Rajeshwari Chatterjee

Rajeshwari Chatterjee (24 January 1922 – 3 September 2010)was an Indian scientist and an academic. She was the first woman engineer from Karnataka.During her tenure at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, Chatterjee was a professor and later chairperson of the department of Electro-communication Engineering.

Early life and education

Chatterjee was born in 1922 in Karnataka. She had her primary education in a “special English school” founded by her grandmother. After finishing her schooling she got admitted into Central College of Bangalore where she earned B.Sc (Hons) and M.Sc degrees in Mathematics. In both these exams she ranked first in the Mysore University. She received Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar Award and M.T. Narayana Iyengar Prize and the Walters Memorial Prize respectively for her performances in the B.Sc and M.Sc examinations.

In 1943, after her M.Sc, she joined the Indian Institute of Science(IISc), Bangalore as a Research Student in the then Electrical Technology Department in the area of Communication.

In 1946, she was selected as a “bright student” by the Government of Delhi and was given a scholarship to go abroad to pursue higher studies and she decided to the United States. In 1950s it was very difficult for Indian women to go abroad to pursue higher education. But Chatterjee was determined to do so. In July 1947, one month before India’s independence, she started her journey to the USA and reached there after 30 days. In the USA, she was admitted to the University of Michigan and obtained her Master’s degree from the Department of Electrical Engineering. Then following the guidelines of the contract she had with the Government of India, she underwent and eight months’ practical training in the Division of Radio Frequency Measurements at the National Bureau of Standards in Washington D.C. After the completion of the training she went back to the University of Michigan and resumed her studies. In early 1953 she obtained her Ph.D degree under the guidance of Professor William G. Dow.

Career in India

In 1953, after obtaining the Ph.D degree, she returned to India and joined the Department of Electrical Communication Engineering at IISc as a faculty member. In the same year she married Sisir Kumar Chatterjee, a member of the faculty of IISc. After their marriage, she and her husband started research in the area of Microwave Engineering, the first such research in India. They soon built a microwave research laboratory.

In the same period, Chatterjee became a professor and was selected for the position of Chairman in the Department of Electrical Communication Engineering. Her main teaching are were electromagnetic theory, electron tube circuits and microwave technology. She was very active in research too. In the next few years she mentored 20 Ph.D students, wrote over 100 research papers and seven books related to microwave engineering and antennae.

Personal life

Rajeswari married Sisir Kumar Chatterjee, a faculty of IISc in 1953. The couple had a daughter Indira Chatterjee, who is now a Professor of Electrical and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno, USA.