Subhash Mahajan, a distinguished professor in the UC Davis Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, collects awards and honors at a rate that can’t help raising eyebrows.
He began making waves in 1961, with a top ranking in his class at the Indian Institute of Science, in his native India. After obtaining a doctorate in materials science and engineering four years later from UC Berkeley, he worked for several years with the Atomic Energy Research Establishment in England, and then for a dozen years with AT&T Bell Labs, in the United States. He held academic positions in France, Belgium and Germany, and with the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, before joining the Arizona State University (ASU) faculty in 1997. He became chair of that institution’s Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering three years later.
Then the accolades really began to roll in.
In 2004, Mahajan received the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society’s National Educator Award. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering the following year. In 2006, he was elected to the board of trustees of ASM International, a leading worldwide metals and materials organization. That same year, he became director of ASU’s new School of Materials. In 2007, he became an ASU Regent’s Professor, an honor bestowed for outstanding accomplishments in teaching, scholarship, research and creative activities, along with national and international recognition in his field.
Upon learning of his Regent’s Professor honor, Mahajan modestly admitted “I think now I can say I made a good career decision.”
He joined the UC Davis Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science in late 2010. In June 2011, he was selected to deliver the 2013 Edward DeMille Campbell Memorial Lecture — presented annually by ASM International — which recognizes demonstrated ability in materials science and engineering. Two months later, he received the 2013 Albert Easton White Distinguished Teacher Award; this annual honor recognizes unusually long and devoted service in teaching, as well as significant accomplishments in materials science and engineering, and an unusual ability to inspire and impart enthusiasm to students.
“He worked in industry for decades; he knows how to take this material and break it down into real-life terms — little building-blocks — so it gets across to people who aren’t as familiar with the field,” notes Donna Schnell, one of his former graduate students.
Mahajan himself would agree: “Integration of my experience into my teaching and my research are very strong components of my teaching style.”
Honors, awards and high-profile positions do come with a price, though: increased demands on one’s time.
“More people call, asking me to give lectures,” Mahajan laughs, “and I get a lot more invitations to events.”
Such scheduling demands aside, he also recognizes the need for a break now and then.
“Once in awhile, I manage to read a book about something other than engineering.”
For more information on the College of Engineering’s 50th Anniversary Celebration, please email Oliver Ramsey.