Published: 04th September 2018
Why IIIT-H's Ramesh Loganathan quit the corporate world for the classroom
Ramesh Loganathan was at the top of his tech food chain when he quit it all to teach at IIIT-H. Today, he drives innovation and entrepreneurship through all that he does
When Ramesh Loganathan used to drive back home after finishing a class as the Adjunct Faculty at the Indian Institute of Information and Technology, Hyderabad (IIIT-H), a satisfied smile would spread across his face — a sign that he was happy with how the class had gone. And when the smiles started increasing in frequency, he knew it was time to dedicate himself to teaching full-time.
And though Loganathan has been a part of IIIT-H since 2002 (and visiting faculty at IIT Hyderabad since 2011), he gave up his job as the MD and VP-Products at Progress Software India (he has also worked in Pramati Technologies and Shell among other places), and took up teaching with gusto. "With every passing year as adjunct faculty, my engagement with the institute grew richer and I was drawn deeper into it," says the 50-year-old professor. By this, he means that the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) had started, which he now leads and so did the Academic Council, which he is now a member of. Loganathan, today, is the Professor for Co-innovation and Head Research/Innovation Outreach and he comes with a solid 25 years of industry experience in product development, middleware technology and more.
He is one of the founders of Headstart Network, better known through their flagship programme Startup Saturdays. He has also been the President of Hyderabad Software Enterprises Association (HYSEA)
And if you've attended one of Professor Loganathan's classes, you would know how he likes to keep it interactive. "I lead the students towards what I want to teach so that they connect with the lesson," says the professor who was born in a small village near Vellore, Tamil Nadu. He loves to use the blackboard and ask several questions in class. He had started off at IIIT-H by teaching a course on middleware systems, but moved on to teaching courses like internals of application servers, technology product entrepreneurship and more. He teaches three hours a week, while the rest of the time he dedicates to the incubator at the institute, involving industry in academia and as a member of the Academic Council, he contributes towards structuring courses and strengthening the institute.
A point to note is that Professor Loganathan's dedication is not limited to the field of education but also includes start-ups. Not only did he serve as the Chief Innovation Officer of Telangana State Innovation Cell (TSIC), he was also honoured by state cabinet minister K T Rama Rao on Telangana Formation Day last year for his contribution towards the growth of start-ups. "I still actively help set up academic incubators through the TSIC at Osmania University, Jawaharlal Nehru Architecture and Fine Arts University and at other institutes," says the professor who was brought up in Andhra and has studied in Sriharikota.
In talks: Loganathan feels that unless South India does away with its singular obsession with engineering and bagging a job at an MNC, things will remain the same
Ask Loganathan about the atmosphere of entrepreneurship and he says it is upbeat, exciting and definitely on an upswing. He also informs that not many are aware that in Hyderabad, between CSIR, agriculture and defence, the city has as many as 27 non-academic research labs. "Efforts are on to unlock the research intellect and create market products. It's a bubble waiting to explode and surprise. It gives us a very unique positioning in the country," explains Loganathan, who has been working in the US and came to Hyderabad in 2000.
When it comes to the state of the education system, he point blankly says it's just sad. "If you are working in the industry you can remain disinterested but a teacher needs to be motivated and inspired, whereas now those who haven't got in anywhere else become teachers," says Loganathan who credits the resilience of students who find their calling, in spite of the state of the education system. One of his suggestions to make it better? A fellowship for visiting faculty in a bid to enrich students with industry experience consistently by incentivising professionals. "There is no college who would say no to good quality faculty," says the professor.
Loganathan has worked in the product R&D space, product engineering and middleware technologies and has an industry experience of 25 years
Next on Loganathan's mind is the will to explore deep tech innovation - an area where they are investing a lot of time and effort. He is also concentrating on getting products out of the research student innovation lab. Among all that he does, we ask Loganathan what's the high point of his week? "It's still the same, a class well taken," he smiles.
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