Two new appointments have recently been bestowed upon Iowa State alumnus Shreekanth Mandayam. Rowan University has named him executive director of the South Jersey Technology Park (SJTP) and associate provost for research at Rowan, giving Mandayam new, exciting responsibilities.
“As executive director, I manage SJTP, which is a collaborative effort between the state of New Jersey and Rowan University to revive the economy of southern New Jersey through an integrated strategy of technology transfer initiatives,” explains Mandayam.
SJTP is home to many of Rowan’s research initiatives, including research laboratories, the Rohrer College of Business Incubator, and the Imaging and Virtual Reality Lab. Sponsors for the research at SJTP include the National Science Foundation, NASA, US Navy, US Department of Commerce—Economic Development Administration, US Department of Energy, American Cancer Society, and ExxonMobil.
Mandayam’s position as executive director is a joint appointment with his position as associate provost for research, where he promotes, supports, administers, and facilitates the research and other activities of Rowan faculty, staff, and students. With over 10,000 students, 300 faculty members, and four campuses, he is definitely in for a challenge.
Mandayam says holding the complementary positions will be rewarding. “I have the ability to initiate programs that foster the creation of intellectual property through faculty and student research and development; transfer this technology to the marketplace; and benefit the economy of the state and the region,” says Mandayam.
Over the years, Mandayam has been very active in both academia and research, making his new positions at Rowan a prefect match to his life interests. In 1990, he received his bachelor’s degree in electronics engineering from Bangalore University in India, and then completed his master’s in electrical engineering in 1993 and his PhD in electrical engineering, specifically communications and signal processing, in 1996 from Iowa State University. During this time, he also worked in a variety of prominent research roles. He served as a research consultant for GE-Global Research, a research associate for the National Academies at NASA’s Stennis Space Center, and a research associate at Iowa State.
As a faculty member, Mandayam has held positions at Rowan, Iowa State, and the R.V. College of Engineering in Bangalore. He joined Rowan in 1997, where he has served as professor of electrical and computer engineering and most recently as chair of the department from 2006 to 2011.
He conducts his research in SJTP’s Imaging and Virtual Reality Lab, which he also directs. The laboratory houses Rowan’s Cave Automatic Virtual Environment, or CAVE®, where Mandayam and his colleagues have used virtual technology to simulate rocket-engine tests for NASA, develop techniques for remediating flooding in urban areas, and remotely diagnose problems in shipboard systems for the US Navy. “We have demonstrated the use of virtual reality simulations for generating cost-effective solutions to problems in complex systems, allowing users to ask ‘what if?’ questions so they can diagnose a host of anomalous conditions,” he explains.
In his newest roles at Rowan, Mandayam says his goals will shift from conducting his own specific research to more broadly promoting SJTP and the university to high-tech companies in the area. “I intend to showcase Rowan University as the technology transfer hub in the region, advocate for the technical expertise of our faculty, and foster the establishment of businesses that can hire our graduates and contribute to the economic development of south Jersey.” He adds that the opportunity to make a difference is what excites him most.