Lecturer of Industrial and Operations Engineering and Tauber Advisor Prakash Sathe says coming to the University of Michigan for graduate school was the best decision of his life. Now he loves to teach Tauber students, helping them through his real-world industry experience to become "the leaders and the best."
With a Ph.D. in Industrial and Operations Engineering from the University of Michigan and an MBA from the Michigan State University Executive Management Program, Dr. Prakash Sathe also brings extensive and successful leadership experience from the automotive industry to his work as a lecturer at U-M. His automotive work spans 25 years, both at OEMs and at first tier suppliers. His experience includes Director of Reliability for Electrical Steering at TRW, Director of Warranty and Reliability at Chrysler, Volkswagen, ALPS, Donnelly Mirrors, Behr, and Continental Automotive Systems. Sathe has a US patent for reliability testing and forecasting methodology, has consulted successfully and extensively in the warranty cost reduction arena, and has developed world class best practices in warranty management.
Q: What brought you to Ann Arbor originally?
A: First of all, I came here as a graduate student in 1967. I could have gone anywhere in the US or the world, but my own professor back in Mumbai went to the University of Michigan. He also knew I loved cars and the automotive industry, so I took a leap of faith. It was the best decision of my life. I got a great education, and great social experiences. And I met my wife here.
My wife lived across the hall in my dorm. Today, my daughter and son-in-law are U-M grads and we are training our two granddaughters, ages three-and-a–half and eight-weeks old, to say “Go Blue!"
(Editor’s Note: Sathe was vice president of the International Student Association at a time when the community was searching for information about other cultures, mainly due to the onset of the Vietnam War. ISA ran Mock United Nations and held a World’s Fair, as they called it, which attracted 10,000 people to the East Quad on the weekends. Various cultural groups performed dances, displayed art and highlighted ethnic foods. Sathe said the best seller at the fair was always the makeshift cookbook that featured various recipes from around the world. He recalls that there was such a thirst for knowledge about other cultures at U-M, and the ISA at the time was an epicenter for cultural exchange. The group even opened a coffee house on campus called Rive Gauche, which became a social gathering spot and place to exchange ideas.)
Q: How did you become part of the faculty at U-M?
A: After graduation, I went to work for Chrysler. Over the years I have worked many global assignments, but my heart was always with Michigan. Like a moth to the light I wanted to come back to Ann Arbor, so in 2010, I joined the faculty. Then in 2011 I became associated with Tauber and have since supported seven Spotlight! teams, three of which have finished in the top two. That’s a good batting average.
Q: What are some highlights of your career?
A: I did pioneering work in warranty management and other areas of industry. But today the highlight is my ability to share my experiences with students. I look at how I can help them relate to the real-world of industry with everything I teach. I give them real life examples and direct application.
Q: What is your next goal?
A: Developing new purely numerical techniques in the big data mining field. It is significant.
Q: What surprises you about your students?
A: Their unbounded enthusiasm, doggedness, and great motivation to finish the job. I always tell them ‘You are representing the great University of Michigan and its traditions. And I always tell the corporate sponsors that these are the best of the best. They don’t let me down.’
Q: What are you passionate about?
A: Personally, I am passionate about helping abused and disadvantaged children. I am active in local organizations and charities that support this cause, here and also in India. I am an active supporter of UNICEF, and I have volunteered my time teaching math to disadvantaged youth. Professionally, I am passionate about sharing my real life business experiences with Tauber students and assisting them in achieving great results for their teams and their careers.