Graduate students enjoy special privileges and face unique challenges that set them apart from undergraduate students. Faculty members are called upon to support the personal and professional development of these students. UNC Charlotte honors faculty who are regarded as excellent mentors by their students and peers with the Harshini V. de Silva Graduate Mentor Award. Harish P. Cherukuri, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Science in the William States Lee College of Engineering, is the 2011 award recipient.
According to his students, Cherukuri supports them in their professional and personal growth, encouraging them to reach beyond their every day experiences and empowering them through a student-centered pedagogy. He fosters a learning environment that is considerate of students’ varying cultural and academic backgrounds, and his commitment to student learning and success extends well beyond the confines of the University.
In the words of one graduate, “Dr. Cherukuri has been and still is an inspiration to me both academically and personally, and has always supported and encouraged me in my endeavors. He is a very caring individual.”
Cherukuri formerly served as Director of Graduate Studies for the Department of Engineering. During his academic and professional career, he has chaired the doctoral and master’s committees of more than 20 graduate students and has, during his seven years as Director of Graduate Studies, interacted directly with practically every graduate student in the department.
A prolific scholar, Cherukuri has authored or co-authored approximately 60 papers including those for peer-reviewed journals and refereed conference publications; a majority have been coauthored with students.
– Chancellor Philip L. Dubois
Cherukuri earned a Bachelor of Technology degree in Mechanical Engineering from J.N. Technological University, Hyderabad, India. He holds a Master of Science from Montana State University and doctoral degree in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Cherukuri came to UNC Charlotte as a postdoctoral research associate in 1995, joining the faculty as a Visiting Assistant Professor in 1997. He is a member of the Phi Beta Delta Honor Society, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and U.S. Association for Computational Mechanics.
The winner of a Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship, Cherukuri recently spent a semester conducting research at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. In recognition of Cherukuri’s dedication, innovations in teaching and mentoring skills, he has received student-nominated teaching awards, including the Tau Beta Phi Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the Maxheim Faculty Fellowship.
“With 19 doctoral programs, more to come in the future, and now 4,995 graduate students, quality mentoring by our faculty is essential as we cultivate in our students a commitment to excellent teaching, outstanding research, and a sense of personal and professional balance,” Chancellor Philip L. Dubois said at the award ceremony. “Harish Cherukuri, our honoree, exemplifies these traits.”
Harshini V. de Silva was an exceptional teacher, a brilliant scholar and researcher and a devoted servant of her profession and community until her untimely death in October 2000. The Harshini V. de Silva Graduate Mentor Award is given annually to the faculty member whose commitment to students, research and scholarly inquiry most closely exemplifies the spirit of de Silva.