An Indian American has been honoured for raising the profile of the mathematics department of the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) in the US.
Daljit Ahluwalia, 75, long-time maths chair at the NJIT, was honoured in the presence of over 150 leading academics from around the world at the beginning of the university's fifth annual Frontiers in Applied and Computational Mathematics Conference on campus in Newark.
"We all thank Daljit for his many contributions in building one of the most accomplished teams in applied mathematics in the world today," said NJIT president Robert A. Altenkirch.
An endowed fund for the newly established D.S. Ahluwalia Doctoral Fellowship in Mathematical Sciences was also announced on the occasion.
Under Ahluwalia's leadership, the math department faculty at NJIT has doubled, the department became the largest in the university and transitioned from a teaching faculty to one of the leading centres for applied mathematics research in the country.
It now receives over $2 million a year in federal funding. Last year, Academic Analytics, ranked the department at No.10 in the US on the basis of faculty productivity, as reported in a journal of higher education.
Ahluwalia was born in Sialkot, now in Pakistan, and had his education in Amritsar and Jalandhar in Punjab. He came to the NJIT in 1986 to lead the Department of Mathematical Sciences following over a decade at the famed Courant Institute for the Mathematical Sciences at New York University.
Asked how he built the department, Ahluwalia told IANS: "We spotted, hired and groomed good people as faculty."
Not just in sciences but in mathematics too Indian Americans are making a mark in the US, he said.
Indeed, several of the speakers at NJIT's three-day mathematics conference bear Indian names.
Mathematics is finding valuable applications in all walks of life, including business and law, Ahluwalia said.
"Unfortunately, India is lagging behind in applied mathematics," he pointed out.
Ahluwalia has no plans to retire "as long as I am able to contribute to the department and health permits".
A turban wearing Sikh, he says he has not faced any discrimination in his professional life though he is aware that people of his religion are targeted in the country.
Ahluwalia's advice to his community is: "Fight it. Do not allow it to stop you from aspiring and succeeding in life. Educate the community at large about your faith."