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L.A. culture inspires new mechanical engineering professor

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Abhijit Mukherjee, new mechanical engineering professor at CSUN, sits in his office filled with boxes. He is still in the process of unpacking and moving in to his office. Photo Credit: Rachel Costahaude / Daily Sundial

Artistic expression may not be the first thing that comes to mind when hearing about mechanical engineering, but newly-hired professor Abhijit Mukherjee has meshed the two worlds.

“My wife and I are very culture-oriented, that’s what keeps us going,” Mukherjee said.  “I mean, we work but work is for earning money. This is livelihood.”

Mukherjee earned his Ph.D at UCLA, then went to New York and later taught mechanical engineering at Michigan Tech. Tired of harsh winters, he is now back in Los Angeles.

Born and raised in Calcutta, India, Mukherjee said he developed a soft spot for culture-filled, metropolitan cities and is fond of the cultural diversity intrinsic to Los Angeles.

“The culture and interaction with all the different people really helps you to grow and be successful in this changing world,” said Mukherjee.

Father of two children, ages 6 and 2, Mukherjee said he strives to expose them to the arts, hoping they too will embrace the culture around them.

“It’s a great opportunity for my kids to learn Indian classical culture, dance and music, and also the Western culture,” said Mukherjee. “If I want my daughter to learn ballet, of course there would be no better place than LA. If my son grows up and wants to go into the theaters, he can go to CSUN.”

Mukherjee maintains his artistic and cultural passions, but he chose to become an engineer to follow in his father’s footsteps. And the  job security.

“You are always going to find a job for the rest of your life if you are in engineering,” he said.

In a profession so logic-based, Mukherjee said he is able to stay well-rounded through music, which relaxes him and fuels him to be a better engineer.

“I really enjoy when I listen to some good music, watch some good movies or read a good book,” he said.  “That’s what keeps me going.”

By combining his love of art and culture with his skills in engineering, Mukherjee said he has found a happy medium.

“You have to have a balanced personality,” he said. “You can’t just be an artist or just an engineer.”

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