Michigan Tech

Apr 19, 2016
IMG_2182
Snowy Spring Day last week

IMG_1582Fall Foliage in Houghton

IMG_2186
With Michigan Tech President Glenn Mroz and Mrs. Mroz

IMG_1576 IMG_1586 IMG_1590

 

 

Michigan Technological University (http://www.mtu.edu/) is a typical small Midwestern school with an enrollment of about 7000, 80% in STEM area. It is in situated out of the way in Michigan’s upper peninsula, area also known as Copper Country.  The area is very forgettable small town Americana, where winters are harsh and falls are at their colorful best. It is also my alma mater. I ended up there in the fall of 1967, fresh from India. I did my masters in EE there. I am very glad I spent my first two years in America there. America was in turmoil with race riots, protests against Vietnam War, murders of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy. It provided a stable, warm and friendly environment for me to settle down so far away from home.

Michigan Tech is known for producing best practical, hands on engineers. Most of them end up in Detroit’s automobile industry. It has one of the largest EE and ME programs in US and still has a graduate program in electrical power engineering, now working on things like smart grids. Very basic core capabilities that US still needs but many other schools have abandoned in favor of newer things. Michigan also has sizable programs in Computer Engineering, Computer Science and Computer Technology. As a small school it struggles to keep its breadth as it adds depth in many disciplines. As elsewhere, State funding has declined steadily over the years. It is also seen as a poor cousin of more famous University of Michigan and Michigan State Universities.

Like most alums, after I left Tech, I forgot about it as I focused on my career. After a year in New Jersey and another in Florida, I ended up in Silicon Valley. Over the years I rarely ran in to Tech Graduates (also known as Huskies). Back then Tech was not very good at keeping up with its alums either. I eventually reconnected with Tech in late nineties after I had more time on my hand. I returned to the campus almost 30 years after I had left. Now I go back twice a year, along with a handful of other tech alums from the Silicon Valley; most notable being Dave House, formerly of Intel, and now the chairman of Brocade. Our fall and spring pilgrimages are aimed at helping transform Tech, where it not only produces hands-on engineers but also technology leaders and entrepreneurs. We have provided a direct link to Silicon Valley for Tech students and faculty. There are Silicon Valley trips for students, most of them from mid-west, to show them what is going on beyond their horizons. After 15 years, this is starting to have an impact. Entrepreneurship has become a buzzword. School has Entrepreneurial club and Pavlis Honor School has a program in entrepreneurship and leadership. A Michigan Tech start-up, Handshake ( https://joinhandshake.com/) has moved to San Francisco and recently received its Series A funding from Kliener Perkins. Campus is abuzz and many more teams are forming.

Michigan Tech has 96% placement of its graduates, who on average make $62,800. It has 87% retention from freshman to sophomore year. Michigan Tech ranks among top 50 as the value for the money in various national surveys.

On a personal note, I and Ann endowed a building on the Campus for Computer Science department in 2005 (https://www.it.mtu.edu/classrooms/rekhi.php). We also endowed 5 perpetual scholarships for the needy students. It has been very satisfying experience to pay back to my alma mater for giving me a great start in US.

My Dad

Apr 18, 2016
Darji, Baji, Ruby and Ann
My Mother Raj Kaur, My Dad Maj. Bhagat Singh, Sister Ruby and Ann
Bhagat Singh Rekhi
My dad in his twenties

 

My dad Major Bhagat Singh Rekhi would have been 100 years today (April 18, 2016). He was born in village Sukho, Rawalpindi, Pakistan. He passed away back in 1974 in a motor cycle accident in Kanpur.

He was amazing person in many ways.

He was the first one in the family to matriculate from High School. He joined the army as a Jawan and went to the war in the North African theater. He returned from war as a Subhedar, the highest NCO rank. He eventually got commission as Second Lieutenant  on the eve Independence.

At the time of Independence he was only 31. His father had had a stroke and was paralyzed on one side of his body. Dad had to step up and take over as the head of the family. He had three unmarried sisters, and two unmarried brothers at the time, four children of his own. He had to take care of 13 people, including his parents, on his single salary. I never saw him complain about this once.

At the time of partition he had to bring his whole extended family, including the extended family of his dad across the border. I am told that  he went back and forth between Lahore and Ferozepur several times to ferry every body in the army truck he was allotted for his family. He moved from Ferozepur to Secunderabad, to Poona, to Agra and finally to Kanpur in six years. After that Family settled in Kanpur, but dad went on his postings alone after that. He eventually rose to the rank of Major in the army before he retired, a singular achievement for some body with his start.

He married off his three sisters and two brothers. Meanwhile, my grandfather had a second stroke and became quadriplegic. He was bed-ridden for last three years of his life until he passed away in 1958.

Dad, we called him Darji, put great emphasis on education. It was hard to get everybody in to proper school until Agra. I got my start in fourth grade! His hard work paid off when my late eldest brother got in to NDA in 1958 and came out as a 2nd Lieutenant 1961 and soon rose to the rank of Captain. Soon after that my elder brother Tony went to IMA and was also commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in 1965 and eventually reached the rank of Major before he took an early retirement. I got in to IIT in 1963 to do my engineering degree.

I personally never got very close to my dad. He just had too many things on his mind and I was doing too well to need any attention. I was not a favorite of his though, as I was an awkward and physically weak person. I was not seen as an officer material by him, but he became very proud of me after he discovered that the children of his senior officers, the ones he really looked up to, were not able to get in to IITs.

I left for US in 1967. I did not return for six years. I came back in fall of 1973 with my wife Ann. My dad had not approved of me getting married to an American in 1971 but he fell in love with my Ann first time he met her. I promised him a visit to England and US before I left. It was his lifelong dream.

If I could find a fault with him, it would have to be his rash driving. He had a fatal motorcycle accident in 1974.

I sponsored all my siblings for immigration to US. One by one they all came. My mother spent last 15 years of her life in US. We have an extended family of almost 40 people in the Bay Area now.

My dad never saw me achieve the great success I eventually did but I  know he is very proud up there in heaven looking down on his brood.