IIT Alumni Council confers Life Fellowships to four eminent alumni

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(L-R) Parag Shah, Srinivas Rachakonda, Satish Mehta)

Our Bureau
New Delhi

The IIT Alumni Council has announced institutional strengthening of PanIIT Institute, an independent and autonomous partner alumni organization engaged in the development of an end-to-end deeptech Research Ecosystem in India – through the appointment of Life Fellows in the area of operations research, quantitative analysis and data analytics.  This domain complements emerging core areas like big data, artificial intelligence and data analytics.

This is the second domain for selection of Life Fellows after Martech. Whilst the Distinguished Fellow program seeks to identify future Nobel Prize winners and researchers, the Life Fellow program aspires to identify future industry leaders in identified focus areas for the Research India initiative under the India Innovation Network.

“Competence, long term commitment, sharp domain focus and a leading position among IIT alumni is the hallmark of a Life Fellow.  Unlike other similar awards, the jury here seeks to identify winners based on their future potential rather than on the basis of their past laurels. The Life Fellow program of the PanIIT Institute identifies, evaluates and awards the most distinguished alumnus in each industry for a given umbrella competence area such as Martech, QuantTech, AI, HeathTech etc based on their future potential and relevance.” said Ravi Sharma, President and Chief Volunteer of the IIT Alumni Council.

Sanjay Nagi has been selected by the jury for his professional excellence in the subject of Decision Support Research that is emerging as an important competency in an age where data is the new oil. “One of my contributions that I am proud of is a unique model for inter relationship of R&D and Innovation which is being used by the GOI for policy inputs on impacting higher innovation through R&D” he added.

Parag Shah is the winner of the FundaMan Challenge Competition that was held to determine the most suitable algorithm for pool testing. Based on his algorithm, it became possible to test 3 to 4X the number of people in molecular diagnostic testing systems such as RTPCR which have historically used one sample per test. “As an IT Services professional for over thirty years – I have learnt the value of first principles-based analysis – and prefer to start from scratch rather than be influenced by a supposed solution which may not be what it seems to be” he added.

Srinivas Rachakonda has been a thought leader in the area of petroleum refinery optimization. Starting off as a hands-on shift engineer in the Bharat Petroleum refinery – over the next thirty years, he went on to design, build, operate and optimize some of the largest grassroot petroleum refineries in the world. “As engineers, we sometimes forget that tuning a refinery is about maximizing profit, not just maximizing output” he added.

Satish Mehta started off as a passionate amateur photographer and cinematographer – to finally evolve into a leading photogrammetry expert. Over the last thirty-five years – starting off with India’s first winning entry at the Cannes Film Festival, he has gravitated to developing some of the most complex imaging solutions – both equipment as well as processing software/ algorithms – in areas ranging from satellite imaging to bio energy field scanning to microscopic recognition.  “Inspite of all the advances in optics and electronics, we don’t as yet have an imaging system that can beat a pin hole camera or the human eye. However, computer vision can now do things including multispectral scanning which is beyond the range of the human eye opening a whole new world of things that we could never see” he added  

Profiles of Fellows 

Parag Shah
Parag Shah holds a BTech in Mechanical Engineering from IIT Bombay 1987. He has been a self-made entrepreneur in the area of bespoke algorithm development, IT Services and database management.  He founded MechSoft which was a pioneer in software for mechanical engineering and AutoCAD type software working on client projects around the world.  Parag shot into prominence in March 2020 when a self-learning algorithm developed by him for pool testing was adjudged as the best in the world by an eminent jury led by Padma Sri Manvendra Agarwal. This algorithm now known as the PSA algorithm drives robotic automation for pool testing in several high-capacity labs including MegaLab Mumbai. 

The PSA Algorithm helped increase testing in Mumbai by over 200% without needing any test kits of incremental machines. This quantum leap in testing was primarily responsible for containing the Covid outbreak in Dharavi and other slum clusters. This approach in addition to increasing testing capacity almost overnight, also led to a proportional reduction in testing costs as now three+ individuals could be tested for the cost of one RTqPCR test.  


Srinivas Rachakonda
Srinivas’s experience spans more than 32 years in the Oil & Gas industry in key positions with industry leaders in India like McKinsey, Essar, Reliance & Bharat Petroleum, Dangote in Africa and global technology giant in Refinery space, Aspen Technology.  He is pioneer in this in India having been a key person in establishing the Economic Planning & Scheduling for the world’s biggest Refinery of Reliance. He played an important role in coming with the most optimal configuration that Reliance adopted. Srinivas is currently Director, Business Strategy at Dangote Oil Refinery which is building World’s biggest grassroots Refinery and Petrochemical complex.  He played a pivotal role in doubling the capacity of Essar Oil with minimal investment. He also played a critical role in Refinery acquisition and raising billion of $ from the market. As a Senior Advisor in McKinsey’s Oil & Gas Practice in India, he played a key role in helping multiple refineries on margin maximization and supply chain transformation.  Srinivas trained and implemented Economic Planning, Scheduling & Supply Chain Management systems and worked for maximizing profitability of almost all Refineries in India and many in Asia Pacific and Middle East. You can hardly find any person in any key position who is working in this space who had not interacted with Srinivas. 

Known for interpersonal skills and building team, Srinivas has set up supply chain organization and business processes for multiple corporates. He is renowned speaker in various conferences on Supply Chain Management. Srinivas is an avid trekker and regularly hikes western Ghats over weekends. He has also summitted Mount Kilimanjaro and Everest base camp twice. Srinivas is self-learned ornithologist and regular visitor to migratory bird paradise across India for photography. He is an Environmentalist at heart and was instrumental in starting nature club in Jamnagar and HOPE Nature Trust near Mumbai which works on tree plantation, wildlife education, water conservation etc. He is currently working on his dream project of building wildlife park for flora and fauna conservation.

Satish Mehta
Satish Mehta holds a BTech in Chemical Engineering from IIT Bombay and an MMS in Operations Research from JBIMS, Mumbai University.  From 1987 to 2002, Satish worked with the accountancy Firm A.F.Ferguson & Co. Since 2003, he has been working in the Impact and Fund management space. He serves on the Investment Committees and Boards of several Private Equity Funds as the Compliance & Regulatory head. 

Right from his college days, he has been very passionate about photography and indigenization. He received the Acharya PC Ray award from the President of India in 1987 for designing the main reactor for the gas-based urea plants. His first cinematographic project – an English feature film Nuclear Winter – won the Cannes Film Festival award in the special category in 1988.  In 2002, he helped set up PanIIT India and was Chairman of the participation committee of the first PanIIT Conclave held in 2004. He has been an active volunteer with various PanIIT alumni initiatives including the IIT Alumni Council and the PanIIT Fund. He has been actively involved in creating the start-up ecosystem in India and has served on many working groups and committees including the BSE SME, Digital India and Make in India Investment  Boards. 

Satish is an amateur film maker and an enthusiastic photographer. Over the last three decades, he has emerged as one of the leading professional practitioners in the area of photogrammetry which involves using imaging sensor outputs for a variety of highly technology intensive applications in areas like biofield sensing, 3D projection, image enhancement, lossless compression, parallax assessment and computer vision. He serves as a visiting faculty in the area of photogrammetry  and has authored several studies on the subject.  

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