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ALUMNI NEWSMAKERS

Abhijit Majumdar MIT TR35 list
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
MIT's India TR35 2012 list of young technology innovators, along with Abhijit Majumder of IIT-Kanpur. Majumder (33) developed a highly innovative chemical adhesive that mimics some natural principles, according to a press release issued by the Indian edition of MIT Technology Review, now in its fourth year of publication. The India TR 35 programme started in 2010 and in the last two years, has identified 37 young innovators, the majority of them from small and medium-sized private research institutions. "It is heartening to see IITs solving unique Indian problems. This culture of innovation in public institutions will enthuse thousands of bright students pursuing technical programs," said Pradeep Gupta, publisher of Technology Review India and an alumnus of IIT Delhi. This year Technology Review India received over 250 nominations from all over the country. Over a period of three months, a panel of 23 expert judges identified 20 individuals who have developed technologies that are likely to benefit the society at large.
V K Mathews is new CII Kerala chairman
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
IBS Software Services executive chairman V K Mathews has been elected chairman of CII (Confederation of Indian Industry) Kerala State Council for 2012-13. Geojit Financial Management Services managing director C J George will be vice-chairman. Mathews has guided the IBS group from a modest beginning in 1997 into a multinational organization with over 2,000 employees operating from 10 locations worldwide. Equipped with a master's degree in Aeronautical Engineering from IIT Kanpur, Mathews holds several important positions in government agencies, academic institutions and trade bodies in India.
Ved Singh as VP of GENWI India
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
GENWI ( http://genwi.com ), the inventor and leader of live mobile publishing in the cloud, today announced that it has named Ved Singh, a veteran of Oracle Corporation's operations in India, its Vice President for the region. Including his 13-year career at Oracle in India, Ved brings over 15 years of technology operations, strategy, product development and delivery, and business development experience. GENWI has opened its Indian headquarters in Bangalore, India. The hiring comes on the heels of GENWI's recent partnership with the Times Internet Limited, a subsidiary of the Times of India -- one of the world's oldest and most respected publishing companies -- on the Tweek tablet app. Ved will help guide GENWI's relationship with the Times of India, as well as oversee the company's Indian operations and develop other opportunities for GENWI in both the Indian and Southeast Asian market. "We are very excited to have Ved on board," said PJ Gurumohan, CEO & Co-Founder of GENWI. "He has the perfect blend of engineering, product, and management experience to help GENWI become an early cloud computing leader in India and to build the infrastructure necessary to meet the demands of the highly mobile audience hungry for content from Indian media companies." Ved was the Director at Oracle's India Development Center, the company's prime research and development center in the region. Before joining Oracle, Ved was a senior software engineer at Tata Technologies. He holds a Masters in Technology from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur and an Executive M.B.A from the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore. He also received his Bachelor of Technology from G.B. Pant University of Agriculture and Technology. "GENWI's CloudPublish solution sits at the nexus of two important trends," said Ved Singh, VP of GENWI India. "While mobile access is exploding in India, online publishers are struggling with how to best deliver their content on mobile devices while capitalizing on new monetization opportunities. With GENWI's proven platform that delivers live, engaging content to millions of touch screen users, I am confident that we are well positioned to capture significant mind share among Southeast Asian online publishers. I'm looking forward to building the team in India and growing our market presence in this region." About GENWI GENWI (Generation Wireless) is the inventor and leader in live mobile publishing solutions, powered by the cloud. GENWI's CloudPublish(TM) suite helps online publishers and digital agencies to easily create, manage, brand, and distribute live content to smart phones and tablets -- delivering highly engaging and monetizable apps to millions of consumers. Today, there are over 1,500 apps powered by GENWI including Conde Naste, Moguldom Media, Times of India, Forbes, and PBS Kids. Founded in 2010, GENWI is a privately held firm based in Los Altos, CA. For more information, please visit http://www.genwi.com or follow us on Twitter @genwi.
