Who are some famous alumni from IITM's Chemical Engineering department?

The department of chemical engineering at IIT Madras is a centre for excellence in its own regard, and no doubt it has borne some of the best minds in the field and well beyond its scope. A few notable mentions are:

Mr V. Prem Watsa


A highly accomplished IITM graduate, Mr Watsa rose to the position of Chief Executive in multibillion dollar conglomerates in North America, notably excelling in the fields of insurance and finance. After completing his Btech in ChE in 1971, he pursued an MBA from the University of Western Ontario. His career began in Confederation Life Insurance Company, where his insights in investment research and portfolio management led him to later found Hablin Watsa Investment Counsel Ltd. which was later acquired by Fairfax. In 1985, he assumed control of Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd, a Toronto Stock Exchange listed company with $31B in assets and a remarkable stakeholders’ equity return of 20%.

Dr Sankaran Sundaresan

A distinguished Proffessor of ChemE at Princeton University, Dr Sundaresan has made impactful research contributions encompassing various aspects of Chemical reaction engineering, including hydrodynamics of multiphase reactors, oxidation catalysis, and reactor dynamics. After completing his Btech in ChE from IITM in 1976, he pursued his M.S. and subsequent PhD from the University of Houston in 1978 and 1980 respectively. His work, lauded for its unique combination of elegance and practical utility has been published in over 100 papers in reputed journals and has brought In 4 patents to his credit. He has won several awards and honors, including the Richard H. Wilhelm Award in Chemical Reaction Engineering in 1999. Glamour and accomplishments aside, he has been an outstanding teacher and is known for his unwavering dedication to illuminating complex subjects for students.

Dr C. Mohan


An esteemed IBM researcher with a 34 year stint in the field of database management, Dr C. Mohan is widely recognized for his contibutions to the development of the ARIES family of database locking and recovery algorithms and Presumed Abord commit protocols. His seminal contributions quite literally run the modern information driven society. To recognize his immense effort, he was conferred with the ACM SIGMOID Innovation Award(1996), VLDB 10 Year Best Paper Award(1999) and was even elected to the US and Indian National Academies of Engineering. After graduating from IITM in 1977, he received his PhD at the University of Texas at Austin in 1981 and was named a Distiguished Visiting Professor in China’s Tsingua University. He has 47 patents to his credit and has served on the advisory board of the IEEE Spectrum.

Dr J. Narayana Das

Currently the Director of Naval Materials Research Laboratory (NMRL), Ambarnath (DRDO), Dr. Das has made outstanding contributions to India’s strategic and industrial self reliance. He received his Btech in ChE in 1971, followed by an M.S. and PhD in 1993 from IIT Madras.

In his 36 year stint in R&D in DRDO, he initiated projects aimed at acoustic wave propagation in special types of rubber compounds for application in SONAR sensor technology. His patented work in Magneto-rheological fluids and magneto-resistive fluids have won him numerous accolades worldwide. As Director at NMRL, he plays an instrumental role in ideation, development and integration of crucial naval technology, including newer ship welding techniques as well as a 33KW fuel cell powerplant.

Shri M. G. Venkatesh Mannar


**An esteemed leader in global health and nutrition, M. G. Mannar graduated from IITM with a Btech in ChE in 1970 and a subsequent Masters from Northwestern University. After a successful stint in the salt industry, he made advances in developing technology for the fortification of salt with essential nutrients. For his work, he was invited by UN agencies to contribute to global programs against deficiencies in over 40 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Since the 1994 he has been the President of the Micronutrient Initiative(MI), a global cause against malnutrition and deficiencies in vulnerable populations. Today, MI has directly impacted 75 countries and saved over 500 million lives.