Published: 31st May 2017
Once a small town boy who struggled to finance his education, this proud 'Manipalite' professor is working on his dream project - A high-tech mobile school
From coordinating fests to supervising several projects at once, simpler-than-normal Professor Nithesh Nayak is flourishing at Manipal University and is helping everyone around him flourish too.
Education opens doors to opportunities — this continues to be the quintessential dream of India, especially the rural areas. One such dream was nurtured by Nithesh Nayak, who is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing, Manipal University. The journey from Ullal, a village in Mangaluru, to Manipal may seem like a short one kilometre-wise, but for the 30-year-old, this journey moulded him into who he is.
Self-financed: Nayak worked as a designer for 2 years to pursue his bachelor's
Despite being academically proficient and a topper in his class X public exams, due to financial constraints, Nayak couldn’t afford higher education and he had to kiss his dream of going abroad goodbye, unlike some of his distant relatives. But he continued to live vicariously through the verbal pictures they painted of their experiences, and it enticed him to continue down the path of education. “It motivated me,” he says, humbly.
Beyond the border: Nayak had guided many International students in their projects
In order to self-finance his bachelor’s, Nayak worked as a designer for two years. He pursued his master’s at the Manipal University, first as a student, then as a faculty in. Nayak, who calls himself a proud Manipalite, is indeed passionate about teaching. “The society has given me everything. Now it’s time for me to give back to the society,” he says, striving to inculcate the same in his students. Nayak has acted as a guide to international students in their projects, along with being a relentless supporter of ingrown projects as well. Take for example the use of the UAV (Unmanned Ariel Vehicle) and UGV (Unmanned Ground Vehicle) cooperation, not only for landmine detection, but its retrieval and disposal as well. “The UAV uses infrared imaging techniques to revert the signal when it detects a landmine,” explains Nayak, who is currently supervising the building of the prototype.
I am the first engineer in my family and I believe that education is all about teaching children concepts that they can apply in real life
Nithesh Nayak, Assistant Professor, MU
He works closely with all the projects, sometimes even writing emails to companies to procure funds. Nayak talks about the proposal he sent to Volvo and other such companies for his ‘dream project’ Mobile School, where a vehicle will be converted into a mini school, equipped with charts, boards and the like. “I plan to go with my students to nearby villages and educate the youth around,” he says.
His endeavours are so passionate that it’s contagious. Even the students who work with him don’t mind going the extra mile, “some even stay back to work with me during their vacation,” he gushes. But Nayak’s responsibilities don’t end here. He is also a member of the Cultural Coordination Committee at the university, therefore, has a significant role to play in the national-level fests like TechTatva. As a member of the anti-ragging squad and rated as the Best Teacher/Guardian by the students, Nayak dons many hats and wears them all very well.
Teaching might not be very lucrative, but for Nayak, it’s just right. “I need money to look after the needs of my family and myself. My demands are minimal and the low cost of living in Manipal brings my expenses down. In fact, I feel I have more than I need,” Nayak signs off humbly.