Father’s fearless approach inspired engineer’s career path
By Debra Werner|March 2020
Gaurav Bhatia, 34, principal engineer at Hughes Network Systems
As a boy in India, Gaurav Bhatia was inspired to pursue engineering by his father, Ajay Kumar Bhatia, a metallurgical engineer, who read the encyclopedia with him, patiently explaining scientific and technical concepts. When his father brought work home and on Bring Your Child to Work days, Gaurav got a glimpse of his father’s work creating lightweight, corrosion-resistant materials for Indian Space Research Organization launch vehicles. Gaurav Bhatia attended college in his hometown of Hyderabad, India, before earning a master’s degree. Bhatia now helps develop satellite modems for Hughes Network Systems in Maryland.
Landing a job
As a metallurgical engineer, my father had to overcome many challenges throughout his career. His achievements and fearless approach to solving difficult problems instilled in me a passion for engineering. For example, my father developed alloys that combine titanium with other chemical elements for the cryogenic engines and payloads of Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle missions like Chandrayaan [India’s first lunar probe]. I received my bachelor’s degree in electronics and communication engineering from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University and went on to pursue my master’s degree. During the final semester at Villanova University, I was hired by Hughes Network Systems in Maryland during the College Career Fair.
From design to verification and testing
I am a firmware lead engineer in the Satellite Communications Modem design team at Hughes, where I work on FPGA/SOC [field-programmable gate arrays/system on a chip]-based hardware platforms to develop the next-generation high-throughput satellite modems. I contribute to the design by applying concepts from digital communications and signal processing, forward error correction coding and computer architecture. The day-to-day work involves using software tools and programming languages to verify these modems work as intended. I work closely with team members to evaluate new ideas, implementation detail and testing strategies. I also mentor junior members of our team. The modems my team develops power satellite communications for people and businesses around the world.
Space in 2050
Since data consumption is increasing worldwide, satellite internet will play an even bigger role in bringing high-speed connectivity to the unconnected and will become a more viable alternative for those in cities and suburbs. The aviation industry will also become a big source of growth for this market. With so many companies and countries setting aggressive goals for space exploration, a new space race has begun. By 2050, I expect some humans to be permanently living on the moon and at least a few to have touched down on Mars. While the technical challenges for this space exploration are tremendous, it opens doors to businesses. Take the internet; it is such a big part of our lives now that I imagine any human inhabitants of these planets or moons would like to be tethered socially and emotionally to Mother Earth. The trunking of data between Earth and these planets is a business opportunity in itself.