Last month, distinguished university professor Sundararaja Sitharama Iyengar received an honorary doctorate of science from Poznan University of Technology in Poland. In a grand ceremony, Iyengar had his name installed on a list of recipients from decades past and then lectured on a single area of his vast expertise: cybersecurity and digital forensics trends.
Iyengar was chosen for the prestigious award following a rigorous review of his academic and scientific record and confirmation by a second Polish university. Iyengar’s international reputation follows outstanding achievement in innovative research, inspiring teaching, and excellence in service. His research and education interests include high-performance intelligent systems, data science and machine learning algorithms, sensor fusion, and data mining.
He is a member of the National Academy of Inventors with seven shared patents. He is a member of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, the American Association for Advancement of Science and the Association of Computing Machinery. He has published more than 600 articles and is the author, co-author or editor of 32 books.
In addition to being highly cited by other scholars, Iyengar has received numerous accolades, including Lifetime Achievement Awards and Outstanding Research Awards from organizations around the world. He has mentored 165 graduate students in addition to undergraduate students. From 2011 to 2020, he was director of the since-renamed Knight Foundation School of Computing and Information Sciences.
Unlike in the United States, where the awarding of an honorary degree is often part of the graduation exercises, in Poland it took place as an event in its own right and involved rituals dating back hundreds of years.
“The awarding of honorary degrees is a rich tradition in European universities and I consider it one of the jewels of my life,” said Iyengar. “The ceremony was an important occasion, not only for me but also for my family.” His son and 13-year-old grandson both attended.
An official at the Poznan University of Technology, or PUT, explained the importance of elevating Iyengar as an outstanding contributor in a line of those who have advanced the field.
“The evolution of the Internet of Things in this modern civilization is influenced by outstanding and creative scientists who, through their research activity, go beyond their existing schemes,” said Teofil Jesionowski, whose title of rector is equivalent to that of a university president in the United States. “In its 100-year history, PUT has awarded this prestigious title to only 43 people.”
The PUT is one of many partner institutions of the FIU, a relationship based on an agreement and a mutual desire to work together in various ways. The day in honor of Iyengar was another step towards promoting activities and exchanges between the two universities, added Jesionowski.
Iyengar first caught the attention of Polish university researchers and administrators when he visited there as a Fulbright specialist in 2019, at which time he worked with faculty and students on the study ‘Smart Cities: A Mobile and Social Networking Approach’ . Out of that successful project grew a collaboration with a PUT researcher that resulted in two co-authored books and four articles, as well as a continuing learning opportunity for their respective student teams.
PUT PhD student Konrad Śniatała spent three months at FIU conducting research in computer science under the supervision of Iyengar. “Professor Iyengar’s work is cutting edge and in line with my interests,” Śniatala explained. “So I asked him if he would serve as my PhD. supervisor and he agreed.
At FIU, those who know Iyengar understand why he is held in such high regard abroad.
PhD student Yashas Hariprasad has worked with Iyengar on several projects and commends him for starting a mentorship program for underprivileged students in Bangalore, India.
“The program is just another way Dr. Iyengar and his late wife have given back to their home community,” Hariprasad said of the Indian-born couple.
Jerry Miller MA alumnus’82, MS ’11, PhD ’23, who works in computer science school and calls Iyengar a mentor, said of him: “Any one or two of Dr. Iyengar’s successes would have meant a successful career for most people, but Dr. Iyengar is not like most people. He is a man of exceptional energy, grit and intellectual curiosity, with a love of knowledge and zest for life”.
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