Obituary: Prof. SN Vyas

Our former colleague, Prof SN Vyas passed away on 11th December 2016. He was 76 years old.He was in good health and the death was sudden and peaceful.
The department deeply mourn this sudden death. A brief profile of Prof Vyas is given below.
We invite people who have been associated with him, in any manner, to pay tributes and recall fond memories, by communicating through this page, for others to read and cherish.

Profile : Prof. Vyas was born on 17th Nov. 1940. He got his bachelor’s degree from Rajasthan University in 1958. He later got his PhD from IIT Bombay in 1969.
He was appointed as assistant professor in 1973 and later became professor in 1988. He took voluntary retirement on 10th August 2000 after a service of 27 years.
His academic contributions are in the area of reaction engineering, catalysis and gas separation using molecular sieves. Along with late Prof. SR Patwardhan, he has published several papers relating to carbon molecular sieves. They have several publications that are well cited in leading journals, such as Fuel, Carbon, IECR, Journal of Catalysis and Journal of Colloid and interface science.


My interaction with Prof. Vyas has been academic and mainly in the department. I found him to be friendly and helpful. About a decade back, I had met him when I went to Jodhpur to conduct JEE exam. He made it a point to meet me and he remembered his days in the campus and we had a leisurely chat. And my last remembrance of him will be of that meeting in Jodhpur. We have conveyed our condolences to the family by sending a written note from the Department.I pray to god that his soul rests in peace.

Written by Prof. KV Venkatesh, Head, Department of Chemical Engineering, IIT Bombay

In honour of Prof. S.N. Vyas

I met Prof. S.N. Vyas in 2012 when I was in II year of under-graduation as a founder Head of Chemical Engineering Dept., MBM Engg. College, Jodhpur. In the very first meet, he became so friendly with our batch that it didn't seem as he was professor. He used to teach process principles, chemical technology but more than teaching the subject he used to give us broad idea of chemical enginnering field from his vast knowledge, practical examples, challenges in current technology and also tell us about IIT-B life. He was a figure so phenomenal, a great teacher and benevolent human being who was always so much positive and enthusiastic. In the span of 3 years with him, gradually he became a grandfather figure to me as he always says- "I enjoy your (students) company more than the company of my age people". When his visits to dept. became less frequent due to some health issues, we used to go his home and celebrate every occasion with him. In the final year he helped us in preparation of GATE exam too- he made us revise fundamentals of each subject verbally and only those things I remember still. Later on, when I joined IIT-B for in 2015, he assured me to come in my Convocation in IIT-B, but I am unfortunate for this. Lastly, I met him again on Dec,3,2016 when I went to Jodhpur and spent around 2 hours with him as he was very curious to know how Chemical dept. is going here now. He inquired for almost all senior faculties of Dept. whom he knew and was very happy when I informed that now dept. has 45 faculties. He even had phone call conversation with Prof. Ravi Gudi. Though he is not physically here now, he will forever remain in my thoughts, actions and I thank him for everything he gave me as a learning for life. Let us pray to Lord for soul to get place in Divine Abode.

Another architect of the department passes away

The news of Prof Vyas' passing comes as a shock. Having joined the department in its formative years, he was among the people who built up the department and gave it its distinctive character. When I joined the department in 1988, Prof Vyas was one of the senior faculty. I had my office initially in the Silicate lab, but soon moved upstairs to the Inorganic process lab, and to closer proximity with Prof Vyas. He came across initially as someone with a somewhat stern demeanour, but warmed up to you as you got to know him better. He had a knack for making younger faculty forget his seniority. Those were transition times for the department, since young faculty, who had joined in numbers, had somewhat different ideas about the profession, teaching, research, and the way forward for the department. The department, which had been organized along techology lines, was slowly undergoing a transfromation to a more generalist character. I must say Vyas handled well the winds of change that were wafting through the department. While he never missed an opportunity to voice his opinions on where he thought the youngsters were misguided, he did this in a friendly manner and in a way that made the other side appreciate his point of view. Some of his views on research that is 'relevant' to our context, and on cultivating a relationship with industry, remain valid today. The Vyas-Patwardhan team produced some fine work, especially on carbon molecular sieves, that brought significant recognition to the department. A character of Vyas was that he was never hesitant to venture into a new area if he saw a need or an opprtunity- I recall him getting into a study of enzymatic reactions to help a doctoral student. After Vyas moved away to Jodhpur, I could not remain in touch with him, but I would remember him fondly whenever in the company of senior faculty from those days, and always hoped to see him again some day. That was unfortunately not to be. May his soul rest in peace.

Very favourably. My thoughts

Very favourably.
My thoughts on Prof.S.N.Vyas
I joined IITB on 2nd June 1978.That was a time when so many of departmental faculty had obtained promotion to AP after very long time.In view of this the mood in the department was upbeat.Though I was very new all them TSR,SNV,SLN,SRP (all sitting in Inorganic process Lab except TSR who was sitting in Organic process lab) seem to enjoy discussing with me academics.

Since it was June classes near 2 months away there was time to meet and discuss variety of topics mostly : i) how to go forward with research and better journal publications , ii) how to teach and keep the class interested, iii) how to get more industrial contact and consulting assignments. SNV was always vocal stating that despite so many inorganic process industry the contact with them is dismal he said and he consistently found fault with faculty unwilling to go the extra mile and to address live problems. One problem which I recall SNV was very keen on. That was alcohol separation using pottassium carbonate. I found the idea very fascinating and recall spending lot of time with him in the early days to see a process around that type of separation. My contact with him reduced as I moved into Cellulose and started looking at natural processes.

