This article was published in Sampada-96 with inputs from various alumni about Prof B R Narayan Iyengar
It is our effort to make BRN’s contribution to society available to all our Fellow Alumni, his students ,his colleagues and associates / admirers in the Institution of Engineers (India) and in Major Industries of India. Prof B R Narayan Iyengar was very popular; dynamic; able and kind Principal of U C E during our GOLDEN PERIOD, 1957 to 60 AND 1963 to 1965. We are proud of our GOLDEN DAYS. We need to remember, write & publish life sketch of our GREAT MASTERS and cherish it with pride and honor.
B R N, after his retirement from service as College of Engineering , BANGALORE Principal, was closely associated with the Institution of Engineers (India) & was in the Governing Council and also served as All India chairman during the year 1986-87. He was the life Member and Ex Officio Chairman and one of the Chief Patrons of the “ UVCE ALUMNI ASSOCIATION” and had contributed a lot for the present SILVER JUBILEE building of the Alumni association. Prof V BYRAPPA, Prof S G Chandrashekariah ,Prof Y V Aswathanarayana Rao, Prof Abdullah Sherriff, ER B T LAKSHMAN, Prof B L Sreenivasamurthy and others were closely associated with him.
He was fond of paying Tennis regularly. He was a good Basketball player. He was the Chairman of Mysore State Basketball Association and State Swimming Association. He was the Chairman of University of Mysore Sports Committee and member of the Senate. He was also associated with MYSORE TECHNICAL EDUCATION SOCIETY (MTES) and served as President from 1993 to 1994. He was the mentor/advisor and associated in creating infrastructure and facilities in M.E.I Polytechnic, located in Rajajinagar 4th Block, BANGALORE, which is now recognized as the best Polytechnic in Karnataka. MEI Polytechnic Students and admirers of Prof BRN founded the “Prof BRN Technical Education & Training Trust in the year 1986 under the Presidentship of Sri M R ARYA; Former Vysya Bank Chairman and a renowned Engineer. The objective of this trust is to promote Technical Education through Seminars, Workshops and Technical Lecture programmes. Mr B Krishnappa, an alumnus of UVCE the present Principal of MEI Polytechnic is the coordinator of Prof BRN TE & TT and is taking lot of interest in the activities of the trust.
We the old boys[ Alumni] of University of Mysore COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING, BANGALORE, when we think about our ALMA MATER, our Principal BRN comes to our mind first. Prof B R Narayana Iyengar, BSC,BE, SM(Masachusetts Institute of Technology) Member S.E.S.A; AMIE(India), well educated, always well dressed, charming personality, an able administrator and efficient TEACHER served College of Engineering, Bangalore for more than three decades. He was our college Principal for nearly FIVE years in two spells from 1957 to 1960 & 1963 to 1965. Many have treasured his recommendation letter given to the prospective employers and helping/ advising the students in placement and further Education. He was the last Principal of College of Engineering , Bangalore under MYSORE UNIVERSITY. Prof B R N is also the First Principal of College of Engineering [which much later got the tag prefix of VISVESVARAYA to its name] under the affiliation to Bangalore University. The first convocation of the same was held at Glass House and Honorable President of India DR S RADHAKRISHNA graced the occasion and delivered convocation address.
We have some of our batch mates reminiscence the times of BRN at UVCE as follows:
BRN – Gentleman extraordinaire, humility personified, generous to the core to all. Our Principal Prof. B R. Narayana Iyengar- more affectionately known as BRN was an extraordinary human being. I had an occasion to interact with him in person at a later time in my professional life which I can recollect with pleasure even 46 years after the incident. My first exposure to BRN was when I appeared for my admission interview into UCE. BRN along with Prof. D B Narasimhiah (Civil Engg) and Prof. Venkatachala Iyengar (Mathematics) constituted the interviewing panel. While Prof. Venkatachala Iyengar was testing my academic accomplishments, BRN was looking into testimonials relating to sports and involvement into other extracurricular activities. In the midst of the interview being conducted by Prof.H V. Iyengar, BRN remarked “Oh, he is a very good table tennis player”. This remark gave me my first insight into the person BRN was. He was looking into achievements in his students, something more than mere excellence in academics.
I was not fortunate in any further personal exposure during college days as he did not handle any of our classes. Interactions were restricted to occasional of split second encounters in College corridors or College sports news. A later meeting revealed the enormity of the gentleness in him.
