Alumnus wins ISM top chair

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  • Published 10.09.11

ISM Dhanbad may have got a new director on Friday, but to the cradle, he’s an old boy.

Durga Charan Panigrahi (50), a 1984-batch alumnus of mining engineering, is heading his alma mater. The dynamic scholar, who has taught at the prestigious institute for almost 20 years, rose to the top from rural origins in Orissa.

Known to be fuss-free, Panigrahi merely shifted from a room at mining engineering department to the director’s chamber situated in the administrative building.

He’d joined the ISM as an assistant professor from 1992. From 1998 onwards till Thursday, he served his alma mater as professor.

Allowing the briefest entry of emotion, the scholar recalled his father Harihar Panigrahi, now deceased. “He was a farmer, but extremely progressive,” the eldest among five siblings smiled.

He also thanked Dhanbad, where he came to study after his intermediate. “I’ve been here for 27 years. The city is like my hometown,” he said.

It’s easy to see that the distinguished alumnus is popular on campus. ISM Teachers’ Association president V.K. Srivastava welcomed Panigrahi’s elevation warmly. “With him at the helm, we teachers look forward to the ISM’s growth in India and abroad,” he said.

Panigrahi started out, like most engineering graduates, with a corporate career. Fresh from college, he was assistant manager in Tata Steel’s raw material division in 1984, but realised academics was his calling.

The recipient of the prestigious national mineral award (1998) given by the ministry of mines and minerals of Government of India, he edited a book titled “Mine Environment and Ventilation” and has 63 published research papers, including 35 in global journals.

But he’s not a dyed-in-the-wool academic. If anything, he’s a realist.

“Upgrading syllabus based on industry needs is priority. We must make students ready for jobs,” he said, adding the quality of teaching had to be top-notch. ISM, in fact, has been demanding that it be upgraded to IIT status.

“Today’s teaching must address real-time needs and pressures,” the scholar signed off.