Naresh Sharma Ph.D. 1991-1996
DELFT HAS MADE ME INTO A PRAGMATIST
Professor Torenbeek wrote the book “Synthesis of Subsonic Airplane Design”, the bible of aircraft design. I used his book in India to design a small airplane called Hansa. Professor Torenbeek heard about my work and invited me to come to Delft to join his Aircraft Design group and do a Ph.D.
My original intention was to develop a design system using Artificial Intelligence for airplanes. But I soon realized that a good design system can be used for any technological design exercise and that it required, in addition to aircraft design, a significant understanding of Computer Sciences. It took some more time to realize that my work could be applied to any type of design exercise.
Pie in the sky
Back in those days software was in its infancy. Professor Waltraud Gerhardt of the Faculty of Information Systems thought my ideas of Artificial Intelligence were all pie in the sky, but she did give me the chance to develop them. For two years, I collaborated with her faculty of Information Systems, working on the design of design systems. My research contributed to the opening up of the subject of Aerospace Design Automation.
I also wrote papers, and presented them to the engineering community at the AIAA (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics). Too few people published at that time, which was a shame. Your research group would receive funds for each publication, so if you published, you actually paid your own way. Moreover, when you publish and present papers at conferences, you get feedback from peers, which often is more valuable than the process of paper presentation. My publications also led to my being session chair at the SAE/AIAA World Aviation Congress in Los Angeles between 1995 and 1997.
In 1991 I assembled my first computer. It cost me two months salary and even then I could only afford the components. I couldn’t afford an operating system. Somebody offered me a copy of Windows 3.1, but I refused. Instead, I started working with a group of Linux developers. Linux is open source. Over the years, I learned about kernels and about operating systems. After my Ph.D., I started a small computer firm, worked as the Chief Technologist at Ordina, as a principal at NESBIC a Venture Capital fund, and did two startup companies in software.
So for years I did nothing with my doctorate in Aeronautical Engineering. The aviation job market was not good at the time; Fokker had collapsed. There was only a demand for space engineers, specialists in the physics of space travel. But my Ph.D. gave me a fantastic background, which helped me in my future work.
I had a great time in Delft. TU Delft was a freethinking environment, supporting unencumbered independent research. It was a turning point in my life. Though in some respects it was hard; some people felt threatened by my publications. My peers did not really understand computer science. I believe you should have the flexibility to do multidisciplinary research. I also enjoyed living in a rich, clean country like the Netherlands.
Having said that, the quality of education in India is very high. The level of the basic degree is higher there. The students I taught at TU Delft were not quite up to the mark, which is a shame. In that respect, TU Delft could make itself even more exceptional. The facilities for research are excellent, they compare with Industry. As for infrastructure and the quality of researchers, TU Delft is right up there with universities as MIT, Stanford etc.
Eventually, I returned to Aerospace design. I now want to design and build my own airplane and fly it around the world. For this reason I have started NASHERO, my own small aerospace company. I had to invest my own money. Venture capitalists were not interested; “selling beans will make you more money than small aircraft,” they say. I am currently working on the prototype which should be ready very shortly.
My design is a light sport aircraft (LSA), which consumes less than a Toyota Prius on a per seat per mile basis for two seats, plus you can carry two bicycles in it. Quite the ecological solution. I also use VOC -free, state-of-the-art composites initially developed at Delft. This means there will be no emissions during production: epoxy in liquid form has a high level of pollution. I have optimized a process of vacuum infusion of epoxy which is not much used in production processes. The epoxy is injected into the carbon in a closed environment; the reaction is contained in a plastic bag
My workshop here in Italy used to be a fish storage space. I had to hire people to install the hydraulic pressure lines and the electricity, even though I am an engineer myself. Those were the regulations. I had designed fixtures out of metal weighing between 400 and 1000 kilo, so I had to weld for the first time in my life. This greatly amused the installers: they had never seen an engineer weld or work.
Doing a Ph.D. gives you the chance to experience a process of independent research which you can apply to any problem you encounter in life. The freedom of deep research that Delft offered me was great for my development. You need to understand what you are not aware of. A Ph.D. allows you to realize that the more you know, you realize that there is even more to know (“the more you know, the less you know”). You have to investigate deep enough to find a solution.
State of the Art Light Aircraft Startup Picks FEA Software Innovator NEi Software
Casalmaggiore (CR), ITALY-- (APRIL 18, 2010) NASHERO s.r.l., a highly innovative state of the art light aircraft startup company has chosen NEi Nastran after extensively reviewing current engineering simulation software products offered in the marketplace. The review process included computational resource requirements, flexibility and ease of interoperating with a variety of CAD systems, the depth of knowledge of the Software package development team, and the rapid pace of the simulation product development. NASHERO also evaluated the quality of liaison with the sales, marketing and support teams of various vendors. NEi Software came out on top in all of these categories.
The FEA software suite purchased from NEi Software will allow NASHERO to perform engineering simulation during the development of its highly efficient aircraft while also providing simulation services for its engineering and design services clients. The NEi Explicit program from NEi Software will be used for dynamic, impact and crash simulations.
NEi Software has thus become a keystone sponsor for NASHERO’s product line. According to Naresh Sharma, Ph.D., CEO of NASHERO: “These simulations will cover full static, dynamic, structural, thermal, and aeroelastic analyses resulting in both time and resources saving, reducing waste, and enabling safer and green design for our product line. We are delighted to have NEi Software as a sponsor of our new aircraft development program,” said Dr. Sharma.
Using extreme precision and patent pending technology and products, NASHERO s.r.l. is developing light aircraft for the future. The first of these are safe, sleek, spacious, intuitively easy and fun to fly aircraft fully meeting the ASTM/FAA Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) standards. NASHERO has earned many sponsors; two major ones are NEi Software and the region of Lombardy in the north of Italy which hosts the NASHERO facility. NASHERO’s CEO is an active participant in the ASTM F37 rule making committee developing the LSA norms.
About NEi Software
NEi Software is a global provider of Nastran Finite Element Analysis (FEA), engineering simulation, and virtual test software. Engineers gain insight with digital prototypes, images, contour plots, graphs, and animations of linear and nonlinear structural stress, deformation, dynamics, vibration, kinematics, impact, heat transfer and fluid dynamic (CFD) simulations. The website features case studies in aerospace, automotive, maritime, petroleum, medical, and consumer products with demonstration videos, webinars, tutorials, and training schedules.