IT Bombay Faculty Visit Houston Universities & Companies
by Pradeep Anand, October 2015
Prof. Prasanna Mujumdar, Deputy Director (Finance & External Affairs) and Prof. Ravi Sinha, Dean Alumni and Corporate Relations, of the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT Bombay), visited Houston briefly.
During that short period, they met with faculty and administrators of Rice University and the University of Houston, and executives at Halliburton’s Landmark Graphics. They were also hosted by IIT Bombay alumnus Ramesh Maini, CEO of Zentech, at the firm’s office. Moreover, some members of IIT Alumni of Greater Houston met these distinguished faculty.
IIT alumni, Dr. Satyam Priyadarshi and Dr. Ashwani Dev, took the lead at Halliburton’s Landmark Graphics business unit, where the faculty learned about Landmark’s state-of-the-art software solutions and their applications in successfully finding and producing oil and gas, worldwide.
Later, the visiting faculty had a series of meetings with Rice University’s engineering faculty, who were impressed that IIT Bombay had over 600 fulltime faculty and over 6000 graduate students, including 3000 doctoral students. Rice University has several graduate students from IIT Bombay. The two institutions agreed to build on the existing relationship of student exchange to one of faculty exchange and research collaboration. Mr. Sonny Lim, from President David Leebron’s office played a key role in facilitating the meetings and the outcomes.
Separately, Profs. Majumdar and Sinha met faculty from University of Houston’s College of Technology—Dr. William Fitzgibbons (Dean, College of Technology), Prof. Ray Cline (Chair of the Department of Information and Logistics Technology and University of Houston Energy Fellow) and Prof. Rupa Iyer (Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies of the College of Technology). After an exchange of capabilities and a discussion of potential opportunities, Dr. Iyer was appointed as liaison to IIT Bombay to explore mutual opportunities in applied sciences and engineering, including digital design.
At Zentech, Dr. Maini, accompanied by Sundy Srinivasan, provided a brief overview of Zentech but the overarching theme of the discussion was about how Dr. Maini could help IIT Bombay for having given him such a superior education that allowed him to scale unimaginable heights.
Dr. Maini recounted his journey from rural Punjab to IIT Bombay to Canada to Houston to Europe and finally back to Houston. He said that this phenomenal professional journey would not have been possible without the world-class education he received in the 1960s at IIT Bombay.
Zentech has offices in India. He took the lead and suggested ways in which the firm and institution could collaborate. He also indicated interest in supporting students through scholarships, so that bright but economically disadvantaged students could also get a boost and soar in their lives.
Later, Profs. Sinha and Mujumdar had a relaxed dinner with a few IITAGH members. They too are undergraduate alumni of IIT Bombay. Professional discussions gave way to conversations that centered on common memories and familiar situations that stretched over a period of about forty-five years and multiple campuses—from Mumbai to Chennai to Delhi to Kharagpur to Kanpur to Roorkee.
Visits by IIT faculty are always invigorating. Often, because of our proximity to India and Indians, we develop myopia and we misjudge the progress that the country has made so swiftly.
These visits are eye-openers that make our chest swell with pride, when see and hear that our alma maters are better today than they were when we were students there. They are the champions of change and progress that India’s founding fathers envisioned, except they now perform on a global stage.
Pradeep Anand is President of Seeta Resources (www.seeta.com). He is an alumnus of IIT Bombay and the University of Houston, and an Adjunct Faculty member at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business.