As the news that Sundar Pichai was named the new CEO of Google came in, 71-year-old Sanat Kumar Ray was pacing up and down in his residence at IIT-Kharagpur with happiness.
"In my 45-year-old career as a professor at IIT Kharagpur, I have seen many students who went on to become big names globally but Sundar is special. While others started getting world recognition after they turned fifty, Sundar has achieved the same at a very young age. No doubt I am happy and proud today," said Ray who taught Pichai at the premier institute.
Ray talked about Pichai's knack in electronics saying he demonstrated his keen interest in the subject in his third year at IIT and also wrote a thesis on the subject in the final year.
He added that an alumnus like Pichai prove the fact that the IITs have indeed been contributing to the society's development.
"There was a time when people thought that the government is spending money to groom students at IIT only to facilitate their movement to the United States and contribute to the development of that nation. Now, with the success of students like Sundar, who helped create Chrome and Android, we can safely conclude that the contributions by IITians, no matter from where in the globe, can change the life of millions across the globe."
Forty three-year-old Pichai, who was born and brought up in Chennai, graduated from IIT-Kharagpur, where he did a BE in metallurgical engineering. He went on to do a masters from Stanford University and an MBA from Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.
Pichai's name was registered as P Sundarajan when he was at IIT-Kharagpur. He was a 1993 batch student of the department of metallurgical and materials engineering.
Pichai joined Google in 2004, the year the company launched Gmail, and has worked on some of the company's best-known products, from the Chrome browser to the Android mobile software.
Raving about the success of its alumni, director of IIT-Kharagpur PP Chakrabarti recalled that Pichai was a bright student who topped his department and was awarded the BC Roy Silver Medal for his achievements.
"We are extremely happy for him. As a former student of this institute, he has made all of us very proud. Pichai is an inspiration for our students and we hope he achieves greater heights," said Chakrabarti.
Indranil Manna, who was Pichai's thesis guide and is now the director of IIT-Kanpur, remembers him as an extremely well behaved and a very sharp student who was generally quite.
"He was one of those typical good students who would follow every word of the teacher. He did his BTech final year thesis under me and professor DN Bose. I recommended him for his MS in Stratford University but was disappointed when he chose not to do a PhD and went to Wharton to study management. But today when he is heading the fourth largest company of the world my regret is gone and I am very happy for him," said Manna.
Atal Ashutosh Agarwal, vice-president at Technology Students' Gymkhana, said when Pichai interacted with students early this year, through a webinar for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit hosted by the entrepreneurship cell at IIT, he inspired them with his speech.
"It was only this Sunday that he was awarded a distinguished alumnus award by IIT-KGP and on Monday he was named the CEO of Google. We are very happy," said Agarwal.
Agarwal added Pichai has promised he will visit his alma mater when he is in India next.