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Dr. Jagannathan Iyengar (MT-EE, ’76 ), Professor of Computer Information Systems in the University System of North Carolina (NCCU)

DURHAM, NC – Dr. Jagannathan Iyengar, professor of computer information systems in the University System of North Carolina (NCCU) during fall and spring semesters, spends his summers working for NASA.  With two separate doctoral degrees in business administration and electrical engineering, Iyengar is part of a multi-disciplinary team working to develop satellites that will collect, analyze, interact, and decide about phenomena in deep space without waiting for direction from Houston.

Iyengar and his colleagues in the Advanced Automation Architecture Division of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center have been working on the project since the summer of 2001.  When the intense, face-to-face collaboration of the summer is over, the team continues to meet weekly via video-conferencing throughout the standard academic year.   

“In the exploration of Mars or Venus, future satellites will require the intelligence to respond to immediate threats posed by unforeseen atmospheric conditions or oncoming debris without waiting hours for instructions from Earth,” says Iyengar.

In a scenario worthy of an episode of Star Trek, Iyengar says NASA is planning to send up thousands of small, specialized “worker” satellites that will interact with 100 or more orbiting “supervisors” which in turn, will synthesize information and communicate with one of several, large, “queen” machines.  The independence of this complex hive mind will depend upon the development of artificial intelligence that has the capacity for prediction, decision-making, and initiative.   A further challenge — all this functionality must be accommodated with impossibly small hardware.   

“The intelligent software agent makes all this possible,” says Iyengar.  “My role is to model and visualize the intelligent agent, particularly the process of interaction from agent to agent and from agent to human.”  Iyengar defines these intelligent agents as sets of goal-directed operations that function with some degree of autonomy, persistence, and reactivity.  

The team’s primary challenge is to balance the autonomy, intelligence, and mobility of the software.  These three features are interdependent and when one is enhanced, the others are compromised.  For example, highly autonomous software may be less mobile — able to search for networks, and collect and deliver data.

Iyengar’s first research proposal submitted and accepted by the NASA Langley Research Center in the summer of 2000was to develop computer modeling of safety and risk in adverse weather conditions for aircraft with the new blended wing body design.  Arriving at an airport near you in the very near future will be aircraft with wings and fuselage fused into a single unit and passengers seated throughout.

Iyengar’s diverse career is an expression of a diverse educational background.  He has earned bachelor’s in electrical engineering from Annamalai University (India) and Masters in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (India). Dr. Iyengar also earned post graduate diplomas in Electrical Engineering from Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore (India) and Indian Institute of technology Delhi, (India). In business administration, he holds a master’s degree from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (India), as well a master’s of business information systems and doctorate degree in business administration with a major in Information Systems and Decision Sciences from Georgia State University.   

Dr. Iyengar resides in Madison, Wisconsin since 2000,  Dr. Iyengar has his immediate family living in Madison  and they include his wife Jay (who is a book seller at barnes & Noble), his son Jayanth J.  (who just graduated from Wash. U, Olin school of Business, Summa Cum Laude and joined Deloitte consulting Group in Chicago), and his daughter Janani (who is a Junior at Wash U in Arts Sciences, who aspires to study governmental Law). 

Dr. J. Iyengar is an avid reader and also practices Yoga and hiking.  He also plays tennis, badminton, and table tennis.  Dr. Iyengar does Yoga (his own way—of course BKS Iyengar’s Yoga). He volunteers to teach Yoga and also those who need help in Mathematics—Algebra, Trigonometry, and of course Newtonian calculus.  

Dr. Iyengar is a life time member of Decision Sciences Institute (DSI) where he usually speaks during every annual meeting.  He is also a life member of  American Society of Competitiveness (ASC) and he usually speaks at their Annual meetings regularly. He is also a member of International Academy of Business disciplines (IABD) and speaks regularly at their Annual Meetings.

Dr. Iyengar holds lifetime honor society memberships,  Beta Gamma Sigma , Alpha Iota Delta, and Upsilon Pi Epsilon  since  1983. Dr. Iyengar has 18 years of academic teaching experience at Universities in  USA.  Dr. Iyengar also worked in IT industry in USA at Georgia Natural gas/Atlanta gas Light Company for 7 years as their Technical Specialist, and senior Business Systems Analyst.  

He may be reached for comment at drj.iyengar@gmail.com.