RC Ramaswamy goes by RC and has doctorate degree in chemical engineering from Washington University in St. Louis. He's published and reviewed several peer-reviewed papers in many leading international journals and presented at multiple conferences. RC's specialities and areas of interest are Research and Development, Reaction engineering, Lab and Pilot Plant Experimentation, Modeling and Simulation, Multi-phase reactors, Data Analysis, Plant troubleshooting, Process improvement and Development, Six Sigma, Strategic analysis, Techno-Economic analysis, and acting as a liaison between industries and academia. RC's volunteer activities started in high school. Some of his notable positions/activities include 1) President of Placement (career) Committee (undergraduate), 2) President of the Graduate Indian Student Association at Wash University in St. Louis 3) Treasurer of Regional Indo-American Cultural Center, Kingsport 4) Volunteer at National Math Bee Contest, Engineers Week and 5) East TN AIChE local section volunteer (Program committee volunteer for year 2008-2009 and 2009-2010), Sessions Chair/co-Chair for 2010 national AIChE Meeting, Salt Lake City and Co-chair of recently concluded 2010 AIChE Leadership Development Conference.
Below is my recent interview with RC:
Lowell: Where are you from?
RC: I was born in Tenkasi, the foothills of Western Ghats in India (you can say southern tip of India) and currently living, along the appalachian trail, in Kingsport, TN working for Eastman Chemical Company.
Lowell: Where did you complete / are you completing your chemical engineering education?
RC: I did my bachelor's and master's in India from Anna University, Chennai and Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur respectively. I came to the U.S. in the Fall of 2001 for my PhD. I received my doctoral degree in chemical engineering from Washington University in St. Louis. The core area of my research is in Reaction Engineering, especially Coupling Exothermic and Endothermic Reactions. My doctoral advisors are Prof. Ramachandran and Prof. Dudukovic--reaction engineering experts!
Lowell: How long have you been a member of AIChE?
RC: Almost five years.Before coming to the U.S., I was a member of IIChE (Indian institute of chemical engineers!)--a sister organization to AIChE.
Lowell: What company/institution do you work for?
RC: Currently I am employed by Eastman Chemical Company in Kingsport, TN for the last 41/2 years as their development engineer. Before coming to the U.S., I was working for Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd, Mumbai as their research engineer for two years.
Lowell: Describe a recent challenge you managed, notable achievement, or obstacle you overcame at your job or in your work as an AIChE member?
RC: I am strong believer of communication and team work. Communication is both an art and science and evolves with time. It's important to choose the appropriate engagement and communication skills to succeed in workplace and in volunteer activities. I would like to talk a little about the recently concluded and widely acclaimed 2010 LDC. The success of this event comes from the highly motivated volunteer team we had to work with. I really saw a new definition to volunteerism during the event. I viewed the entire event as assembling a LEGO puzzle. Various sub-teams, their leaders, and volunteers will work hard and deliver results as a result of the conference.. My role at the leadership event was that of a coordinator who sees a complete picture (and at the same time pays attention to details) and knows when and how to assemble the puzzle. In the professional world we refer to this as project management. We delivered it. The challenge was to remain on budget and due to our careful planning and execution, the event produced a small profit for the first time in LDC's history. How did I know I did a good job? On the last day of the conference, I was giving a presentation on how to organize an LDC to the participants. Prior to this, I had received compliments from AIChE directors and officers, which I was very grateful for. But for the first time, I also got a thank you card from my fellow colleagues. That card moved me deeply and I recognized how these young colleagues showed their appreciation of volunteer efforts. I didn't expect it but it allows me to believe that these volunteers were mentored well. I saw them as leaders. What could bring greater satisfaction than to see and be a part of the growth of your colleagues? Yes, a good team allows one to achieve great things beyond one's imagination.
Lowell: What do you do to meet people in your field?
RC: Mostly I meet the people in my field through conferences, seminars and especially conference banquets/reception. Within Kingsport, I come across many new engineers by attending local AIChE meetings/events, professional club events, participating in outreach programs such as Engineers Week. On more technical side, sending a note to the corresponding authors of peer-reviewed journal papers will help build the network and benefit you in professional and personal life. These days I am getting to know more people through ChEnected and other chemical engineering forums in Orkut. Great believer of Networking.
Lowell: Tell us a little bit about yourself... What is one of your hobbies? How do you spend your spare time? What's your favorite place to travel? Or anything else you'd like to share...
RC: My hobbies are writing poems, reading, listening to music and hiking. I am great admirer of Thirukural, the 1330 couplets written in Tamil language some 2000 years ago and some of the verses are very relevant to these days (an English version of this poem/book is available). I am also a great fan of poet Robert Frost and I like this verses of him, "And Miles to go before I sleep and Miles to go before I sleep". Of course I enjoy traveling and I don't have one favorite place to mention. I like the Grand Canyon, The Smokies, Paris, Manali (In India), etc. I have been to The Smokies more often than any other place. Spending a week in The Smokies every year is definitely good for one's health (Don't ask for a proof, at least not for this!).
Lowell: Where can readers ChEnect with you (other than ChEnected)?
RC: I'd like to ChEnect on Facebook and the Chenected website. There are some volunteer moderated forums in Orkut (www.orkut.com). I would like to see AIChE/Chenected in Orkut ! My favorite request: There should be an app for Chenected/AIChE.
Image: RC at the Grand Canyon