Vijay Kumar: Amazing Story: Robots that fly.. and Cooperate
Monday, March 05, 2012
Prof Vijay Kumar (BT/ME/83) who is a UPS Foundation Professor, Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics and Computer and Information Science and Director, GRASP Laboratory at the School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Pennsylvania, presented an incredible & inspiring piece of work at TED 2012, it can be viewed at http://www.ted.com/talks/vijay_kumar_robots_that_fly_and_cooperate.html At the General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Lab, at the University of Pennsylvania, flying quadrotor robots move together in eerie formation, tightening themselves into perfect battalions, even filling in the gap when one of their own drops out. You might have seen viral videos of the quads zipping around the netting-draped GRASP Lab (they juggle! they fly through a hula hoop!). Vijay Kumar headed this lab from 1998-2004; he's now the Deputy Dean for Education in the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, where he continues his work in robotics, blending computer science and mechanical engineering to create the next generation of robotic wonders. What is brilliant about Professor Kumar's achievement is that he has synthesized ideas from a large number of areas - decentralized and adaptive control, motion planning, image and signal processing, electromechanical systems, mechanics, computer aided control, to name a few - to build something unique that displays the power of fundamentals driven engineering in its full glory. More details about him and his work can be read at: https://alliance.seas.upenn.edu/~kumar/wiki/index.php?n=Main.HomePage http://kumar.grasp.upenn.edu/ http://kumar.grasp.upenn.edu/CV.web.pdf
Mriganka Sur Reveals the Mysteries of The Brain
Friday, February 24, 2012
H ow is the brain wired? How does it code and decode information? What causes developmental disorders like autism and diseases like Alzheimer’s? These are the questions that have occupied neuroscientist Mriganka Sur over the past 30 years. By studying the connections in the brain—and by making connections in the lab through an interdisciplinary approach—he has transformed not only his own work, but neuroscience as well. It was in the late ’80s that Sur rose to fame when he ‘rewired’ the brain of a small animal, a ferret, at Yale University. In that experiment he showed, for the first time, that the brain is ‘plastic’. He demonstrated how the brain changes in response to the external environment even as it continues to develop. “That result was stunning; it beautifully combined physiology and behaviour and demonstrated his outstanding ability to hit the big questions without any fear,” says K. Vijayraghavan, director of the National Centre for Biological Sciences, who was Sur’s junior at IIT Kanpur. After finishing at IIT, Sur moved to MIT; he wanted to combine technology and science. At MIT, he ensured that other labs got interested in pursuing this goal. The result, in the 1990s, was the development of extensive toolkits that allowed researchers to image the brain at its barest: A single neuron. In the following decade, Sur and his team went on to resolve this further with even higher resolution imaging. They could now see a single neuron and all its processes, even at the level of a single synapse, in the living, intact brain. Now he’s shedding light on what happens if the brain gets “mis-wired”. The holistic understanding of plasticity has allowed Sur to bring a magnificent shift in how people study mental disorders. In 2009, he shot into fame again when he showed that it’s the immaturity of brain circuitry that causes Rett Syndrome, a subset of autism. A disease that is on the rise, autism ranges from mild communication difficulties to severe conditions, even mental retardation, and affects about one in 150 children anywhere in the world. Sur represents a new class of molecular neuroscientists who, equipped with a powerful understanding of the brain, are now applying that knowledge to diseases, says Sumantra Chattarji, a neuroscientist at NCBS, who studies Fragile X, a subset of autism. It’s strange that pharma companies never studied plasticity at its most basic. The result has been several failed trials and no breakthroughs in diseases like schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder and Alzheimer’s. “If you now look at what these companies are doing, they are hiring some of the people in the forefront of plasticity, be it Roche or Pfizer,” says Chattarji. Lest we start reading too much into this, Sur is quick to add that brain disorders, developmental disorders in particular, are complex; more so because children cannot be administered new drugs. His goal is to try existing drugs. Will the problem be solved anytime soon? He doesn’t think so. Will we make progress? You bet. “We already have begun to, given that there was nothing available until now,” says Sur. He is helping a group at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi to start a similar study in India where no data exists on the incidence of autism. In January, Sur stepped down as head of the department of brain and cognitive sciences at MIT to lead a new Simon’s Center for Social Brain at MIT that became possible with a $26 million grant in December. “We think that just as the brain has modules for vision, audition and action—which function seamlessly—there is a social module, one that mediates different components of social interactions.” Understanding what it is and how autism makes it go wrong is a very big frontier of neuroscience, says Sur. Sur has always sought new frontiers, even as a school boy. In Class XI at St. Joseph’s High School in Allahabad, when every student had to choose either the math or the biology stream, he decided to do both—he was the only student in the school to do so. Later, at IIT Kanpur, he studied electrical engineering as there wasn’t any life science course. But when he was doing his Ph.D at the University of Vanderbilt, in Nashville, Tennessee, he made sure he did his thesis research with somebody who studied the brain. “The American system allows you to do that,” he says. The ethos of interdisciplinary work that he picked up at Vanderbilt has been carried forward through his discovery-filled career. His philosophy: All interdisciplinary work first begins in the mind. “It’s possible to work in different subjects and link them all in the brain,” says Sur. That belief, he says, was inculcated in him in childhood, particularly by his mathematician grandfather, who worked in the education department in Allahabad. Over 30 years of active research, Sur has made several discoveries that link engineering, computation, imaging, molecular biology, genetics and a host of other disciplines. For example, the first computer that he programmed was a PDP-8 with 8 kilobytes of memory at Vanderbilt, for lab work. “I was the only one around who could analyse the data using principles of engineering,” he recalls. More than 30 years ago, Sur refused a job in India, the only one offered then, by the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. But in the last 15 years, he has been associated with Indian science and institutions in ways that sometimes surprise him. His association deepened in the ’90s when the government wanted to set up the National Brain Research Center (NBRC) in Haryana. The relationship was formalised in 2010 when the department of biotechnology (DBT) offered him distinguished professorship at NBRC, an institution he is keen to handhold to international standards. “Sur is one of those classy Indian scientists who are thriving in the US, but want to deeply engage with India now,” says M.K. Bhan, secretary, DBT. Given his involvement in various Indian institutions, and his passion for active research at MIT, the pull of India could get overwhelming. “It’s fun. You never stop being Indian,” he says.
