(To our great dismay, we were informed that Sasi Gade passed away in the summer of 2020.)
Not only did Gade manage to live his dream after graduating from H-BRS, he also started his own company in India in November 2010. As founder, CEO and director of Gade Autonomous Systems Private Limited, 30 year old Gade established the crowdsourcing and co-creating web portal Robolution.Me. His philosophy is to use technology to help people overcome their own limitations and to (re)-discover themselves, which ideally results in enhancing their professional and personal lives. One of his ideas involves using robots to perform positive reinforcement exercises in order to improve social interactions with patients. Gade programmed Robot Abhirami to speak, dance, and play flashcard games with children.
Visionary with a heart
Where does Gade get these ideas from and how has he managed to accomplish so much at his young age? During his Bachelor studies, Gade constantly kept himself informed about what was happening with robots. The Robocup World Championships was something that fascinated him the most. He discovered platforms like Sony AIBO, and thought that if robots can already play soccer, the next step could be to give robots “brain power” to approach daily human problems. Gade started researching universities worldwide which could offer him the possibility to learn how to execute such ideas. The USA was not an option due to high living costs there. He finally chose H-BRS because he got accepted into the first Master’s degree course dealing with autonomous systems in Germany, which is run by globally recognised robotics experts. Gade had a connection with the country as one of his cousins did his PhD here and some relatives have settled in Germany. Their advice from what clothes to buy here to what kitchen equipment to use meant a lot to him.
At H-BRS you are not alone
Gade not only had relatives in Germany, he also had Study Buddies. Study Buddies are senior H-BRS students who help new students: “Alex and Srikanth really helped me with the complex German bureaucracy. Frankly, I had never done so much paper work in my whole life (…) I did not speak fluent German at all, I had learnt only some basic survival words, so this really helped me.” Yet, everything in Germany was new for him. The culture, the weather, and the language and so Gade had to learn a lot from scratch. He remembers that it was lots of fun: “I made friends in no time; I met people from different countries, learnt about their cultures, cooked with them, taught them about Indian food and culture. It was a very good and new experience that has taught me new ways of living life.”
Additionally, the student hostel also proved to be a great place to live. There were regular evening tea and cookies time, parties or watching football games together. There was something going on all the time.
Being the youngest family member back home in India, he was used to being very attached to his family as everyone took care of him and pampered him. Here in Germany, however, he had to learn how to cook and clean all by himself, things he had never done before. Gade’s mother often says: "He went to Germany as a boy and returned as a man!”
Student life can teach you how to bounce back
Within the academic field, H-BRS was the place where Gade learnt how to conduct research, and he noticed the differences in the learning processes. He believes he owes his research career to the professors of H-BRS. One of them is Prof. Erwin Prassler: “He taught me how to do good research.” Gade is thankful to Prof. Paul Ploeger, who he learnt the application side of mathematical formulas and processes from. Prof. Gerhard Kraetzschmar (who died in 2019) supported Gade throughout the whole process of his studies: “He was always there for me whenever I felt lost or I needed guidance.”
Gade recalls his first ever oral exam at H-BRS, when during his first semester he had a one-to-one exam that lasted over half an hour. He received a mediocre grade and felt dejected: “I was really lost after that. I did not know how I forgot so many things in a span of 40 minutes. I should have failed that exam but due to my excellent performance in the homework, I survived. The professor was not at all happy with my performance in the exam.” Gade’s next exam made up for this scary experience: “I don’t know how he (the professor) knew it, but the first thing he did was ease my nerves by cracking some jokes. I scored a 1.3 in his exam and this provided a huge boost for me.”
During his studies, Gade also noticed that German students often studied for exams together in groups. After a while, he asked some peers and he was able to join their study group, which really helped him for future exams. His fellow students (Björn & Jörn) did not only study with him, but also introduced him to the German culture and invited him to their families’ homes: “Today I am really proud to have friends like them. We have become so close, just like family. I am also the culprit matchmaker who has introduced both of them to their present wives.”
The German way of doing things travelled all the way to India
Being a student at H-BRS not only meant making friends for life, it also made Gade learn about self-reliance and confidence, understanding different perspectives in decision making processes, as well as the German way of doing things. Especially the latter is something he applies daily when running his business in India. Gade Autonomous Systems Private Limited collaborates with companies in France, Germany and Switzerland. The company’s ideology is to introduce and promote the German way of researching.
In September 2015, he was able to meet a lot of his professors and class mates again in person. Gade is very thankful for the continuous support he receives even as an alumnus, and emphasises how much he misses his time spent in Germany.
Text by Marion Ender, former graduate assistant and meanwhile graduate of the Master course International Media Studies.