After education at Mysore and Saugor Universities in India, Arunachalam received his PhD degree in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Wales, UK in 1965. He worked as a scientist at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre for more than a decade and National Aeronautical Laboratory at Bangalore, before joining the Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory, Hyderabad, as its Director in 1975. From 1982, for over a decade, he served five Prime Ministers and ten Defence ministers of India, including Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Mr. Narasimha Rao, as their Defence Scientific Advisor and Secretary, Department of Defence Research and Development. It was during this tenure, major programme on guided missiles like Agni and Prithvi, combat aircraft programme such as Tejas and advanced radars were initiated. Presently, he continues to be an Honorary Professor of Manufacturing at the University of Warwick in Great Britain.
Academic and Research Achievements: Dr Arunachalam's contributions to science and engineering of materials, and his achievements in building Institutions and industries for harnessing technology remains unique and impressive. His researches in pressure sintering, analytical modelling of mechanical behaviour of two-phase materials and physical metallurgy of titanium alloys were all pioneering and continue to be relevant. Working with his colleagues at Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory he developed aircraft brakes for jet fighters and armour for battle tanks and military vehicles. Both these are under large-scale production. He is a Distinguished Service Professor at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh where he initiated and led a number of research projects supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, Sloan Foundation and the United Nations Foundation. He has over 100 publications to his credit and co-edited major volumes on Alloy Design, Progress in Materials Science, Advances in Powder Metallurgy and on Titanium.
Other Contributions: Dr Arunachalam advised the Indian Government on the definition, assessment and review of a number of major technological and societal programme such as optical fibre communications for India, development of indigenous iron and steel technologies, etc. He was a member of University Grants Commission, Scientific Advisory Committee to the Cabinet and Core Group of the Secretaries of the Government of India. He was also the Chairman of Bharat Dynamics Ltd, Mishra Dhatu Nigam Ltd. and the Aeronautical Research and Development Board (ARDB). He is on the Editorial Board of many journals including MRS Bulletin and on the International Board of Advisors of universities and Foundations. He is the Founder and Chairman of the Centre for Study of Science, Technology and Policy (CSTEP), a technology and policy-study oriented R&D centre in the country.
Awards and Honours: Dr Arunachalam was awarded Padma Bhushan (1985) and Padma Vibhusan (1990), the highest civilian honour given by the President of India. Among his numerous awards and honours are : the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize, Vasvik Award for Materials Science and Engineering, Om Prakash Bhasin Award, FICCI Gold Medal, Platinum Medal of the Indian Institute of Metals, Tata Gold Medal and the first Kothari Gold Medal from the Indian Science Congress. Recently he has received the Life Time Achievement Award from Indian Institute of Metals and Brahm Prakash Memorial Medal (2007) of INSA. Arunachalam is a past President and a Fellow of Indian National Academy of Engineering and Indian Institute of Metals and Aeronautical Society of India. He is a Fellow of National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad and Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore. He is also the first Indian to be elected as a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, UK.