WPI Establishes a Passage to India

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Preparing for India (from left) WPI Students Natalia Carvajal and Swathi Subramanian discuss preparations for their project trip to India with associate professor of history W.A. Bland Addison.

Six WPI students departed for India shortly after the end of Term C term in early March to begin a bootstrap Interactive Qualifying Project that will establish the university's India Project Program. "The students will live at PSG College of Technology in Coimbatore, a city of 2.25 million in the south of India," says civil and environmental engineering Associate Professor P. Jayachandran, who helped establish the program and is its co-director "The college is one of the top schools of engineering and science in India," he says. "It is funded by PSG Industrial Institute, where students can do industry-based projects."

Originally from India, Jayachandran got to know Professor S. Rajasekaran, PSG's civil engineering department head, when the two did research together in the late 1960s. "I've kept in touch with him over the years and saw an opportunity to establish this program there," he says. "I hope to work with him in the future as we both share common research interests. This will be an excellent opportunity for the students and will set the stage for a possible exchange program between our two colleges. PSG also has a project-based curriculum, so we have much in common."

W.A. Bland Addison Jr., associate professor of history, will be the students' project advisor. "Indian culture is rich in centuries of traditions and customs remarkably different from the West," he says. "Our students are very excited about carrying out technical work in an environment so removed from their everyday experience at WPI."

History Professor John Zeugner traveled to Coimbatore in January to finalize arrangements Professor Rajasekaran understood the nature and extent of the IQPs, says Zeugner. "He has a number of their Indian equivalents ongoing at PSG, and would be willing and anxious to integrate his projects or his students into our projects."

Follow-up opportunities between WPI and PSG include a visit this summer by graduate student George Pissimissis, who will work with Rajasekaran. "We also plan on following-up with structural engineering and design MQPs this fall," says Jayachandran.

These students went to India in March to establish a project center:

Brian Bresnahan, a civil engineering major from Holliston, Mass. Natalia Carvajal, an industrial engineering/mechanical engineering double major from Cali, Colombia Kenneth Knowles, a civil engineering major from Hooksett, N.H. Luke Poppish, a mechanical engineering with aerospace interests major from Litchfield, Maine Douglas Sullivan, an electrical engineering/ computer science double major from Hopkinton, Mass. Swathi Subramanian, a computer science major from Shrewsbury, Mass. Carvajal is a sophomore; the others are juniors.