HC Verma
Monday, February 06, 2012
NAGPUR: Hanuman's elder brother wanted him to drop out midway through middle school. The family wanted him to start earning and contribute to the income. Today, however, the boy has grown to become a computer trainer, drawing in a salary unimaginable for his family at that time. This change was made possible by a group of volunteers of the NGO Shiksha Sopan, run by students and faculty members of Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. This eclectic group aims at empowering the rural children with knowledge. A name associated with this project is the person whose books are the first word in the study of physics in the country, HC Verma. The IIT-K lecturer was in the city on Sunday to attend Yudhya 2012 - a national level physics Olympiad hosted by Love 4 Physics Club of Vishvesaraya National Institute of Technology (VNIT). Other than teaching physics to graduate and postgraduate students at IIT, Verma is also known for his pet project, teaching physics teachers experiments so the subject can be taught in an easier way. He started off with around 150 such practical demonstrations and in less than a decade, the number of experiments has doubled. This teacher of teachers is proudest when teachers with whom he has shared some of his experiments share the reactions of their students when those experiments are replicated in the classroom. However, the present scenario of science education in the country saddens him. "There is a big disconnect between science seen on the blackboard and that seen in everyday life. Even laboratories at schools and colleges have exotic devices that students do not come across very often in the course of their routine life. Completing journals and writing experiments have become mechanical tasks for students, who do not understand the theory behind what they are writing or doing in the labs," he lamented. He wished teachers would take up examples from everyday life and integrate them with their teaching, using easily available things like marbles, mirrors and pencils. The teachers have the same, old syllabus to deal with year after year, contributing to the uninteresting way in which science is taught in the country, believes Verma. It becomes the individual teacher's task to make their work more interesting rather than succumbing to its monotony, he said. Verma attributes the small number of takers for pure sciences to a social problem. "We are all unique individuals with different characteristics and skill sets. Sadly, these are overlooked in favour of better job prospects while choosing a field of study. Every mind has a unique frequency at which it works. Not everybody is supposed to take up a career in pure sciences, but those who are must stick to them," advised the veteran teacher.
Bhaskar Pramanik
Monday, February 13, 2012
Bhaskar Pramanik, Chairman, Microsoft Corporation (India) Pvt. Ltd. is responsible for all marketing, operational and business development efforts in the country. He provides the single point of leadership for all Microsoft assets including R&D facilities in India and plays an integral role in defining Microsoft's relationships with policy makers, customers and business partners. With over 35 years of experience in the Indian IT industry, Bhaskar comes to Microsoft from Oracle where he had been the Managing Director for its Indian operations post the global acquisition of Sun Microsystems by Oracle. Bhaskar's focus in the last year at Oracle India was to; create higher growth through greater cross leveraging of lines of business; to enhance customer satisfaction and to increase employee motivation. Prior to Oracle, he worked for Sun Microsystems for 13 years as the Managing Director in India and in his last position, served as Global Vice President, Commercial Systems at the U.S. HQ. Bhaskar was instrumental in building the company's presence in India and growing it at a pace faster than the industry average. Bhaskar has held several senior management positions in companies like Digital Equipment India Ltd., Blue Star Ltd., and NELCO. His last held position at Digital Equipment was Director, Enterprise Sales, Digital Equipment Asia Pacific Pte. Ltd., Singapore. Bhaskar is an engineering graduate from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. He has also attended the Advanced Marketing Management Program at Stanford University. Bhaskar has been a member of the Executive Council of NASSCOM and a member of various committees in CII and MAIT. He was also the Chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce, Karnataka, in 2003-2004. Bhaskar is based in Gurgaon with his family. His wife Madhumita is involved with NGO's to teach underprivileged school children and is active with the TOI's Teach India program. He has two adult children. His interests are photography, reading and rebuilding his Golf game.
