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Making A Difference

Alumnus Supports Students in First Indo-U.S. Research Academy
Alumnus Supports Students in First Indo-U.S. Research Academy

Nine undergraduates from Rensselaer spent an intensive week in Pune, India, last autumn as part of the first Indo-U.S. Research Academy.

Costs of Rensselaer’s participation in the academy, as well as the cost of travel for Rensselaer students, were supported by a grant from entrepreneurs Priti and Mukesh Chatter ’82. Mukesh Chatter earned his bachelor’s degree in computer engineering at Birla Institute of Technology and Science. He earned his master’s degree in computer and systems engineering at Rensselaer.

Rensselaer, Pune College of Engineering, and the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur also supported the academy.

The new program, launched by the Office of Undergraduate Education, brings together students and faculty experts from the three universities for intercultural collaboration around pressing multidisciplinary challenges facing engineers and researchers of every nation.

The weeklong academy revolved around three critical multidisciplinary topics: energy and environment, electronics and devices, and modeling and simulation. Another focus was the business and entrepreneurial environments of these three areas.

“This is a great example of intercultural collaboration,” says Prabhat Hajela, vice provost and dean of undergraduate education. “Our students brought American perspectives to problem solving, the Indian students brought their own way of thinking about solutions—the groups worked together to develop a richer, deeper understanding of not only the important scientific and engineering challenges but also how their counterparts think and act.”

Along with technical discussions and presentations, Rensselaer students were able to spend time traveling in and around Pune with their Indian peers. A highlight of the trip was attending Pune’s Navratri festival.

“Having the opportunity to present my research to my peers and to discuss the results, as well as alternative approaches, was by far the most rewarding experience I have ever had,” says Meghan Lenihan ’10. “Through this experience, cultural barriers were demolished, new friendships were formed, and lives were changed forever… [India] became more than just an outline on a map—it grew to be a part of me.”

“Experiences like this help our students distinguish themselves from their peers at other institutions,” Hajela says, “conversant not only with technical knowledge but in step with global thinking and global approaches to problem solving.”

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Rensselaer (ISSN 0898-1442) is published in Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter by the Office of Strategic Communications and External Relations, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY 12180-3590. Opinions expressed in these pages do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors or the policies of the Institute. ©2009 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.