Q&A with Srikanthan “Sri” Ramesh

IMSE PhD student Sri Ramesh
Sri Ramesh poses in Dr. Iris Rivero’s Interdisciplinary Manufacturing Engineering and Design lab inside Black Engineering Building on April 26, 2018. Photo by Nick Fetty

Srikanthan “Sri” Ramesh is a PhD student in industrial engineering and a graduate researcher in Dr. Iris Rivero‘s Interdisciplinary Manufacturing Engineering and Design lab. He was recently awarded the Wakonse Fellowship. “Wakonse” is the Lakota Indian term for “to teach, to inspire.” As part of the fellowship, Sri will attend a five-day conference at Camp Miniwanca in Michigan where participants disconnect from cell phones and internet to focus on workshops, networking, and other activities to improve their teaching skills. He plans to complete his degree requirements in spring 2020.

Tell us a bit about yourself: where are you from and when did you first become interested in engineering?

I earned my bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from India where I was born and raised. Honestly, I had no clue about what I signed up for when I enrolled for my bachelor’s degree but within a couple of semesters into my engineering program, I knew for sure that I wouldn’t have been happy and satisfied doing anything else. I find it hard to explain why I do what I do!

What opportunities will become available and what do you hope to accomplish during your time as a Wakonse Fellow?

The Wakonse fellowship is offered to five students from all over Iowa State every single year. The Wakonse fellows get the opportunity to represent Iowa State at a national conference on college teaching held in Michigan. The conference brings together faculty and teaching professionals from postsecondary institutions who recognize and are devoted to the inspirational aspect of the teaching process. I hope to learn more about myself as a teacher by interacting with people who share the same passion for teaching. I see myself coming back to Iowa State and applying some of the lessons from the conference to make a positive impact on my students.

Why did you choose to attend Iowa State? Why did you choose to study industrial engineering?

During the summer of 2014, I earned a summer research fellowship to work in the Advanced Nanoengineering Laboratory in the Indian Institute of Technology. I got to know about Iowa State from my adviser. I decided to apply to the IMSE department because of its interdisciplinary nature and also because of the strong manufacturing focus of the department.

Tell us a bit about your research interests and a project that you are currently working on.

I am interested in anything that relates manufacturing process with biomedical applications. I am currently working on developing polymeric composites that can be deposited using a bioprinter to make three dimensional architectures that could induce the growth of bones when placed in the human body.

From the perspective of a teacher/TA, what advice would you offer to current or incoming students?

As far as undergraduate students are concerned, I would encourage them to get involved in the undergraduate research opportunities that the department offers. I think it helps shape one’s scientific thinking and reasoning which is very important to be successful in the engineering profession. I would encourage them to try and consciously improve the way they think and solve problems by learning from experienced and successful professionals – be it a professor or a manager at an internship. And more importantly, an early realization of the fact that education is more than just grades can always be helpful.