Janagam born Srinivas Bonathu’s medium of instruction was Telugu until class 10, and it was only in Intermediate that he moved to English medium. “However, I never went to college fearing that I might be ridiculed. The principal gave me permission to study from home,” he says. When he got admission into IIT Chennai, Srinivas knew that his task was cut out. “I couldn’t ask doubts and people mocked me. The peer pressure made me drop out of college. My brother, Yakhil Chand, helped me improve my language and I rejoined BTech. Amidst several embarrassments, I not only completed my graduation, but post graduation (MTech) and was offered a Ph.D programme.”
His faculty members then encouraged him to apply for a research programme. He says, “Michigan University offered me a research programme in December, but I was apprehensive of the cold climate and turned it down.”
Soon, a professor at Michigan University recommended his name for a research programme in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). “They were impressed with my academic track record and offered me a fully funded Ph.D programme,” he says.
In the meantime, the University invited him for a conference MOOS-DAWG 2017 on ‘autonomous underwater vehicles’ which was held recently. “I was the only Indian there. It was insightful getting to meet eminent academicians, research scholars and industry experts,” says Srinivas.
Impressed with his ability, the University of New Orleans (in association with Florida Atlantic University and Virginia University), asked him to head a research project on how to convert kinetic energy into electric energy as a result of the rotation of underwater turbines under the sea. “I have been given the responsibility to execute the entire project, which is funded by the US government. It is a great and exciting opportunity for me. If the project is feasible, the US Government plans to start a Rs 1000 crore project on a large scale basis,” he says.