IIT Madras Alumnus Family’s donation helps set up ‘K. Mahesh Institute Chair’ Professorship

Chennai: An Indian Institute of Technology Madras Alumnus’ family has come forward to make a significant financial contribution to establish an Institute Chair Professorship.

Mr. Krishna Mahesh, Managing Director, Sundaram Brake Linings Ltd, made the donation to endow ‘K. Mahesh Institute Chair’ in memory of his late father Mr. K. Mahesh, an alumnus (1965 batch) of Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, IIT Madras.

Prof K. Ramesh, Department of Applied Mechanics, IIT Madras, who pioneered a new paradigm in Engineering Education by writing innovative e-Books, will be the first occupant of the Chair. He had received the Zandman award for the year 2012, the first Indian to receive the award since its inception in 1989 for his outstanding research contributions in applications utilizing photoelastic coatings. The Award was instituted by the Society for Experimental Mechanics, U.S.

Prof. Mahesh Panchagnula, Dean (Alumni and Corporate Relations), IIT Madras, and Mr. Krishna Mahesh signed the MoU today (16th March 2020) to set up the ‘K. Mahesh Institute Chair’ in the presence of Prof Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director, IIT Madras and Prof K. Ramesh.

Thanking Mr. Krishna Mahesh for his generous gesture, Prof Mahesh Panchagnula, Dean (Alumni and Corporate Relations), IIT Madras, said, “It is a matter of great pride for us to be associated with our alumnus Mr. Mahesh in the form of this Chair. We are indeed honoured that this Chair is being set up at IIT Madras.”

The Chair Professorship has been established to recognize the faculty for their research, collaboration with Industry in R&D, innovation and implementation of state-of-the-art solutions. This Chair occupant will strive to excel in fields of activity relevant to IIT Madras.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Krishna Mahesh, Managing Director, Sundaram Brake Linings Ltd, said, “My late father, K. Mahesh, worked tirelessly for the advancement of Indian Industry. He was the first member of the TVS family to go to IIT and he remained a proud alumnus of IIT Madras throughout his life. After IIT, he went to the UK to be trained by Bridge Foundry in the latest metallurgical techniques. His focus was always quality — he wanted to take pride in the quality of manufacturing that our country can produce. When he founded SBL, his focus was on quality levels that enabled exports from India from the very first day of production. He continued to pioneer innovation, bringing in computers within his company in the 1980s itself and was a leader in educating his company and his children in their use. He championed Lean Production in India, bringing the teachings of Professors Womack and Jones to life here. In his time as President of the Auto Components Manufacturing Association of India, he endeavoured to spread this best practice to small and medium Indian companies as well. His efforts to apply the best of academic thinking to industry was recognized when the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineer (JUSE) awarded his company the most prestigious Deming prize. It was the second Deming prize given to an Indian company and the first ever given to a friction manufacturer in the entire world.”

Further, Mr. Krishna Mahesh said, “While Mr. Mahesh helped all of the Indian Automotive Industry through his life, his fondest wish for academia to engage more fully with industry to help India Inc. achieve its true potential. As a proud graduate of IIT he continually advocated for a spirit where academia worked hand in hand with industry to make the greatest possible contribution to the growth of the nation. I truly hope that Professor Ramesh who first occupies this august chair will continually endeavour to achieve this wonderful vision of uniting my father’s Alma Mater and with his passion for advancing India through its industry.”

Prof K. Ramesh has over 175 publications to date of which two have been reproduced in the Milestone Series of SPIE. He has also taken keen interest in developing both educational and research software in the area of Solid Mechanics. The software P_Scope® – A virtual polariscope is expected to make a sea change in Solid Mechanics education across the world and the software DigiTFP® would make modern photoelasticity affordable to the reach of Industrial and Educational research laboratories. His research has been funded by organizations such as ARDB, ISRO, DST, NSF and European Union (FP7). He is a Fellow of the Indian National Academy of Engineering since 2006. Other recognitions and awards include: Certificate of Excellence in Reviewing from several Elsevier journals, Distinguished Alumnus Award of NIT, Trichy (2008), Outstanding Young Individual of Kanpur award instituted by the Kanpur Industrial Junior Chamber (1993), President of India Cash Prize (1984).

Accepting the Chair Professorship, Prof K. Ramesh, Department of Applied Mechanics, IIT Madras, said, “With significant developments in multimedia technology, recognising the need of innovation in Engineering Education is timely. Judicious use of the technology can make the learning experience very effective and long lasting. The new funding would give impetus to motivate other faculty to try and integrate technology innovatively for engineering education.”

Prof Ramesh also thanked the donor and said that he was pleased to be associated with this Chair.