It was a homecoming of sorts. As Arjun Varma Kalidindi stood in front of the Chemical Engineering Department in the falling light, his mother, Usha, quickly clicked a few pictures. They had stolen these moments away from their visit to the Nehru Museum of Science and Technology with the members of the 32 teams who had come to participate in the IIT Kharapgur’s Young Innovator’s Program 2019.
They just had to make this detour. Many aeons ago, Arjun’s grandfather – K. Satyanarayana Raju on our rolls, and later Dr. K.S.N Raju – would have walked those stretches many a time with his friends. A wave of emotions gripped the mother and son as they made the trip together. Dr. Raju had passed away in October, 2014. In the fading light of that evening, his grandson, visiting the Department, made a poignant connection with his memory again.
Born in a small village in rural Andhra Pradesh, Dr. Raju grew up to be a passionate educator and writer. He finished his BTech in Chemical Engineering in Andhra University, before coming for his MTech in IIT Kharagpur, which he completed in 1959. He moved on to Panjab University to complete his PhD in 1971. He taught at Panjab University for 28 years. He moved to Libya to continue educating students in Bright Star University of Technology, a premier technical university of the country.
Dr. Raju was involved in active interaction with the industry, taking up projects and executing them with the induction of graduate students onsite in select industries. He was also responsible for developing chemical engineering departments at Panjab University, Chandigarh, B.V. Raju Institute of Technology, Andhra Pradesh, and the Bright Star University of Technology, Libya. Apart from this, Dr. Raju was involved in the curriculum development for several institutions as member of their boards of studies.
In his long and meritorious academic career, Dr. Raju published over 90 papers and articles in international magazines and journals. He supervised research at doctoral and postdoctoral levels, and reviewed publications in international journals and magazines in engineering, including the prestigious Applied Mechanics Reviews of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
He delivered invited lectures on plate heat exchangers at the NATO Advanced Research Institute along with highly distinguished speakers. He also gave onsite courses in industry, covering refineries, gas processing, petrochemical, and fertilizer plants, including lectures on several areas of chemical engineering to trainees and practising engineers in petroleum and petrochemical industry and on international fora. Among books authored by him are Fluid Mechanics, Heat Transfer, and Mass Transfer: Chemical Engineering Practice as a joint publication of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. His other publications include Low Reynolds Number Heat Exchanger Design along with several distinguished authors and an earlier book on Applied Chemistry.
His grandson, Arjun, was at IIT Kharagpur for YIP 2019 with two of his friends, Ashrith Edukulla and Nairit Gupta as part of Team Reignite on behalf of FIITJEE School, Hyderabad. Using Arduino, they had developed a SafeDrive Device, a fully automatic and cost effective device which when attached to cars would inhibit driving if it detected alcohol level in the driver’s breath that was above the legal limit. Armed with ultrasonic sensors, it could also assist the driver in parking the car. The team had gone through several gruelling rounds before being invited to IIT Kharagpur to display their technology.
Back home, Arjun and his mother wrote back, “It was a wonderful experience for us and thank you so much for your hospitality.”