Kumar Bhattacharyya, Baron Bhattacharyya
Kumar Bhattacharyya is an Indian British engineer who founded the Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), an academic department at the University of Warwick, which provides research, education and knowledge transfer in engineering, manufacturing and technology. He was made a life peer of the group in 2004, and serves as a director in WMG. Born in Dhaka in British-India, he displayed a high level of intelligence from a young age and was brilliant in studies. The son of a professor, he pursued his higher education from one of the premier institutions in India and then moved to Britain. He started working with Lucas Industries, the main supplier of parts to the British car and aerospace industries. He found the business environment in Britain to be very dynamic and developed a great respect for the hard-working and determined population there. He decided to further his education and eventually completed his doctorate degree and became a lecturer. As an educator who understood the importance industrialization played in a nation’s development, he was keen to establish a manufacturing education programme for industry there. Later on while working at the University of Warwick he founded Warwick Manufacturing Group with the support of Vice-Chancellor, Jack Butterworth. He is also a government adviser and sits on the Labour benches in the House of Lords
Childhood & Early Life
He was born as Sushanta Kumar Bhattacharyya on 6 June 1940 in Dhaka (then part of British-India). His father was a professor of Chemistry at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur.
He was a good student who excelled in academics and enrolled at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur—one of India’s premier technological research institutes—to study Mechanical Engineering.
After graduation Kumar Bhattacharyya received an offer to become a graduate apprentice at Lucas Industries in the UK. Thus he moved to Britain in 1961 as a 21 year old.
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He worked as a graduate apprentice at Lucas Industries for the next six years. Lucas Industries was a family business that had been founded in 19th century Birmingham and was the main supplier of parts to the British car and aerospace industries.
Kumar Bhattacharyya proved to be a fast learner and displayed a natural flair for business management. Upon the completion of his apprenticeship he was offered the Lucas Fellowship and entered the University of Birmingham from where he earned an MSc in Engineering Production and Management and a PhD in Engineering Production. He was appointed as a Lecturer even before he completed his PhD at Birmingham.
He moved to the University of Warwick in 1980 where he became Professor of Manufacturing Systems. Bhattacharya had plans for establishing a manufacturing education programme for industry which received the support of the Vice-Chancellor, Jack Butterworth.
Thus he founded the Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) in 1980 with the aim of supporting the reinvigoration of UK manufacturing through research and knowledge transfer.
The group first launched a part-time master's degree for senior industry staff, with modules taught at a purpose-built residential centre. The course was initially criticized by academics though it became popular with the industry and soon many companies were sending their staff to WMG to attend this course.
Kumar Bhattacharyya eventually decided to provide industry related research services too and a centre where academics could collaborate with industrialists for research purposes was opened in January 1990. This centre too was a success, and this led WMG to expand into other areas like construction, mining, and information and technology.
He is a Fellow of The Royal Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering, and a number of other professional bodies including the Institution of Engineering and Technology, Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and Indian National Academy of Engineering.
He also sits on the Labour benches in the House of Lords where he focuses on policy areas such as business and industry, economy and finance, education, international affairs and science and technology.
Kumar Bhattacharyya is the founder of WMG which is now one of the largest academic departments of the University of Warwick. The group provides degrees for postgraduate students not only at the university campus, but also in overseas centres in India, China, Singapore, Cyprus, Russia and Thailand.
Awards & Achievements
In 1997 he was awarded CBE for Services to Industry and Technology. The same year he was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Science (DSc) by the University of Technology, Malaysia, where he also holds a Honorary Professorship.
The Institution of Electrical Engineers honored him with the Mensforth International Gold Medal for outstanding international contribution to manufacturing engineering and management in 1998.
In 2002, he received the Padma Bhushan from the President of India for his services to Science and Technology.
Kumar Bhattacharyya was knighted in 2003 in recognition of his Services to Higher Education and Industry.
He was made a Life Peer as Baron Bhattacharyya of Moseley in the County of the West Midlands in 2004.
In 2014, he was honored with the Coventry Award of Merit for outstanding personal achievement in raising the status of UK engineering and manufacturing and for his service to the promotion of the University of Warwick and the City of Coventry
Personal Life & Legacy
He is married to Bridie and has children.