Circa – 1967/68: Post my graduation in Mechanical Engineering, I had joined an Indo-Swedish company called Vulcan Laval, with manufacturing operations located in PUNE. it was the Indian arm of the world wide well known Alfa Laval from Sweden who were into supplying and executing turnkey projects in the field of food engineering such as Dairy Plants, Breweries, Refrigeration Plants, Fruits Processing, Cold Stores etc. As a Project Engineer of M/s Vulcan Laval, I was executing a dairy project for Karnataka State Dairy Development Department at HUBLI in 1967/1968. The Project involved usage of boilers and since boilers are high pressure vessels, they had to be inspected and certified by the Inspectorate of Boilers, Karnataka State Government.
During one of my visits to the project site, Mr. Balakrishna, the Chief Inspector of Boilers, Karnataka State, visited us for inspection. During the course of conversation, having realized that I was an ex-student of University College of Engineering, he informed me that a team has come down from Bangalore to examine/select candidates for boiler operations in “A” Class category. BRN had graciously accepted to help them and that he had accompanied the team. Balakrishna was generous enough to invite me to meet them in the evening as they were staying at the Railway Guest House, Hubli.
It was sheer delight meeting BRN. He was pleased that his student was involved in projects that served the social responsibility of the Government. Making available quality milk at affordable prices was the responsibility of the State Government, providing funds for dairy development in the State budget. This was much before Operation Flood/White Revolution projects swept the country under the able guidance of Dr. V Kurien. I was further reminded of BRN’s gracious gestures when he invited me to join them for dinner. My respect for BRN increased many folds when he invited me to join him the next day to be part of his team. This gesture called for an extraordinary open mind and egalitarian outlook. After all I was a very junior professional then and he was a colossus.
I joined him the next morning as part of the team for interviews conducted at Karnataka Textile Mills; I spent 3 to 4 hours quality time. I was amazed at the pains he took to put the candidates at ease. He would ask questions in English. If it appeared that the candidate was uncomfortable, he would ask in Kannada. If the candidate was still clueless, he would ask in broken Hindi and all along the effort was only to put the candidate at ease. My perception of the person he was grew tremendously. In my scholastic career, I have high respect for my teachers at school level and college level, as they shaped my personality, while I respected many of these GURU’s, BRN was the gentleman I revered most for being the outstanding person he was… and deserves the title MAHA GURU”
– B V Venkatadri [63 Mech]
I remember meeting him at the interview for admission (“Are you sure you can reach above the drawing table to work on it –was the question to me by our Dear B R N- I was obviously short – had not even reached my normal adult height yet!). Somewhere among my pile of papers, I have treasured the glowing recommendation letter he had given me after my graduation.
Prof. B R Narayana Iyengar heads the list of all the ‘Gurus’ who shaped the future of a small town boy like me. Some moments remain etched in the memory of this boy. In 1958, the selection of students began for the Pre-Professional Course after P.U.C. in Bengaluru. I was listed at 23rd position in the merit list having passed P U C from St. Joseph’s College, Bengaluru. When my turn came, to face the interview board, headed by Prof. BRN, somebody objected to this, because the list was for the Mysore State students and I belonged to South Kanara Madras State. I was stunned.
The reason was, I had studied hard in P U C English medium, after transferring from Kannada medium of instruction at UDUPI. I had always carried a small dictionary of scientific words in Kannada and their equivalents in English to reach the level of merit required to get admission to an Engineering course. I saw my dream of becoming an Engineer going down the drain. But I had not reckoned the magnanimity and graciousness of Professor B R N. He immediately raised his voice and said that this list was prepared according to the students who studied P U C at the Mysore University and declined to go deep into the locations of the students. Thus he shaped my future and I am forever thankful to him for doing so. His classes in final year were always jam-packed. He was a great man with great vision. In one of his lectures as the Chairman of the Institution of Engineers in Ahmedabad he listed India’s Strength and weaknesses as follows:-
· Relatively low labour costs, in a few industries
· High caliber technical and managerial manpower
· Capacity of the work force to learn fast and adapt
· Expertise in software [not only computers] · Widespread use & familiarity with the English language
· Great resilience
· Weak on self discipline & Weak on implementation
· Relatively poor drive for excellence
· Readiness to compromise on quality
· Highly individualistic at the cost of team spirit
· Trends indicate dilution of national identity.
Now, I stand tall and very proud of my Alma mater U C E, with 50 years experience in machine designing and building. Due to my guru’s teaching & inspiration, I have been able to reap a rich harvest of achievements. I remember him always & pay my sincere tributes to him.
– H Vittaldas Prabhu[63 Mech]
This article is borrowed from Golden Jubilee Souvenir of 63-64 Batch. We had published the recommendation letter which Dasarathy sir mentions in earlier edition of Sampada and Avalokana.