a research background, I am passionate about experimenting and innovating. So, we recently manufactured prestressed, precast compound wall components where we have developed in-house techniques to supply a high-quality product. Our focus is to provide an economic and fast deliverable product. Being passionate about entrepreneurship, I’ve trained myself to run multiple organizations in the fields of services, manufacturing and supply under a single umbrella called the Vyuha Group. To achieve my goals, my wife Keerthi Masna, who is Co-founder of the Vyuha Group, has joined to support me in the management of my group of companies.
- What words of advice would you offer other students interested in pursuing a career similar to your own?
I believe that a civil engineer is strong enough to create employment rather than working as an employee. Post-graduation in Structural Engineering will create more opportunities to get relevant licences, where it will help you to start your own firm. In addition to that, professional business trainings will enable you to run multiple organizations. So, I would suggest entrepreneurship for students after gaining a minimum experience in the field and practice. Come up with start-up ideas and strive to achieve them passionately. It’s okay to begin your career with a number of failures but make yourself strong enough to fight the challenges. Always invest in not just knowledge but in your own health too.