Dr. R. Chandrasekaran
Professor of computer science and professor of operations research
Ashbel Smith Professor
Chandrasekaran knew as a teenager that he wanted to teach.
"When I had an exceptionally good teacher, I wondered why every teacher couldn't be as passionate and engaging about a subject," he said. "I wanted to become an exception for generations behind me.
"I strongly believe that those who do not have a passion for teaching have no place in the university."
After earning his bachelor's degree with honors in mechanical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay, Chandrasekaran earned his PhD in operations research from the University of California, Berkeley.
He specializes in mathematical modeling for making decisions. Some of his industry work matched National Football League players with teams, scheduled football games for the league and analyzed the most profitable locations to build a grocery store. He also designed the most cost-effective satellite networks for telecommunications companies.
Chandrasekaran said his time working or consulting for industry offered real-world experience to help him be a better instructor.
He taught at the University of California, Berkeley, and Case Western Reserve University before joining the UT Dallas faculty in 1975. He started in the management school and joined the engineering school in 1999. He currently teaches in both schools.
"Although the areas of applications are different, the methods used to solve them are basically the same, and I specialize in developing methods," he said.
Some of his students have now retired from faculty positions.
"My original answer to the question, 'When will you retire?' used to be, "When I stopped contributing,'" he said. "Now I say, 'I will retire at some point, because my body may want to.'"
But even then, he plans to teach advanced classes, which generally have small enrollment, on Fridays or Saturdays.
"That way my brain will keep active and I will raise the levels of students who are doing research," he said.
The University of Texas System supports the professorship.
Chandrasekaran has supervised more than 40 PhD students. Many of them have become faculty members at other universities, employees at leading companies, and one went on to become a Math Olympiad coach in India.
"My view of research is solving very difficult problems using entirely new ideas. If my students and or I contribute ideas that are intellectually strong – those make me very proud because they last for a long time."