Anantha Chandrakasan: A People-Centered and Innovative Leader and Dean of MIT’s School of Engineering

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Anantha P. Chandrakasan (Photo: Patsy Sampson)

CAMBRIDGE, MA—When Anantha Chandrakasan was named Dean of the School of Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology earlier this year, MIT Provost Martin Schmidt described Chandrakasan as “a people-centered and innovative leader.”

“I tend to be a people person,” Chandrakasan said at the time. “Of course data is always important, but it’s not where I start. I’m like the quarterback who throws it up in the end zone. I try things, and some of them don’t work, which I’m totally fine with; other things we try and then refine. But I do a lot of homework, talking to students and faculty, getting feedback, and incorporating them to improve our efforts.”

Chandrakasan will be honored at the New England Choice Awards gala on Oct. 27 at Westin Hotel in Waltham, MA, in the category of Academics.

Eight Indian-American achievers and two non-profit  organizations will receive New England Choice Awards at a black-tie gala on Oct. 27 at Westin Hotel in Waltham. In addition, the husband and wife team of MITHAS founder George Ruckert and New England’s Kathak dance pioneer Gretchen Hayden Ruckert will be honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

About 400 entrepreneurs, corporate executives, philanthropists, educators and community leaders are expected to attend the New England Choice Awards gala, which is presented annually by the INE MultiMedia in collaboration with INDIA New England News, the region’s oldest and largest online, print and video magazine serving the South Asian community.

To buy a ticket for the NECA gala, please click here.

Anantha P. Chandrakasan (Photo: Patsy Sampson)

Chandrakasan is the Vannevar Bush Professor at MIT and served as head of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, known as EECS. During his six-year tenure as head of MIT’s largest academic department, Chandrakasan spearheaded a number of initiatives that opened opportunities for students, postdocs, and faculty to conduct research, explore entrepreneurial projects, and engage with EECS.

“Anantha balances his intellectual creativity and infectious energy with a remarkable ability to deeply listen to, learn from, and integrate other people’s views into a compelling vision,” MIT President L. Rafael Reif had said when Chandrakasan was appointed dean. “In a time of significant challenges, from new pressures on federal funding to the rising global competition for top engineering talent, I am confident that Anantha will guide the School of Engineering to maintain and enhance its position of leadership. And I believe that in the process he will help make all of MIT stronger, too.”

Since joining the MIT faculty in 1994, Chandrakasan has produced a significant body of research focused largely on making electronic circuits more energy efficient. His early work on low-power chips for portable computers helped make possible the development of today’s smartphones and other mobile devices. More recently, his research has addressed the challenge of powering even more energy-constrained technologies, such as the “internet of things” that would allow many everyday devices to send and receive data via networked servers while being powered from a tiny energy source.

Born in Chennai, India, Chandrakasan moved to the United States while in high school. His mother was a biochemist and Fulbright scholar, and he enjoyed spending time in her lab where she conducted research on collagen.

“I always knew I wanted to be an engineer and a professor,” he says. “My mother really inspired me into an academic career. When I entered graduate school, I knew on day one that I wanted to be academic professor.”

Chandrakasan earned his bachelor’s (1989), master’s (1990), and doctoral (1994) degrees in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California at Berkeley — the latter two after being rejected from MIT’s graduate program. After joining the MIT faculty, he was the director of the Microsystems Technology Laboratories (MTL) from 2006 until he became the head of EECS in 2011.

Chandrakasan is a recipient of awards including the 2009 Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) University Researcher Award, the 2013 IEEE Donald O. Pederson Award in Solid-State Circuits, an honorary doctorate from KU Leuven in 2016, and the UC Berkeley EE Distinguished Alumni Award. He was also recognized as the author with the highest number of publications in the 60-year history of the IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC), the foremost global forum for presentation of advances in solid-state circuits and systems-on-a-chip. Since 2010, he served as the ISSCC Conference Chair. A fellow of IEEE, in 2015 he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

He lives in Belmont, Massachusetts, with his wife and three children.

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