Many years I went and met SNV at his Jodhpur home in May 2016 while I was there in connection with Min Defence work and seminar at Chem Engg Jai Narain University (JNU)Jodhpur

He was fine living with his son daughter-in-law and grand children . He went over with me his work at Jodhpur and Chem Engg Dept he has built at Jodpur’s JNU and as well his IITB days He mentioned that about my work which he said I quote “ honestly I think your work is the very best I have seen”. I felt humbled by the compliment ; that too hearing this from my senior.

Overall SNV maintained cordial relationship wilh all and in him all of us have lost a great friend and a true academic. May his soul rest in peace.

In Memorium Prof. S.N.Vyas

The demise of Prof. S.N.Vyas has come as a shock not only to the Chemical Engineering fraternity but also to many others who had known him during his long tenure at IIT Bombay. He began his association with IITB in 1960 as an MTech student of the Chemical Engineering Department of IITB under the specialization Inorganic Process Industries. After completing his MTech , he went on to do his PhD in the department under the guidance of Prof. Venkataraman of the Chemistry Department. His early research interest was in the area of solid liquid equilibria with MTech project on Study of Ammonium Chloride water systems and PhD project on Phase studies of Aqueous salt systems . He joined the faculty of the department in December 1964 and was initially associated with the Inorganic Process Technology group.
His initial research on phase equilibria of solid liquid systems focused on analyzing their behaviour and investigating processes for recovery or separation of useful chemicals from such systems.. Some of the interesting problems that he had tackled included recovery of chemicals and minerals from brine and recovery of Sodium Carbonate from Sambhar lake. During the later phase of his academic career, he expanded his research to include catalysis , catalytic reactions , development of Carbon Molecular Sieves (CMS) and its applications to various separation problems. For his work on catalysis and CMS he had formed a fruitful partnership with the late Prof. S.R.Patwardhan to develop facilities for the development of CMS and Zeolite based catalysts. Some interesting reactions he had studied included disproportionation of Toluene, alkylation of Benzene to Cumene and catalytic oxidation of Ethylbenzene to Acetophenone He has a good number of publications in his areas of research. His paper on Carbon Molecular Sieves co-authored with his student Manesh Mohan got the best paper award in the Carbon 99 conference. In recognition of his research contributions, he was invited to be a member of IUPAC.
Prof. Vyas had also played an active role in the teaching program of the department. His dominant teaching activity was initially for the courses of his Inorganic Process Technology group . Later on, when this group lost in its distinct identity with the restructuring of the department, he had aligned his teaching and research interests to fit into the changing academic environment . Besides his usual teaching commitments to the undergraduate programme , he had also offered postgraduate courses in Catalysis and Separation Processes.
Prof. Vyas was a calm and composed person and could get along well with all his colleagues and departmental staff. He showed patience and understanding while dealing with the students . He was always willing to undertake any task assigned to him by the Head . He had adapted himself readily to the evolving teaching and research agenda of Chemical Engineering department. He had also undergone a training programme in Chemical Engineering and Physical Chemistry in Germany to consolidate his background .
We had enjoyed the hospitality of his wonderful family on many occasions. While the death of his wife was a major blow to him, he had shown courage and will power to absorb the loss and guide his children with care and compassion during this critical phase in their lives.
As his contemporary, I had close association with Prof. Vyas . We were both in the second batch of MTech students entering the department in 1960 . After completing our MTech , we continued with our PhD. We both joined the faculty of the department in Dec 1964. From then onwards he marched ahead of me . He completed his PhD and got married ahead of me. We, the younger faculty at that time , would meet in his office often for impromptu discussions on many topics. Whatever be the tenor of the discussions , Prof. Vyas was always the person who remained calm to steer and moderate the discussions. When I got married and moved to an apartment, we were lucky to have Prof. Vyas and his family living in an apartment on the floor above. The help and guidance that he and his wife give us from time to time did help us in getting settled down in our new home. One facet of Prof. Vyas which many may not know was his involvement with sports. As a student living in Hostel 1, Prof. Vyas was fond of playing Volleyball on the makeshift court between the two wings of the hostel . He was exceptionally good in the frontline playing the role of a spiker. He did not pursue his interest in the game after he ceased to be a student.
Entering the department in its early phase, Prof. Vyas had played a distinctive role in nurturing the academic activities of the Chemical Engineering department over four decades . With his sterling personal qualities , he had endeared himself to everyone who had come in contact with him either personally or professionally. Fond memories of him will linger in our minds forever. May his soul rest in peace.

Prof. K.P.Madhavan 15-12-2016

Sorry to hear about the passing of Dr. Vyas

I was browsing through the pages of IITB-Chemical Engineering when I saw the news about the passing of Dr. Vyas. I do remember him for his teaching "Phase Rule and Applications" using the books by Findlay/Campbell as well as Ricci. I met him once but my impressions have been memorable: his expositions on the subject of phase rule have been remarkable and could not find them in most curricula- they were solidly grounded. I have used his teachings often in my own academic career.I also found him to be personable in a one-on-one encounter. May his soul rest in peace. Ashok