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Citations: 1998 Distinguished Alumnus Awards Recipients

Prof. K.R Rajagopal:

The Distinguished Alumnus Award for the year 1998 is being awarded to Professor K.R. Rajagopal for his outstanding contributions to theoretical modeling in the broad field of non-linear mechanics; especially for his brilliant use of mathematics in the elucidation of a variety of phenomena in the areas of non-Newtonian fluid mechanics, turbulence, large deformations of solids, viscoelasticity, electro and magnetorheology, mixtures, biomaterials, and shape memory alloys.

Professor Rajagopal earned a B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering from IIT Madras in 1973, an M.S. from IIT Chicago in 1974, and a Ph.D. in Mechanics from the University of Minnesota in 1978. In 1982, Prof. Rajagopal moved to the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh as the James T MacLeod Professor of Engineering, Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics and simultaneously became Professor of Surgery in the School of Medical and Health Sciences – an eloquent testimony to his extraordinary academic virtuosity. Since 1996, Prof. Rajagopal is the occupant of the prestigious Forsyth Chair in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Texas A & M University.

Professor Rajagopal has been a Visiting Professor Scientist at the Universite Pierre et Marie Curie in France, the Universita di Roma and the Universita di Ferrara in Italy, the Macromolecular Research Center at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and at the National Bureau of Standards in Maryland. He has been a Consultant for many organizations: the UNDP, the Morgantown Energy Technology Center, the Mathematics Research Center at the University of Wisconsin, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the Rhone-Poulenc, France.

He is currently on the Editorial Boards of nearly twenty journals: the Archives for Rational Mechanics and Analysis, the International Journal of Mathematics and Mathematical Sciences, and the International Journal of Engineering Analysis and Design, to name only a few. He is also the General Editor for MacMillan Texts in Mathematics and Physics, and is on the Editorial Board of the Birkhauser Series on Modelling and Simulation in Science, Engineering and Technology. Prof. Rajagopal was the recipient of the Board of Visitors Faculty Award of the University of Pittsburgh in 1987 and the President’s Distinguished Research award in 1991. He was the Chairman of the Society for Natural Philosophy and is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

“Always question authority” perhaps best describes Prof. Rajagopal’s approach to life and research. In research, this attitude combined with his great intellectual integrity, has paid rich dividends. He has dared to tackle unsolved problems that others shy away from, found new solutions to classical problems, and developed new theories in the face of contrary opinion. Professor Rajagopal has published over 200 refereed papers, written 3 books and edited 3 others. Nineteen students have received their Ph.D. degrees under his guidance. Indeed in awarding him the Distinguished Alumnus Award this year, IIT Madras honours itself.



Dr Desh Deshpande’s career is an eminent example of a leader’s self-confidence combined with creativity paying rich professional dividends.

Dr Deshpande graduated from IIT-Madras in 1973 with a B Tech in Electrical Engineering ; he obtained his Master’s degree from the University of New Brunswick in Canada, and then taught for sometime at the Queens University in Kingston, Canada, which also awarded him a Ph.D for his seminal work in the area of Data Communications.

With his ingenuity and penchant for hardwork, Dr Deshpande moved across senior management positions at Codex Corporation, a subsidiary of Motorola, and in eight years learnt his ropes for sailing in the rough seas of the business world and free-market economy. Though still in his thirties, he had acquired a rare blend of academic excellence with business experience and the courage to launch on his own. In 1988, Dr Deshpande co-founded the Coral Network Corporation, and left it in 1990 to start his own Cascade Communications Corporation.

Cascade Communications Corporation is a translation of reality into vision. Dr Deshpande had to replace the wide area network with a new public global access system. The Corporation began with no revenue and only one employee in 1991, but driven by the ambition of Dr Deshpande, it grew into a corporation of 900 people and an annual sales of $500 million. In 1997, within six years, Cascade became attractive enough to be taken over for more than three and a half billion US dollars.

Dr Deshpande has been the subject of several business and trade press articles. His vision, ambition and hard work have also got him several honours and awards. In 1995, Dr. Deshpande was judged to be the ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’, and in 1996 Communication Week listed him as one of the “Visionaries of the Industry” for his contribution to the growth and development of digital communication. The same year he was also named among the top 25 “Technology Drivers shaping the business style of the future”.

Creating jobs and wealth is only one aspect of Dr Deshpande’s achievements. He is a fine example for the motto of his Alma Mater – “siddhir bhawati karmajaa”.


S Gopala Krishnan:

Shri S Gopalakrishnan represents a generation of engineer-scientists who have made India a global player in software industry.

Shri Gopalakrishnan joined this Institute in 1975, and graduated four years later with an M Sc in Physics and an M Tech in Computer Science. He had the foresight to join the computer industry at a time when it was still nascent in India and thus be at a place which others would seek much later. In 1979, he started his career as a Software Engineer with the Patni Computer Systems and soon rose to be its Assistant Project Manager. He was responsible for developing the distributed process control system for the LD converter at the Rourkela Steel Plant.

After this formative experience, Shri Gopalakrishnan had a fair idea of the shape of things to come and of how a human resource-rich country like India could dominate software industry world-wide. In an act of supreme courage, Gopalakrishnan in 1981 left a career of success and endless pampering and perks for the uncharted waters of small-scale enterprise in an industry whose future then seemed rosy only in simulation.

That year, along with his friends, he launched the Infosys Technologies Ltd., and Kris, as he is called by his friends, assumed the responsibility in vital areas of design, development, implementation and support of information systems for clients in the consumer products industry in the United States of America. He was also instrumental in forming a joint venture, called KSA / Infosys with the KSA group of Atlanta, heading its operations division as Vice President.

In 1994 Shri Gopalakrishnan returned to India as the Deputy Managing Director of his company to head its software services and technology divisions. Never one to say no, his areas of active interest include operating systems, distributed computing and distributed software development. He is a member of the ACM, IEEE and IEEE Computer Society, and he frequently lectures in India and abroad on software quality and productivity.

It is the likes of Shri Gopalakrishnan who give India the precious reassurance that its investment in human resources are amply justified.


V Shyam Sundar:

Shri V Shyam Sunder belongs to that small distinguished class of techno-managers who have made public sector industrial units competitive even in a free market economy.

After graduating from this institute in 1969 with a first class BTech degree in Chemical Engineering, Shri Shyam Sunder went to the University of Leeds where in 1978 he obtained the Master’s degree in Management Studies. In 1981 he obtained his second Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Madras. Four years later, he also obtained a Diploma in Computer Management from the University of Bombay.

Shri Shyam Sunder’s professional career began in 1970 as a Management Trainee in the Indian Oil Corporation, and rising through Operations, Management Services, Shipping, Planning and LPG departments and various ranks of the public sector oil industry in India. He has been the Chairman & Managing Director of the Madras Refineries Ltd., since last year.

A member of several national and international bodies in oil industry, some of the major successes of Shri Shyam Sunder have been the formulation of the Kandla – Bhatinda Product Pipeline within cost limits, formulation of a highly profitable marketing strategy for his company, creation of Indian Additives Ltd, a joint venture between MRL and M/s Chevron Chemical Corporation Ltd of the USA., formulation of a marketing strategy for higher growth, publication for the first time of the First Corporate Plan of the Division, and completion of the petroleum gas bottling plants at Vijayawada and Calicut, to mention but a few.

Though widely travelled world-wide, Shri Shyam Sunder has preferred Indian public sector industry to other offers. This kind of loyalty to the company and to the country is rather unusual today, but it is this patriotic fervour that has made Shri Shyam Sunder the natural leader and spokesman of oil industry in India.