Dr. Vijay is the first one to use Iron slag, an industrial waste material, in building roads and runways. This is an achievement highly recognized by the Australian government and established him as an innovator. He was bestowed upon the highest Civilian award- “Order of Australia Medal” (OAM). Dr. Vijay paved his own way in life just as he paved the runways and roads.
Dr. Vijay’s professional career includes employers like Tata and Jacob Engineering,( for their prestigious projects) Reliance Petrochemicals, Rasayani, and Deepak Fertilizer, Taloja. He worked for a few years in Muscat, Oman. In New Zealand, he was involved in research for road building, and his recommendations were incorporated in specifications of New Zealand’s roads/highways building authority (National Roads Authority, New Zealand). In 1991, he applied for immigration in Australia and has been staying in Australia ever since.
Australia, year 1992. He was new in the country and went for his first job interview. He learnt that the company had come into existence just the previous day. The company was formed to explore how slag which is a waste by-product in steel-making could be effectively put into use. He asked the company’s General Manager, Peter Henley, “What do we do with slag?” The answer he got was, “You tell me”. The General Manager was appointed the previous day and hardly knew anything about slag. Anyway, long story short, Vijay was the only civil engineer being hired at Australian Steel Mill Services (ASMS) as a Product Development Engineer and was asked to find a use for slag. The challenge was the use of old stockpiles of slag (millions and millions of tons) and future incoming of two million tons of slag per year.
Dr. Vijay spent the next three years testing and analyzing the material in order to identify its properties. He started thinking ‘Outside the Square’ how these properties could be used in – Civil Engineering applications, particularly in construction of roads and airport runways. What transpired thereafter became known as a great engineering innovation of which Dr. Vijay was the father (originator) and which later earned him the highest civilian award in Australia.
Dr. Vijay started his job in this new company and started studying and experimenting with this product Iron slag. The Australian continent is rich with many minerals. Mining of Iron ore and other metal ores is the biggest industry in Australia. The waste product after the Iron smelting is called slag and the steel industry faced the problem of how to get rid of this waste. ASMS Company was formed to explore the use of slag. Vijay realized it’s potential. He was the first one in the world to realize that slag has potential for replacement of natural stones to build roads. He already had experience in building roads in New Zealand. He decided to build an experimental road in front of his company office using iron slag. That turned out to be a great success. The road was tested by making several trips of heavy duty trucks carrying the slag over it. The road held strong over a long period confirming Dr. Vijay’s theory was correct that it would. This was the beginning of a great saga.
Vijay was so thrilled by this success and felt so keenly interested in this product of Slag that he decided to do PhD in this subject. He also felt the need for extensive study of the product and experimentation. He approached Wollongong University, 70 Km south of Sydney and applied for admission for PhD course. The University officials told him that they do not have anybody who had done any research in this subject and so nobody could guide him. They dismissed him. He didn’t give up. He reasoned with them and said, “Let someone from a related field be my adviser and let him at least monitor, mentor, and guide me as to whether my approach is right and whether I am following the right steps, strategy and procedure.” Finally, after several discussions and deliberations they enrolled him as a student for doctorate degree course offering a renowned geotechnical expert Dr. Richard Arenicz as his adviser and guide. Vijay started his studies and research for a doctorate degree at the University of Wollongong’s Department of Civil and Mining Engineering. Also, he convinced them that since his work at his company was basically involving a lot of research on the product, he should be allowed to be a full-time employee as well as a full-time PhD student. University officials agreed to that too. However, Dr. Vijay was informed that his thesis would be assessed by an overseas expert. The PhD admission was done in consultation with the General Manager of his company. Initially, his company did not approve of him pursuing a PhD. His G.M. brought to his notice that a doctorate degree was not a requisite for the company job and the company wouldn’t offer Vijay any more remuneration just because of his PhD degree in a challenging topic. He gave Vijay the permission to pursue his higher degree without allowing any reduction in his working hours, and on a condition that the company would have all the rights to the results of his research. Vijay didn’t mind that; as he was happy to pursue the PhD as he had wished. This was second time he made his company as well as the university flex their rules to accommodate his call. This is how Vijay once again paved his own way on his own terms when none seemed possible.
Many countries like Japan, USA, and Thailand are using this technology. India is now interested in the technology developed by Dr. Vijay Joshi. Dr. Vijay is discussing and has met a number of times the honorable Central Government Minister Nitin Gadkari and Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis regarding the use of his technology in India.
Dr. Vijay’s innovation involved not only a resourceful use of a waste material destined for landfill, but Dr. Vijay claims that the quality of the roads was improved when slag was used along with asphalt. He says the roads constructed using this technology remain in good condition at least for 20 years and have reduced maintenance costs. Over the years, his technology using waste slag has saved 20 million tons of gravel, sand, and other natural construction materials.
Dr. Vijay’s expertise is so much in demand that he gets job offers from different companies even today. His voice once again jingled cheerily, “My friends ask me what I do nowadays; and I answer I switch jobs. Not for the money but where ‘out of square’ expertise can be shared.”