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50th Anniversary Alumni Visit

Reunites Professor Sir Eric Ash, Prof. Mike Wilson, Dr Geoff Childs and Rear Admiral Dr Ajay Sharma (Retired) Indian Navy

On 15th August 2017, we were delighted to welcome the two distinguished alumni, from our Microwave Electronics MSc-1967 for a tour of the department. Dr Ajay Sharma and Dr Geoff Childs, who were fellow students 50 years ago and have remained lifelong friends, were delighted to join their academic mentors and supervisors, Professor Sir Eric Ash (Head of Department then) and Professor Emeritus Mike Wilson for the tour. During their visit, the group took photos in the newly refurbished Sir Eric Ash room, a laboratory for students to undertake their project work.

Dr Sharma, the sole technical Admiral of Indian Navy, gained his Doctorate at UCL in 1969 supervised by Professor Sir Eric Ash. On his return to India, he rapidly rose through the ranks of the Indian Navy to become Commander by mid 1970s and Rear Admiral by the late 1980s. Subsequently he was appointed Director and Dean of the Institute of Armament Technology, Pune, a post graduate institute of Defence Research and Development Organisation, where he reported to Late Dr A P J Abdul Kallam (then scientific adviser to Defence Minister and later President of India). For his 34 years distinguished service in the Indian Navy, he was awarded Ati Vishisht Seva Medal ( second highest peace award ) by the President of India. Following his retirement from the Navy in the mid1990s, Dr. Sharma became was the founder Director of an engineering college and later became Director General of six engineering colleges close to Delhi, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, until his final retirement in the early years of the 21st century.

childs.jpgDr Childs (pictured on the right holding his direction coupler, which he developed during his MSc project in 1966/7) also completed his PhD at UCL, receiving his Doctorate in 1979. His first employment was with the English Electric Valve Company where he was placed in the engineering pool manufacturing Microwave Magnetrons (a range of types and applications, the largest being airport approach radar transmitting tubes producing 10MW pulse power!) In 1968 he moved to GPO Research at Dollis Hill and transferred with the unit to Martlesham in Suffolk. In the GPO (later Post Office Research, BT Research and today Adastral Technology Park) he worked on Microwave Waveguide Transmission, Viewdata Display Technology, Local Area Networks, PBX Switch Technology, Microelectronic Circuit Design, Computer Telephony Integration systems and Network Management Systems. In 1992 he resigned from BT and set up his own company offering IT consultancy services. His two largest contracts were with Scottish Power where he helped to set up a new telecommunications company and Hewlett Packard at their European Customer Care Centre in Amsterdam.

Both men have fond memories of their time in the department. During his M.Sc. course Geoff invented a novel device for microwave transmission systems and said he spent a very happy summer in a small lab on the roof of the UCL Electronic  and Electrical Engineering Building in 1967 measuring the device performance and writing his report. Dr Childs said “In 1966/7 during the UCL M.Sc. course I was privileged to receive wonderful lectures from luminaries such as the late Professor Emeritus H.E.M. Barlow, Professor E.A Ash (who was later knighted and went on to become Rector  of Imperial College London, serve on the board of BT and add many other great accomplishments), Dr. M.G.F. Wilson (now Professor Emeritus at UCL) and other first class lecturers.”

Following his visit, Dr Sharma said “I owes my rank of Admiral to Sir Eric Ash and UCL" and conveyed his heartfelt thanks for making the visit to UCL memorable. "It will remain etched in our memory like our time spent at UCL 1966 to 1969 has been. Your staff have gone out of the way in organising the event, visit to the Labs and providing us the opportunity to meet our supervisors" he said.

Within the department, we are always pleased to hear from our alumni and encourage alumni to sign up to our departmental e-newsletter and to join our UCL EEE LinkedIn group. Recently, an excellent new online UCL Alumni Community platform has also been launched to help alumni connect with each other and with their old departments.