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NRI to help link up US varsity with IITs

Duke university appointed Vivek Wadhwa its ambassador to help link it up with the IT academia in India.

india Updated: Aug 28, 2005 11:00 IST

After trying his hand at producing a Bollywood film, Indian American Vivek Wadhwa, founder of an IT company, is now teaching at a premier southern university that wants him to help link it up with the IT academia in India.

His year-long absorption in Bollywood saw Wadhwa, founder and CEO of Relativity Technologies, a North Carolina-based legacy systems company, team up with Indian starlet Kashmira Shah to produce Bollywood Bride, a love story to be released later this year.

Wadhwa is now teaching at Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering where he was appointed Executive in Residence in the Master of Engineering Management (MEM) programme. He will serve as a mentor to students in the programme and faculty interested in commercialising technology developed at Duke.

The university wants Wadhwa to link it up with the IT academia in India.

"They want me to be their ambassador to the IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology) in India. Like the rest of America, they are fascinated by the rise of India, and America is seeking new ways to work with India," Wadhwa said.

Talking of his new teaching stint, Wadhwa says: "It's a big change. I've been a techie my whole life.

"I did a little stint in Bollywood to get that out of my system - like getting rid of a mid-life crisis. I found I didn't want to continue because it is a very fake industry. I realised it's not my world even though my project was successful.

"What's next for me? I could go back into business but I really wanted a chance to give back.

"I gained a lot from education. I did an MBA and Bachelors. And now that I have all this experience, I want to bring the real world back into academia."

Said Jeff Glass, director of the MEM programme: "Providing students access to a seasoned, successful international entrepreneur such as Vivek Wadhwa is one of the most powerful teaching resources we can offer.

"His participation will strengthen the industry relevance of our programme and enable students to explore different career options through one-on-one mentorship, seminars and workshops."

Glass hopes Wadhwa will serve as an advisory resource to faculty interested in commercialising technology developed at Duke.

He also wants to engage Wadhwa in campus entrepreneurial activities such as the Duke Startup Challenge and TechEval. Wadhwa will assist in establishing a corporate advisory board of top industry leaders for the MEM programme.

Wadhwa had earned a bachelor degree in Computing Studies from Canberra University in Australia and an MBA from New York University.

Apart from Relativity, Wadhwa also co-founded Seer Technologies in Cary, North Carolina, in 1990 and helped lead it to a very successful IPO. From 1986 to 1990, Wadhwa was vice president of Information Services at Credit Suisse First Boston in New York.

He is a regular columnist for BusinessWeek Online and was founding president of TiE Carolinas, an entrepreneurial networking and mentoring group started by Indian American IT entrepreneurs in the US.