message on behalf of many colleagues and friends who have been deeply
by the vision and humanity of Professor Norman Dahl - from the Alumni
Kanpur, now scattered across the globe, from the current Director at
Kanpur, Prof. Sanjay Dhande, a host of current and former faculty and
and from participants of the Kanpur Indo American Program.
Only a remarkable man could embark on such an
adventure to this far-off country called India so many years ago, and
all deeply grateful for the way Professor Dahl has impacted so many of
must begin with my own personal fond memories of the Dahls. In 1962, the Dahl children, Christian and
Sabra accompanied their parents on their bold journey to Kanpur, India. I was a student at the Methodist High School, and Sabra was in my
third-grade class -
Mrs. Daisy Erasmus was our teacher. My older brother, Ranavir was a
of Christian. They were the first Americans my brother and I knew. The American children, all part of the KIAP
program, came to school in these giant, Jeep station wagons, and I
badly wanting a ride in them as they were ‘left-hand-drive’ and
‘air-conditioned’ – rather cool concepts for a third grader in India. Well, Sabra decided to call me home for a
play date one day, and I rode to her house in one of these Jeeps. I
meeting Norman that evening, and my hand
engulfed in his as he shook hands with me.
I played teacher-student with Sabra that evening – I think it is
say that the one game 40 years ago inspired me to become a Professor!
my brother Ranavir and I entered IIT Kanpur as undergraduate students.
remember a class, Engineering Science 211, where I had a personally
book by Profs Crandall (cf.
Professor Crandall played the piano and reminisced eloquently
about Norman, and the
writing of the book – what a treat!)and Dahl. The book was first
owned by our cousin Uday,
handed to Ranavir and finally to me. Thirty years down the road, I
several things from that book quite clearly (I probably should remember
but those were the days when our attention spans in classes were short)
Mohr’s circle diagram, the thin shell approximation, and a fourth order
differential equation whose solution could predict the state of stress
bodies. I am certain that many here
today and many others around the world can trace the beginnings of
mechanics careers to this remarkable book.
Dahl was a great educator and more important, a true visionary. These flowers are a small token from all of
us who were touched by him in the city of Kanpur, the faculty he recruited
at IIT Kanpur,
the American faculty and staff who participated in this adventure and
alumni (many of whom never knew Dr. Dahl directly) whose lives were
Dr. Dahl’s courageous and imaginative leadership.
for being such a pioneer, Prof Dahl. You have inspired and touched
lives here and halfway round the globe. And thanks to Dorothy,
Sabra for sharing Norman with us.