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MABE Student Parmanand Prasad Earns Master’s Degree at Age 78


Parmanand Prasad (ME, Spring 2013)

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People age 65 or older may enroll in courses for credit at a reduced rate of $7.00 per semester hour. Those 60 or older may audit courses at UT without paying fees.

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Have you ever contemplated how you would spend your time after you retire? Resting? Traveling? Spending time with family? How about going back to school? After enjoying twelve years of retirement, Parmanand Prasad did just that—he decided to attend graduate school. Prasad entered the graduate program at the University of Tennessee (UT) in 2009, and this past spring he received his master’s degree in mechanical engineering, a month after his 78th birthday.

Engineering is nothing new to Prasad as he spent most of his life working as an engineer in some capacity. When he retired, Prasad missed working on projects and conducting research, so he went back to work and took an engineering job at Think Tank, Inc. in Knoxville. In this position, Prasad spent his time designing a probe that would allow individuals to look into the fusion zone inside of a Tokomak. He soon realized engineering research had increased and changed since he retired, which inspired him to return to school. “I wanted to acquire up-to-date information in engineering. There has been advanced research done in every field over the years,” stated Prasad

Born in India, Prasad received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Agra University in 1957. He worked for several years constructing the Foundry Forge Plant, which is the largest foundry and forging complex in India and one of the largest of its kind in the world. In 1970, Prasad, along with his family, moved to the United States and in 1975 he became a U.S. citizen. For a short period of time, Prasad worked for at the Sperry Space Support Division and United Technologies and in 1977, he was hired as an engineer at the Y-12 National Security Complex, where he worked until his retirement in 1997.

While attending graduate school, Prasad worked with MABE faculty member, Dr. David “Butch” Irick. “Parmanand and I were colleagues for many years at one of the DOE facilities in Oak Ridge before his retirement and my joining the MABE faculty. I was more than happy to be his advisor when he started taking classes several years later. He is a true example of a life-long learner,” Irick stated. At Y-12, Prasad worked with Dr. Irick to designing components of the U.S. Navy Seawolf-class attack submarine, which they won an engineering achievement award for. Prasad also received an engineering achievement award from NASA and was granted a patent for designing a Borbole camera, which is a cheaper alternative to core drilling.

Prasad’s four children and seven grandchildren are very proud of his accomplishment. He is a role-model for them; proving that they can accomplish anything they set their mind to do. Two of his sons are graduates of the UT College of Engineering. His son, Ajoy Prasad, received his bachelor’s in electrical engineering in 1985 and son, Mohan Prasad, received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1991.

Prasad wants to encourage everyone to keep learning and is proof that age has no limits. “Behave like a duck in a river, unruffled from above, but peddling like a devil underneath,” Prasad said. He has taken those words to heart and believes it is a concept that will help others accomplish the unimaginable. His advice to others is, “Do your daily work with full concentration and pay attention to details and remember that a work done well makes the next easier to be done.”

Since graduating, Prasad is embracing retirement by reading, gardening, and traveling to national parks. He can still be seen around campus attending audited courses and visiting Hodges Library for independent study.