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Google mentor’s family to fund entrepreneurial research at IIT

Wife of Rajeev Motwani,a mentor to Sergey Brin and Larry Page,has pledged $1.5 million to IIT-Kanpur.

Written by Anubhuti Vishnoi | New Delhi |
March 25, 2011 3:25:51 am

He was a mentor to Sergey Brin and Larry Page and helped co-author the Google that has become an indispensable part of millions of lives around the world.

Nearly two years after Rajeev Motwani was found dead in a pool in the backyard of his Atherton home,his family has come back to his alma mater to foster values and ideas he cherished. His wife,Asha Jadeja Motwani,has pledged $1.5 million to IIT-Kanpur on the occasion of her husband’s 49th birth anniversary. The fund will go towards setting up the Motwani Building at the IIT and a centre for entrepreneurial research.

Motwani was a brilliant student who used his imagination to translate research into entrepreneurial ventures. The six-storey building to be set up in his memory will fittingly house the Department of Computer Science and Engineering,including a 200-seat classroom,22 faculty offices and 17 laboratories,besides activities for nurturing entrepreneurship and innovation in the areas influenced by his work. That apart,the fund will mark the beginning of a collaboration between Rajeev Motwani Foundation and IIT-Kanpur to help student and faculty entrepreneurs collaborate on transforming innovative ideas and technologies into successful enterprises.

The director of IIT-Kanpur,S G Dhande,remembered the student who enrolled for his first class at the institution.

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“He was in the first batch of B Tech Computer Science in 1983. I taught him two courses. The unique bit about his personality was that while he researched on the theoretical side of algorithms,he also had the imagination to turn it into entrepreneurial ventures. He was in a way the godfather of Google,a mentor to Sergey and,in fact,to scores of companies set up in the Silicon valley…IIT-Kanpur is very proud of Rajeev Motwani and his accomplishments and we accept the donation by his family to further our commitment to excellence in computer education,” said Dhande.

Incidentally,Motwani was planning a trip to IIT-Kanpur days before his fatal accident on June 5,2009.

Asha said that she was only following her husband’s dreams. “Whenever he visited India and the IITs,he felt that the entrepreneurial spirit so characteristic of the US was missing here and this was one of the things he always wanted to work on,starting with IIT-Kanpur,” she said over the telephone.

Google’s Sergey Brin described Rajeev as his “friend and teacher” and said,“Today,whenever you use a piece of technology,there is a good chance a little bit of Rajeev Motwani is behind it … If Rajeev had not been there,chances are,there would be no Google today.”

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