By Daria Kroupoderava
Northwest Asian Weekly
Dr. Vikram Jandhyala had everything fall into place at the right time. He is Vice Provost of Innovation at University of Washington (UW) and is the first Indian American to hold this position.
Before becoming Vice Provost of Innovation, Jandhyala was chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering at UW. His term as chair was coming to an end and Jandhyala had a choice: continue being chair or go back to his research.
“Just as that happened, I got a ping from the Provost saying ‘… there’s another opportunity you might be interested in,” and basically that’s how (getting the position) started…it was just perfect timing,” he said. The position was very interesting to Jandhyala so he decided to go for it.
The Vice Provost job duty used to be the Executive Director of the Center of Commercialization at UW, which handles issues such as Intellectual Property and startups, among others. Now, the new role is broader than being the executive director. The Vice Provost is looking at “how as the university can we innovate in areas of working with industry, working internationally, new modes of education, especially where we can get students to look outward, more problem solving rather than analysis,” he said.
Jandhyala wants students from different departments, such as law or medicine, to look at societal problems and work together.
With four months under his belt, Jandhyala said he’s been reaching out to different departments on campus, such as the school of medicine, the law school, and the UW-Bothell campus. “Everyone is being receptive to work together so that’s really great,” he said.
There are also plans that are part of the “innovation agenda” that will be put into play over the next few years, which will be planning out building spaces and programs. Jandhyala said there is nothing tangible to show right now, but that’s because these programs need time to grow.
Jandhyala is one of nine people being honored on Oct. 18 at the Diversity at the Top dinner. He said he was surprised but honored to be chosen.
“Honestly, I don’t feel the glass ceiling here at UW, which is a great thing,” he said. “I think UW is a very egalitarian place, which is great.”
Education, focus, dedication to work, networking are all factors Jandhyala said people need if they want to be in top positions. “Do what comes naturally to you and do it to your best ability…don’t be too humble or behind the scenes,” he said.
Jandhyala received his masters and doctorate degrees from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the late 90s. He has also received many honors including the Inventor Award from NASA in 2008 and Outstanding Research Advisor Award from from the Department of Electrical Engineering at UW in 2004.
In his spare time, Jandhyala spends his time with his two sons and his two cats, and also plays squash, a sport he has enjoyed playing for about 25 years. (end)
Daria Kroupoderava can be reached at email@example.com.