Clarkson University Professor Emeritus of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering R. Shankar Subramanian of Potsdam has received the 2020-2021 Alagappa College of Technology (AC Tech) Distinguished Alumni Award.
Subramanian received his bachelor of technology degree in chemical engineering in 1968 from AC Tech, an institution in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, that offers higher education in engineering, technology and allied sciences. The college was established in 1944 under the University of Madras and was integrated with Anna University in 1978.
The AC Tech Distinguished Alumni Awards Program was created by the Alumni Association to recognize highly distinguished alumni for extraordinary achievements and contributions to their professions, communities and academic fields.
The Governor of Tamil Nadu, the honorable R. N. Ravi, presented the Distinguished Alumni Awards as part of the AC Tech 77th anniversary on Dec. 18 and 19.
Although he could not travel to the awards ceremony, Subramanian says he is pleased to have received the award. "I am most honored to receive this award from my undergraduate alma mater. Alagappa Chettiar College of Technology was among the earliest institutions established in India to educate chemical engineers. When I was an undergrad, the college also had degree programs in textile engineering and leather technology. The institution has come a long way with its integration into Anna University, and continues to bring together the academic and industrial communities."
Subramanian grew up in India and came to Clarkson in 1968 to pursue higher studies, receiving both his Ph.D. and master of science degrees in chemical engineering.
He began his teaching career at Clarkson in 1973, and, in 1977, he and a colleague submitted a research proposal to conduct experiments on the Space Shuttle, which was selected for funding.
In 1978, Subramanian and a colleague obtained a grant from NASA that added up to a total of $1,259,973 -- about $5.2 million in 2021 dollars -- Clarkson’s first million-dollar grant. With subsequent new grants, NASA funded Subramanian’s research continuously for 28 years.
Subramanian studied techniques for moving liquid drops and gas bubbles suspended in a liquid in a low gravity environment as well as methods for moving liquid drops on a horizontal solid surface.
He was the principal investigator of experiments flown aboard Space Shuttle missions in 1994 and 1996.
Subramanian served as chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering from 1986 to 1996. He received Clarkson’s John Graham Jr. Faculty Award for Research, the ASEE Dow Outstanding Young Faculty Award, the Clarkson Distinguished Teaching Award, Clarkson’s Outstanding Advisor Award, and (twice) the Omega Chi Epsilon Chemical Engineering Professor of the Year.
Subramanian was named a Clarkson professor emeritus in 2016 after 43 years as a faculty member.
After retirement, Subramanian continued his association with the Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering on a courtesy appointment, teaching an elective course to seniors in the spring semesters until 2020. Today, he says that he still tries to remain as professionally active as his health permits.