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It's Rama Time

Mar 21 2007 19:36
Avalon de Paravicini
Dr Ramachandran answers questions about his long career in industry and academia and his imminent retirement.
A somewhat old photo

Dr Ramachandran is to retire at the end of this academic year and has been something of a permanent fixture at Imperial for at least thirty years. Whether you are a first year in his Fortran computing class or have him for structural dynamics as a fourth year, you are unlikely to have not come across him. Here he reflects briefly over some of his key moments and future plans.

[AdP] What have you enjoyed most about your time at Imperial?

[KR] Teaching and meeting students; helping them achieve their full potential. The satisfaction is when I see them doing well in their economic and/or industrial life. It gives me a great deal of satisfaction.

However, the most agonising thing is to sit in examiners' meeting and to learn that a few students miss their deserving classes (degrees) by a few marks. It is also disturbing to see a few students getting degrees which they do not deserve.

[AdP] I heard you had a period in industry. Can you tell me about your career in brief?

[KR] I was in industry for about seven years. Five of which were in my native country. My real and basic training was given there. I was helping people to gain access to infrastructure, such as roads, water and houses.

After that I came to Imperial to do my PhD. For personal reasons I went back home, then went back to industry for two years.

Because of the capitalist exploitations by some of the firms (for example world bank loans or third world budgets) I decided to leave industry, although I would have preferred to have worked for a public institution where profit maximisation isn?t the main aim, or in other words where things are more service minded.

I thought it was the best idea to be back at a university, where everything was not-for-profit, where people were at the time taught for free, although things have now changed and the university acts more like a firm. Universities were back then a place for learned people to gather and I believed they were to produce an educated society as a result; not graduate-focused for business and industry.

[AdP] What do you want to do when you retire?

[KR] Personally I want to go back to my native country (Sri Lanka) but unfortunately due to a civil war, that?s not possible. My wife and I want to do social work; maybe in this country or another to repay society, which has helped us achieve what we have now.

Although not a scheme like Red R which requires physical fitness!

I will miss nothing else but the students here; talking with them and helping them.

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