Suresh Becomes the New Dean of Engineering; Magnanti Steps Down

Subra Suresh PhD ’81, professor in the Department of Material Science and Engineering, was appointed as the new dean of engineering in June, effective July 23. Suresh replaced Institute Professor Thomas L. Magnanti, who was dean since 1999, according to the MIT News Office.

Suresh said that he has previously held many leadership positions in and outside of MIT. Outside of MIT, he was a professor at Brown University for 10 years and editor-in-chief of the international journal Acta Materialia. At MIT, Suresh was appointed to DMSE, eventually serving as its head until he stepped down in 2005.

Suresh also said that he holds joint faculty appointments in the Mechanical Engineering Department, the Biological Engineering Department, and the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. As the new dean of engineering, he will now oversee about 40 percent of the MIT faculty, Suresh said.

“The good thing is that MIT has many top leading engineering departments,” Suresh said. “MIT has a relatively decentralized engineering school. As daunting as it may seem, this is more of a team effort.”

Suresh said that he hopes to initiate some engineering programs while continuing the improvement of existing programs such as the Undergraduate Practice Opportunities Program, started by the previous dean.

“I would like to focus on greater interdisciplinary interaction between engineering departments and between schools,” Suresh said.

“As department head, I had personal experience pioneering the infrastructure of the nanotechnology labs in the Infinite,” Suresh said. “I would like to see similarly more visible, modern activity take place across the school for better education and communication.”

According to the MIT News Office, Suresh has played a key role in devising a new undergraduate curriculum and a new masters of engineering degree program. In addition to the nanotechnology laboratories along the Infinite Corridor, Suresh has also worked closely with the Department of Physics to construct the Physics, DMSE, Spectroscopy and Infrastructure project, scheduled to finish in 2007.

As an active proponent of international, interdisciplinary research, Suresh founded the Singapore-MIT Alliance. After he stepped down as the head of DMSE, Suresh also became the founding director of the Global Enterprise for Micromechanics and Molecular Medicine, which links several U.S. universities with other universities around the world.

“Engineering is not an easy major for students to study abroad their junior year,” Suresh said. “In an increasingly globalized world, we need to help our students become global citizens and leaders, not just academically but culturally as well.”

According to Suresh, he received his mechanical engineering bachelor’s degree at the Indian Institute of Technology. He obtained his doctoral degree in mechanical engineering at MIT and conducted two years of postdoctoral research at the University of California, Berkeley. Suresh was elected into the National Academy of Engineering in 2002.