Nirmalendu Bhattacharya
Monday, February 06, 2012
Dr. Nirmal Bhattacharya recently retired as the Director of Engineering & Public Works, District of Central Saanich, BC, Canada, and has now been appointed a Council Member of Green Municipal Fund (GMF) accountable to the the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) to provide strategic oversight of the funding agreement between the Federal Government and FCM and to make recommendations on all funding applications, strategies, criteria, policies and procedures.

Nirmal Bhattacharya is a professional engineer and registered planner who recently retired from the position of director of engineering and public works for the District of Central Saanich, where he worked as a municipal engineer and soil conservation specialist. He brings practical experience in all areas of municipal activity funded by GMF and in working with municipal decision-makers. During his 11 years with the District of Saanich, Nirmal led all engineering and public works initiatives for the district. He monitored compliance with municipal and provincial regulations, developed policies and procedures, managed budgets and provided input to the corporate strategic plan. As the principal advisor to the district council on engineering, public works and related issues, he worked with elected officials, colleagues and stakeholders to deliver efficient and sustainable services. As a senior member of the management team involved in the municipal decision-making process, Nirmal demonstrated leadership in achieving strategic goals and objectives. He reorganized and integrated the district's engineering and public works functions by implementing new policies and procedures, and leading co-workers to provide improved, sustainable and customer-friendly services. The Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia has recognized Nirmal as a Water Balance Model champion for initiating and facilitating the adoption of the District of Central Saanich Surface Water Management Bylaw. The bylaw requires rainwater runoff capture and encourages the use of the Water Balance Model on individual properties. From 1989 to 2000, Nirmal was superintendent of public works and director of development services for the City of Port Moody, B.C. His responsibilities included municipal services and assets, land development functions, provincial and municipal regulations, budget preparation and control, and liaison with municipal council, community associations, developers, consultants and residents.
Dr. Sanjib Senapati (PHD/CHM/01)
Monday, February 06, 2012
Elsevier and the National Academy of Sciences, India (NASI) announced the recipients of the 6th Annual NASI Scopus™ Young Scientist Awards. The awards were presented at a gala ceremony yesterday evening at The Leela Palace Hotel in New Delhi, in the presence of the Honourable Dr. T. Ramasami, Secretary to the Government of India, Department of Science and Technology. Two of our alumni are in the list.
Dr. Sanjib Senapati received his M. Sc. degree in Physical Chemistry from Kolkata University, Kolkata. He obtained PhD from IIT Kanpur in the year 2001. After his PhD, he did his Post Doctoral Fellow from Department of Chemistry, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, USA. He worked as Research Scientist, Dept. of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California, San Diego, USA. Since 2005 he has been a faculty member in the Dept. of Biotechnology, Indian Institute of Technology Madras. He has published more than 30 research papers and more than 20 articles in workshop and conferences. He received boys cast fellowship from DST for the year 2007-2008.
Dr. Sagnik Dey (MT/PHD/CE/2002/2008) Indian Scopus Young Scientist Award
Monday, February 06, 2012
Elsevier and the National Academy of Sciences, India (NASI) announced the recipients of the 6th Annual NASI Scopus™ Young Scientist Awards. The awards were presented at a gala ceremony yesterday evening at The Leela Palace Hotel in New Delhi, in the presence of the Honourable Dr. T. Ramasami, Secretary to the Government of India, Department of Science and Technology. Two of our alumni are in the list.
Dr. Sagnik Dey received his M. Sc. degree in Applied Geosciences from Jadavpur University, Kolkata (West Bengal) in 2000 and M. Tech. degree from Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur in 2002 and PhD in 2008. His doctoral thesis was on 'Aerosol Radiative Effects over Kanpur region in the Indo-Gangetic Basin, northern India'. He worked three years as Postdoctoral Scientist at Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA. He joined the Centre for Atmospheric Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi as Assistant Professor in July 2010. His research interests are to understand and quantify aerosol-cloud interaction and their impacts on climate change and health impacts of aerosols using remote sensing and in-situ observations and models. He has published more than 30 research papers. He received INSA Young Scientist Medal for the year 2008 for his research contribution on the problem of climatic impacts of aerosols in India. His postdoctoral work on 'MISR-based aerosol climatology over India' has been highlighted by NASA (http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/misr20100915.html). He has been awarded the NASI-SCOPUS Young Scientist Award in Earth Sciences in 2012 for his research contribution on the climatic impacts of aerosols in India.
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