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For a school that today produces engineers in droves, it is wonderful news that a Loyola old boy is one of the pioneers in nanotechnology. Recently listed by the Scientific American magazine as one of 50 "technology leaders", Pulickel M. Ajayan of the 1977 batch is the role model from engineering that Loyolites were searching for.

In a Rediff interview Ajayan had said, "My high school (Loyola School, Trivandrum) made a strong impact on me and made me realize that learning is the most exciting thing one can ever befriend."

When Deepak (1996 ISC) drew my attention to this interview, I contacted Ajayan and requested him to elaborate.

"Loyola was a very professional place with a deep interest in seeing its students succeed. In addition there were lots of opportunities to develop personality, think about things other than just studies and think broadly," he replied. "Father C.P. Varkey was certainly a strong influence in developing this thought process."

Ajayan did his early studies in a government school in Kodungallur, and moved to Loyola in standard seven. His stay in the Loyola hostel "helped a lot" as he found himself among students who shared a similar, broad outlook. He is disappointed that the school discontinued the hostel.

"Teachers like M.M. George had a strong influence in my taking up science for my career. The whole teacher community at Loyola when I was there was just excellent. I don't think I have ever had such a dedicated and loving teacher community after my Loyola experience," Ajayan wrote to me.

"If I think about influences in my life that had an impact of changing my life, I would say Loyola comes first." This, from an influential person himself. A few years ago, when ScienceWatch analysed articles on nanotechnology written between 1992 and 2002, Ajayan was the seventh most-cited author in the world.

More on Ajayan and his work, in the Wikipedia

Update: I expanded this blogpost and published an article on Ajayan in The Hindu BusinessLine.