“I am Passionately in love with my work”
INTERVIEW WITH DR HARDARSHAN SINGH VALIA
Dr. Hardarshan Singh Valia, a Coal Scientist has the distinction of the only Coal Scientist in the world to have received all the three awards offered by American Steel Industry related organizations. Dr. Valia has published 85 articles, contributed to 5 books (including Making, Shaping, and Treating of Steel), chaired 30 National/International conferences, taught 20 courses worldwide, authored two patents and consulted many industries around the world. After retiring as a Staff Scientist from ArcelorMittal started his own consulting firm Coal Science Inc. and also jointly owns Coal science Laboratory in Gary, Indiana. Dr. Valia received his Masters in Applied Geology from Nagpur University and Masters in Geology from Bryn Mawr College and Ph.D.in Geology from Boston University. He speaks to India Empire’s Assistant Editor, Misha Singh about his accomplishments
How does it feel to be the only coal scientist in the world to be honoured with three prestigious awards?
Humbled to the core because I do realize the fact – as quoted by Guru Gobind Singh:
Inhi Ki Kripa Se Saje Hum Hain
(I am decorated because of Their Blessings)
Mose Garib Karod Pade
(Millions, poor like me, exist in the world)
Their – in this context refers to Father, Mother, Teacher, and the Force within; My three articles, attached herewith, shed some light on who I am and give insight in to some of the reasons that keep me grounded!
You have received the Iron & Steel Society’s Joseph Becker Award, Joseph Kapitan Award and American Iron & Institute Medal. Which of the three is the most special to you?
Iron & Steel Society (now called AIST) Joseph Becker Award – Because the pioneers in my fields were awarded with this award. Dr. C. Otto, the inventor of Otto Coke Plants, and K.F.P. Still, the originator of by-product distillation from coke plants, whose pioneering work has been used extensively in the development of Indian Steel Industry. Both received the award in 1965 and 1975 respectively.
Dr. Homer H. Lowry from U.S. Bureau of Mines, whose book “Chemistry of Coal Utilization,” is a Bible for all Coal Technologist and has been my guiding light through the corridors of Coal Science pathways. Dr Lowry had received award in 1970.
Dr. T. Miyazu, whose coal blend design diagram is used by every student of coke making, had received this award in 1983.
I had put them on pedestal because they helped nurture my professional dreams into reality. Hence, this award has a great humbling experience for me.
Where did you draw the inspiration to become a coal scientist?
I did my Primary and Middle school education in Chindwara, Madhya Pradesh. My father, as a train ticket collector, would go on his trips to Parasia (which is a part of the coal belt of M.P). He would tell me stories about his interactions with coal people. As a teenager, I had taken a train journey with him to Parasia and that experience resided in one corner of my mind. However, the mountains around Chindwara ignited the sparks of a love affair with Geology. During college years at Nagpur University, I opted for Ph.D. program on Kamptee Coal field. Soon afterward, I left for USA (September 1969) for higher studies.
You have worked with one of the largest steel and mining company, ArcelorMittal and after retiring started your own consulting firm, Coal Science Inc. and also jointly own Coal science Laboratory in Gary, Indiana. Tell us about your journey.
After getting Ph.D. in Geology from Boston University, I joined Inland Steel Company, East Chicago, IN, 1979, as an Engineer in the Research and Development Department. I worked in Iron Making Division doing research on coal carbonization. In an integrated Steel Plant, Coke is used in the production of Iron. Inland Steel was the first American Steel Company that Mr Mittal bought in 1998. I retired from Arcelor Mittal as Staff Scientist in 2002 and opened my own consultancy firm called Coal Science Inc.