Headline June 23, 2019/ '' 'KAPPANNA'S -VOLKSWAGEN- KILIMANJARO' ''



STUDENT HERMANTH KAPPANNA is now back in India after 17 years in the United States. He  was laid off by General Motors.

Student Kappanna's role as Hero in bringing the Volkswagen scandal to light did not protect him  when his supervisor called him into a conference room in Milford, Mich, this past winter. 

In 2013, he was part of a small team engineering students whose research helped expose  Volkswagen's decade long conspiracy to lie about the diesel cars' emissions.

Today, two former Volkswagen executives are serving prison terms in the United States for their roles in trying to cover up the emissions fraud.

Martin Winterkorn, Volkswagen's former chief executive, faces criminal charges in the United States  and Germany for his alleged role in the scheme. He has denied wrongdoing.

The German maker has paid $23 billion so far to resolve criminal charges and lawsuits in United States, and $33 billion over all.

Mr. Kappanna was a graduate student when he got involved in a ''Mad Max'' sort of experiment on Volkswagen

Hemwas studying at West Virginia University in Morgantown, which is known for its research on auto emissions, when-

When the director of program asked him  to complete a grant application from the International Council on Clean Transportation.

The council, a nonprofit group, wanted to test the emissions of German Diesel cars sold in America. Mr. Kappanna was pursuing a doctorate, and his proposal helped the university win a modest $70,000 grant.

The university planned a real-time test emissions, and it rigged up an ingenious way to scrutinize the exhaust under open-road conditions.

The standard practice was to test cars in specially equipped garages, which is much easier than trying to analyze fumes from a moving vehicle.

Mr. Kappanna and two other graduate students, Marc Besch from Switzerland and Arvind Thiruvengadam from India, were chosen to do the field work.

They bolted portable emissions-testing equipment to a sheet of plywood and crammed it into the back of Volkswagen diesel station wagon.

The rig, powered by a portable gasoline generator, was noisy and smelly, but with every mile, it  churned out data that challenged sticker-price assurances. The emissions were dirtier than anyone would have imagined.

Mr. Kappanna and his fellow students did not know it, but they were gathering evidence of a crime.

Volkswagen engineers had devised a so-called defeat device software that could recognize the standardized procedure used by regulators in testing labs. In the labs, the software dialed up a car's pollution controls.

But when officials were not looking or, more important, when the cars were being used by regular motorists, the software dialed down to save wear and tear on the fragile emissions-control  equipment.

VolksWagen never expected anyone, much less a group of graduate students, to test the cars on the highways and city streets.

In March 2014, Student Mark Besch presented the findings at a conference for emissions experts in San Diego.

Their paper did not directly accuse Volkswagen of wrongdoing . But the data it included raised red flags for officials with the California Air Resources Board and the Environmental Protection Agency  who were in the audience.

Mr. Kappanna is proud of his role in unmasking Volkswagen's wrongdoing, but he also wonders whether he was seen within G.M. as overly zealous about compliance and too friendly to regulators.

G.M.said recently that Mr. Kappanna's dismissal had not been ''related to any emissions compliance concerns or related issues .'' That he was not a United States citizen also played no role, G.M. said in an emailed statement.

The World Students Society thanks author Jack Ewing.

With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of the world. See Ya all on Facebook, prepare and register for Great Global Elections on - The World Students Society - [for every subject in the world] : wssciw.blogspot.com and Twitter-!E-WOW! - the Ecosystem 2011:

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