Wireless Pioneer to Deliver Keynote and Receive Honorary Degree at 2012 Commencement Ceremony

Inventor and entrepreneur Sam Pitroda will receive an honorary degree and deliver the keynote address at this year's commencement ceremony.

At this year’s Commencement ceremony, celebrating the 2012 graduating class of the Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly), attendees will have the opportunity to hear from one of the pioneers of India’s wireless industry, inventor and entrepreneur Sam Pitroda. The ceremony will take place on May 18th at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, where roughly one thousand undergraduate and graduate students will be in attendance, along with faculty and staff of NYU-Poly.

“The Polytechnic Institute of NYU is pleased to be welcoming Mr. Sam Pitroda, largely known as the ‘father of telecommunications of India’ as this year’s honorary degree recipient and Commencement keynote speaker because of his lifelong accomplishments and achievements,” said NYU-Poly President Jerry Hultin. “These achievements are not only as a technologist and entrepreneur who holds over 100 patents, but also through his contributions as a leader and advocate whether in education or economic innovation, in partnership with the government of India.”

Pitroda, who was born in the small village of Titlagarh in the southeastern Indian state of Orissa, didn’t attend school until the age of nine, when he was sent to a boarding school in Gujarat. Since then, he’s received a master’s degree in physics from Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda and a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology and has served as Adviser to Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and as Chairman for India’s National Knowledge Commission. 

Currently, he serves as Advisor to the Prime Minister of India on Public Information and Infrastructure and Innovations and is the Chairman of the National Innovation Council. Mr. Pitroda also heads the Expert Committee on the use of ICT in Railways and is the Chairman of the Smart Grid Task Force set up under the aegis of the Ministry of Power within the Government of India. He has recently been appointed the founding Commissioner of the United Nations Broadband Commission for Digital Development.

Long a hotbed for wireless research with centers like CATT and WICAT (run by Ted Rappaport, a wireless pioneer in his own right), the Institute’s joining with Pitroda for this year’s ceremony is serendipitous. 

President Hultin said of the pairing, “Mr. Pitroda is the embodiment of our principles of i²e as evidenced by his educational attainment, his successful ventures and enterprises, and his innovative approach to presenting solutions to seemingly intractable and large-scale issues in the equitable development of India’s citizens in the world’s largest democracy.”