IIT-Chennai alumnus Subra Suresh, the new Dean of the world’s top engineering school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), wants to explore lasting collaborations with India.
Suresh, who assumed the Dean’s office on July 23, now has 40 per cent of the MIT faculty, 60 per cent of the undergraduates with declared majors and 44 per cent of the graduate students under him. The position makes him one of America’s most powerful educationists on a campus that has produced 63 Nobel laureates so far.
“The MIT School of Engineering and Indian institutions including several IITs, the Indian Institute of Science, and IIMs have had a history of interactions. We will continue to be interested in carefully exploring how lasting collaborations with India with significant potential for impact could be formulated,” Suresh said in an exclusive email interview to the Hindustan Times. Last year, MIT’s Technology Review listed Suresh as one of the 10 scientists whose research will have “a significant impact on business, medicine or culture” in the years ahead.
Tracing the history of the MIT-India partnership, Suresh added, “Many MIT alumni have played leadership roles in India. Similarly, many graduates of Indian institutions have made a mark at MIT.”
A strong proponent of innovative global collaborations, he is among the 102 members of the US National Academy of Engineering (NAE) at the MIT School. Election to the NAE is among the highest professional distinctions accorded an engineer. His appointment as the Dean comes in the wake of his lab’s breakthroughs in cell nanomechanics, and the 2007 European Materials Medal.
MIT, which is at the forefront of engineering innovations, has a sizeable Indian population but only 20 faculty in the School of Engineering are India-born.
“The success of students, researchers and faculty from India at MIT, Stanford, Harvard, CalTech, etc. indicates the strength of education in India,” Suresh said.
Suresh continues to maintain professional ties with India and doesn’t rule out working in the country at some point. He was appointed the Brahm Prakash Visiting Professor at IISc, Bangalore, in 2004, and the American co-chair of the Indo-US Frontiers of Engineering last year. “I am fully focused on my new job as of now. Of course, I would not wish to rule out any other possibility for the future, either here or in India,” he said. Will that translate into brain gain for India? Watch this space.