The Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, Aug. 5 established the Amba & V.S. Sastry Distinguished Visiting Chair at the institute to promote institutional excellence.

Under the chair, every academic year, an active distinguished academic of international stature from the field of science, engineering or humanities will be invited to spend at least a month at IITGN for lectures, interactions and research collaborations, according to a news release.

With creation of the new chair position, IITGN will be able to further strengthen its scholar-in-residence program to bring distinguished visitors from India and abroad to add significant value to the institute, it said.

Indian American professor Amrutur Anilkumar, an aerospace engineer and a faculty member at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, established the chair in honor of his parents, Amba and V.S. Sastri.

Addressing the gathering on the occasion, Anilkumar recalled how two institutions have had a tremendous impact on him, the first being the high school where he studied, National High School in Bangalore, which was founded by Dr. Annie Besant; and the second institute is IIT Gandhinagar, as he finds the same kind of vibration at the institute, the release said.

Anilkumar emphasized the concept of finding light at the end of the tunnel through science and technology and gave an example of some blind men touching the elephant, to explain that there can be different problems for different people but we must act to come out of the self-imposed blindness and see the reality, the release added.

"We need to come out of our blindness to see the reality," Anilkumar said in a statement. "The sooner we come out of it the better.”

He then recalled his eight years long association with IITGN by supporting the Roddam Narsimha distinguished lecture series at the institute, which brings diverse range of scholars from across the world to IITGN, it said.

Speaking at the function, Professor Amit Prashant, officiating director at IITGN, thanked Anilkumar and his family for their continuous support for the Roddam Narsimha distinguished lecture series at the institute and establishing the visiting chair.

“IITGN has an outward looking policy, to interact with people from outside the institute, bring them here, learn from them and build collaborations," Prashant said. "Such a chair becomes engine for the vision that IITGN aspires to establish.”

Anilkumar has worked as a NASA investigator of microgravity fluid flow phenomenon on space shuttle flights and on the International Space Station. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from IIT Madras and a masters and doctorate in mechanical engineering and aeronautics from the California Institute of Technology. Anilkumar has won several educational awards from NASA, AIAA and Vanderbilt University

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