Washington: Nagi Naganathan, an alumnus of the National Institute of Technology at Tiruchirappalli in Tamil Nadu, has been appointed interim president of the University of Toledo, a public research university in Ohio.
A member of the Toledo faculty since 1986, Naganathan who had led the College of Engineering as dean since May 2003 assumed his new position on July 1.
Naganathan’s work with industry includes conducting vibration analysis and control studies on heavy-duty truck powertrains for Dana Corporation and as a design engineer with Ashok Leyland Motors.
Joining a small but growing list of Indian Americans heading US academic institutions, he is the author and co-author of more than 100 publications in peer-reviewed journals.
He also has been awarded a US patent on the use of piezoelectric devices in active suspension systems.
Naganathan has received a number of prestigious awards, including the Distinguished Alumnus Award from his alma mater, the NIT, Tiruchirappalli, formerly known as Regional Engineering College, Tiruchirappalli.
Other awards include Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, UT Outstanding Teacher Award, UT Outstanding Researcher Award, SAE Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award, ASME Outstanding Regional Faculty Advisor Award, and TST/TSPE Engineer of the Year.
Naganathan earned his bachelor’s degree with honours in mechanical engineering from the NIT, a master’s degree in mechanical and industrial engineering from Clarkson University, New York and a PhD in mechanical engineering from Oklahoma State University.
He is a tenured professor of mechanical, industrial and manufacturing engineering with expertise in the areas of smart material systems and structures, robotics, vibrations and control, and microcomputer applications in electromechanical systems.
Under his leadership, the College of Engineering has achieved record high student enrollments, registering an increase in the undergraduate enrolment every fall semester for the last eight academic years, a university announcement said.
Naganathan also has worked to elevate the college’s mandatory co-operative experience programme- one of only eight in the US – exceeding 15,000 placements in partnership with more than 1,600 employers in more than 40 states in the US and in more than 30 foreign countries.
He created the Engineering Leadership Institute with philanthropic support from Roy and Marcia Armes, CEO of Cooper Tire & Rubber Company and a 1975 UT mechanical engineering graduate, to provide leadership opportunities for students.
Naganathan’s interest in collaborations lead to new joint degree programmes with the College of Business and Innovation and College of Medicine and Life Sciences in the areas of information technology and biomedical engineering.
The college has grown under Naganathan’s tenure with the addition of the Nitschke Technology Commercialization Complex and the Thomas and Elizabeth Brady Engineering Innovation Centre.
It also has grown in prestige nationally. In October 2006, the engineering graduate programme was listed for the first time in the Princeton Review’s the top 20 graduate programme and US News and World Report has ranked the practice oriented masters programme among the top 50 in the US for the last three years.
Naganathan’s research projects have been funded with $6.5 million in grants and contracts from external sponsors, including the National Science Foundation and automotive manufacturers.