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From IIT to Stanford with flying colours

By Our Staff Reporter

CHENNAI, JULY 30. When he takes a plane to Stanford in the next few weeks, D. Sridharan will probably know where every screw fits on the flying machine. Not surprising, considering that he has a dual degree (B.Tech and M.Tech) in Aeronautical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. And the President's Medal for the student with the highest Cumulative Grade Point Average for 2004, to boot.

Surprisingly, at Stanford, Sridharan is going to study the mind, not the machine. "My interest changed over the years. At Stanford, I will be researching in the area of neurosciences. Perhaps I will work on music and the brain." A second generation IIT-ian, this Vidya Mandir student knew where he was headed for after school. "My father, Devaraj, was a 1974 batch student. When I got through the Joint Entrance Exam, I was merely looking at doing well." He just landed up topping the class in every exam over the next five years.

Piyush Shanker, Governor's Prize winner at the Institute, too will go to Stanford. For him, it will be a long journey, starting off as he did from Ranipet, where he studied in DAV BHEL. He used to travel from rural Ranipet to Bangalore every two months to attend IIT-entrance coaching classes. Ranked 311 in the test, he was allotted electrical engineering, "which is what I wanted to do." He played in four sports teams of the college, was the literary affairs secretary for the hostel and worked as sponsorship secretary for IIT Saarang this year. He will continue in his chosen field of speciality — electrical engineering — with a scholarship. Sridharan and Piyush received their medals at the 41st convocation of IIT Madras, held here today from the chief guest, V.S. Ramachandran, director, Centre for Brain and Cognition and Professor of Neurosciences and Psychology, University of California, San Diego. Prof. Ramachandran, on whom a Degree of Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) was conferred, also distributed awards and prizes to several other IIT-ians.

Earlier, delivering the convocation address, Prof. Ramachandran discussed synesthesia as a concrete genuine sensory phenomenon in the brain. He urged students to take pride in the country and their institution and to be in the company of the passionate and enthusiastic, as passion was contagious.

Socially-relevant projects

K. Kasturirangan, chairman, IIT Board of Governors, said the institute, while striving to be in the forefront of technological innovations and contemporary scientific research, related itself to local environs and problems. Many socially-relevant projects were undertaken in collaboration with Government agencies, non-governmental organisations and academic institutions. Among the efforts taken by IIT this year is a pilot plant to provide drinking water through desalination, combining solar energy and reverse osmosis.

IIT Director, M.S. Ananth, distributed certificates to graduates, postgraduates and Ph.D. scholars. A total of 1,082 students received certificates from Prof. Ananth, who presented the annual report.

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