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(July 25, 2002, Gazette)

Dean of engineering steps down
to pursue research

Dr. Rangaswamy Seshadri

It has been nine years since Dr. Rangaswamy Seshadri (Sesh) accepted the position of dean in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. In 1993 he came to Memorial from the University of Regina where he was dean of engineering for four years. He brought with him a lot of ideas and a determination to lead the faculty into new areas of research. When asked about his greatest achievement, he says, “leading the faculty to pursue new directions and establish strong linkages with the private sector, improve research productivity and funding.”

Dr. Neil Bose, Faculty of Engineering and Applied science, would agree with this statement. He was part of the search committee that hired Dr. Seshadri. Looking back at his role within the faculty he adds, “Sesh came along at a time when the faculty had to move into a greater concentration on research. For us to move forward, research had to become something that the majority of faculty members did. Sesh changed the atmosphere in the faculty. He balanced the emphasis on the undergraduate program with an emphasis on research. He built a strong research environment within the faculty, supported people and started a number of initiatives to drive this new outlook.”

Dr. Seshadri first heard about Memorial from his former teachers in India who were working there. When the opportunity arose to become dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, he jumped at the chance.

“I was very well aware of Memorial’s reputation and knew that it had a solid, established engineering program. The opportunity to be a part of that environment was too good to resist.”

In his time at Memorial, Dr. Seshadri has been instrumental in introducing many new programs, driving research opportunities and building strong linkages with the industrial community. Some of the programs he has helped to introduce include oil and gas options for undergraduate students, the computer engineering program, manufacturing and robotics options within mechanical engineering, and the modernization and expansion of the ocean and naval architectural program to include offshore structures, submersibles and recreational boats. He has also built upon the faculty’s research capabilities with the establishment of numerous externally funded research chairs, the introduction of research facilities, such as the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), Medical Engineering Centre, and the Instrumentation, Control and Automation (INCA) Centre.

The academic program has also benefited from his guidance. A strong Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB) accreditation for all undergraduate programs has gone a long way to create tremendous credibility for Memorial’s engineering program.

Summarizing upon his talent as the dean, Dr. Jaap Tuinman, former vice-president (academic) says, “He was skilled at persuasion, with great and sound ideas and the requisite tenacity. He marshaled external (community and industry) and internal (faculty and administration) support in surprising ways. As a result of this, he leaves a very fine Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science behind.”

Now the time has come to pursue research interests. Dr. Seshadri is Memorial’s nominee for the Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Asset Integrity Management, a growing area of research that is focused upon the identification of potential failure modes inherent in engineering plant systems and equipment, and the development of appropriate failure avoidance strategies. This new appointment is pending approval from the Canada Research Chair program. Speaking about this new opportunity, Dr. Seshadri says, “I am looking forward to this next challenge in my career. After nine years with the faculty it is time for me to move on. I am very optimistic about the future of the faculty. There are a lot of emerging industries on the horizon and Memorial has a big part to play. I would like to thank everyone who has made my job here such a memorable one.”

“The faculty will do well to identify a successor who can accomplish as much for engineering as Sesh has over the past nine years,” said Dr. Evan Simpson, vice-president (academic).