Professor S.N. Balakrishnan | Shiv Nadar University
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Professor S.N. Balakrishnan

A life so beautifully lived deserves to be beautifully remembered. 

Let us take a moment to remember Professor Balakrishnan or Balan (as he preferred to be called) for not only his scholastic and intellectual achievements, but also for his very positive spirit, empathetic leadership and the enormous legacy for the University that he leaves behind.

Balan took charge as Shiv Nadar University’s Chancellor in April 2014 from Late Mr. T.S.R. Subramanian, the founding Chancellor, and remained in Office until September 2018. He played a pivotal role in shaping the University as a higher education institution of excellence and global stature with his rich experience in academics, research and expertise in global learning pedagogy. His many contributions resulted in several recognitions, including in the University being chosen as an ‘Institution of Eminence’. He was also Chairman of the Executive Council when the University was still in its early years.

Summing up the idea that forms the bedrock of the University’s mission and what we represent, Balan had said in his speech at the Shiv Nadar University Convocation 2018:

“How to facilitate and enhance learning can be greatly helped with the array of technological tools now available. But how best to devise educational programs to stimulate all parts of the brain, logic and creative sides that will enable our students to produce the best that they can…that task is non-trivial.”

Balan is globally known for his work in developing missile guidance algorithms and intelligent control. His research interests included stability and control of aerospace and mechanical systems, cognition and bio-inspired techniques for decision and control, and large-scale optimization. His research in intelligent control was sponsored by the National Science Foundation of the US continuously for decades, and his work in aircraft and space research by NASA. He was a Curators' Distinguished Professor for Aerospace Engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology, USA, and spearheaded IST-Rolla, a firm that provides research and development services for defense aircraft that has also won multiple awards for innovative research from the Missile Defense Agency and NASA. He was also associated with the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and Sigma Gamma Tau, and published more than 250 journal articles and conference papers. He earned his Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. 

To those who have been fortunate to work with him, he was a great mentor whose energy, warmth and irreverent wisdom were great sources of encouragement.

The Bhagavad Gita explains: For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. He has not come into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, and primeval.

As we come to terms with the loss, we pray for Balan’s soul, confident that he is in a happier and safer place. He will always be remembered as a visionary, a celebrated scholar in aerospace engineering, a distinguished educationist, and above all, a fine human being. He will be very greatly missed.

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