Second Petro Tel Distinguished Lecture


Professor K. S. Gandhi (IISc, Bangalore)


Modeling as a Vocation: A Personal Account


Tuesday, February 8, 2005


L- 1, Lecture Hall Complex


4.00 to 5.10 p.m.



At the highest level, research is a sublime combination of creativity and scholarship that creates profound knowledge. Scholarship emphasizes mastery of what is known and systematic acquisition, while creativity stresses generation. Research at the more common level is a middling mixture of the two. Mathematical modeling as research activity is an attempt at quantitative description of the heart of a complex phenomenon through creative simplifications. A few, like the continuum description of matter, are grandiose while many, like the penetration theory, are interesting and innovative. The large scope for expression of creativity through informed imagination, at a personal level, is the main attraction of modeling as a vocation. Modelers relish problems when description through the well known balance equations defies solution, and are challenged when problems are so complex that formulation of equations itself requires deep understanding and imagination. Galloping improvements, due mainly to increases in computational power, in the areas of molecular simulations and CFD make it possible to pursue approaches based on balance equations to solve classes of problems earlier attacked by modelers. This does encroach seriously on the traditional domain of modeling and threatens to shrink it. Modeling as an activity can drive researchers to search for interesting problems and turn them into nomads. Despite these twin threats, modeling as an activity is still relevant for gaining a creative research experience provided one is able to venture into the interdisciplinary areas and be prepared to acquire techniques. I will illustrate this through our experiences on modeling of multiphase systems.

About the Distinguished Speaker

Professor K S Gandhi is with the Department of Chemical Engineering, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. Prof. Gandhi obtained his BTech (Hons.) in chemical engineering from Andhra University in 1962, MS degree from the Ohio State University in 1965, and PhD in chemical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley in 1971. Subsequently, he joined the Department of Chemical Engineering, IIT Kanpur where he served as a faculty member until 1986. He then joined IISc Bangalore as a Professor. He spent two years (1974-76) as a Visiting Scientist at Pilkington R & D, UK. Prof. Gandhi's research interests are broadly in the areas of Transport phenomena in multi-phase systems, sono-chemical reaction engineering, polymer reaction engineering and polymer processing. Professor Gandhi is a Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore and the Indian National Academy of Engineering, New Delhi. He is also a member of the Editorial board of the journals `Chemical Engineering Research and Design (UK)', and `Indian Journal of Chemical Technology'.

In addition, Professor Gandhi is a teacher par excellence, and has successfully imbibed his passion for teaching and research to generations of students and colleagues

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About the Donor

The Petro Tel Distinguished Lecture series in Chemical Engineering at IIT Kanpur, has been endowed by a generous grant from Dr. Anil K. Chopra (B. Tech./ChE/IITK/1976; Ph. D., University of Houston, USA, 1982), President, CEO and Chairman of Petro Tel Inc., 5240 Tennyson Parkway, Suite 207, Plano, TX, USA.