A Well-Rounded Education

PhD student Kalapi Biswas takes learning beyond the classroom

Although it is a long way from Mumbai to West Lafayette, a deep passion for engineering helped India native Kalapi Biswas bridge that distance. With a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Veeramata Jijabai Technological Institute, she enrolled at Purdue to earn her master’s degree in the same field. She then stayed on to pursue a PhD in materials engineering.

A rich affinity for science and analytical problem solving makes engineering a perfect fit for Biswas’ PhD work. “After finishing my MS, I got interested in the area of nanotechnology and its applications, and moved on to materials engineering to work in that field,” she says. Her doctoral work is geared toward developing novel materials that use nanotechnology to efficiently convert thermal energy to electrical energy. Her research seeks to fabricate cost-effective, high-performance thermoelectric nanowire arrays by hybrid nanostructuing. Through her efforts she hopes to demonstrate efficiencies that will make these devices commercially viable.

Industrious by heart, Biswas participated in an entrepreneurship competition at Purdue where she pitched a device based on her research. She has also filed an invention disclosure for her PhD research and one day may launch a business based on those efforts. Biswas received the Bilsland Dissertation Fellowship, which is awarded to outstanding PhD candidates.

For Biswas, the Boilermaker experience extends far beyond research and studies as she shares her vast and diverse talents across campus. “Purdue has been a learning ground for me not just academically, and it has helped me hone my talent in different non-academic areas,” she says.

Biswas developed her leadership skills by serving as vice president for the Materials Science and Engineering Graduate Student Association (MSEGSA) in 2005-06, helping MSEGSA gain recognition as an official university organization. Among its initiatives, the group has planned outreach events to spread awareness about materials engineering to first-year students.

MSEGSA barely scratches the surface of Biswas’ contributions. “I have served on various university boards and committees, and served as an official student blogger at the Materials Research Society fall 2007 meeting,” she states. She is also an official blogger for the College of Engineering, enjoys painting and dancing, and has displayed her theatrical talents by acting in multiple plays both on and off campus.

Whether through extracurricular experiences or her academic pursuits, Purdue has afforded Biswas great freedom to explore her interests and has opened doors to exciting opportunities.

“The research facilities at Purdue have helped me in doing cutting-edge research. The research work that I have done at Purdue has provided me with an opportunity to give invited talks at international conferences,” she says. “I owe my success to my professors and colleagues at Purdue University and unconditional support from my family in India.”

– Matt Schnepf

As this magazine went to press, Biswas was getting ready to participate in the Summer Commencement Ceremonies and has accepted a job with Intel Corporation, ATD Division in Chandler, Arizona where she will become a process TD engineer.