Dr APJ Abdul Kalam – An Inspirational Career Story of the Missile Man

Introduction :

Dr Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam or A.P.J Abdul Kalam was a man that needs no introductions. Known as the Missile Man of India, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam had been instrumental in the great scientific revolution that swept the nation during the 80’s. He was known popularly as the architect of the Indian Missile program and was responsible for the development of the Prithvi as well as Agni missiles. Dr Kalam successfully completed his tenure as perhaps the most popular President of the Republic of India, was widely referred to as the “People’s President”. And the whole nation mourned his demise on the 27th July, 2015. But Dr Kalam continues to be the inspiration of every young mind of the nation often with his demure status and simplicity he has won millions of hearts and minds.


  • Degree in Western Classical Music from Trinity college of Music


  • Hoover Medal in 2009
  • International von Kármán Wings Award
  • Padma Bhushan in 1981
  • Padma Vibhushan in 1990
  • Bharat Ratna in 1997

Career :

  • Dr. Kalam joined the Technical Centre (Civil Aviation) of the DTD&P (Air) as Senior Scientific Assistant
  • Dr Kalam worked with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). At ISRO he served in various capacities. Was made Project Director of the Mission for SLV-3. He played a crucial role in developing satellite launch vehicle technology and expertise in control, propulsion and aerodynamics. The SLV-3 project managed to put Rohini, a scientific satellite, into orbit in July 1980.
  • He joined the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in 1982. As Director of DRDO, Dr. Kalam was entrusted with the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP). As Chief Executive of Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP), he also played a major part in developing many missiles of India including Agni and Prithvi.
  • As Chairman of the Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC), also got involved with the creation of Technology Vision 2020 and the India Millennium Missions (IMM 2020), which is an integrated version of technology vision and India’s security concerns.
  •  In November 1999 Dr. Kalam was appointed as Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India.
  • He joined the Anna University at Chennai as Professor of Technology and Societal Transformation.
  • Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, was the 11th President of India, serving from 2002 to 2007,he was elected during the tenure of the National Democratic Alliance (India) coalition government, under prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. During his term as President, he was popularly known as the People’s President
  • Post his presidency Dr. Kalam became a visiting professor at the Indian Institute of Management Shillong, the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, and the Indian Institute of Management Indore; an honorary fellow of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore; chancellor of the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology Thiruvananthapuram; professor of Aerospace Engineering at Anna University; and an adjunct at many other academic and research institutions across India. He taught information technology at the International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad, and technology at Banaras Hindu University and Anna University.

Career in Science & Research

Ask a Career Counsellor

Be open to New Opportunities:

Dr Kalam’s greatest career decision was opting to go into the nascent field of Aeronautical Engineering at a time when there was little scope for such a career in India. Dr Kalam was open to this new and exciting career, understanding fully the potential this career offered.

Take Rejections as Opportunities:

Although known by everyone today, Dr Kalam always had a desire to be an Air force Pilot but didn’t get accepted by the Indian Air force. While a lesser human may have been dejected and treated this as a failure, Dr Kalam considered the alternative that was presented to him with a career as an Aeronautical Engineer and had one of the most illustrious careers as one of the stalwarts of Indian Missile Program as well as played significant role in the Indian Space Program.

Have A Vision:

Dr Kalam had a vision of a stronger India with more enlightened youth. His career revolved a full circle going back to being a teacher as he had started out years ago, enlightened the youth of the country and paved way for a brighter future. He had of course played significant role in making India Stronger in terms of military as well as scientific capability. Like many such successful people, it is important to have a vision, pick a cause or a goal that you want to work for all things else will simply fall in place.