Teacher Feature: Huliyar Mallikarjuna

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Teacher Feature: Huliyar Mallikarjuna

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Instead of spelling out his full name, the Parks College Department Chair prefers to hand a business card to inquisitive parties. He also cuts his surname in half; he is known as Dr. Mallik to his students and colleagues. It fits that this no-nonsense associate professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering likes things straight and to the point.

Mallik grew up on a coconut farm, basking under scores of palm trees – his favorite tree to this day. However, he decided to pursue his bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering at Bangalore University in India. The university is located amidst the world’s largest population of software engineers. “[There are] probably near 1 million of them in the area … It’s bigger than Silicon Valley,” Mallik explained. He obtained his degree in 1980, and after a year of teaching at the University, he decided to come to the United States to continue his education.

Mallik has a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D., all in Electrical Engineering. His post-baccalaureate degrees both came from the University of Pittsburgh. Mallik recounts that his mastery of the English language gave him a leg up during graduate school. Growing up, he spoke Kannada, the official language of the Indian state of Karnataka, but he began learning English starting in the 5th grade. When Mallik transitioned to the Engineering field, all of his classes were taught in English, so he was already fluent before setting foot on Pitt’s campus. He excelled at Pittsburgh, becoming a teacher himself during his studies— he actually instructed his peers in his own graduate program as he earned his degrees. This directly led to his position at Saint Louis University through a faculty connection.

Dr. Mallik rarely watches sports, but you can find him playing the occasional game of pick-up badminton in the Simon Rec Center. In his spare time, he enjoys watching documentaries and consuming any non-fiction book he can find. Mallik prefers to fill his hours indulging his endless “curiosity,” his hunger to learn about what he finds are “the serious issues facing mankind.” Biographies especially fascinate him. “I don’t have time for fiction,” he quips in his straightforward manner. Mallik also loves to follow the latest news on technology, particularly when it relates to his research of electrical power systems and sustainability of energy resources. He spends most of his evenings delving into books and films on his laptop, sitting next to his wife who watches her shows on her own laptop.

On days when their lunch hours line up, Dr. Mallik and his wife share their mid-day meal together. She works a few blocks east of McDonnell Douglas Hall at Wells Fargo. They used to frequent the Good Pie, when it still sat on Olive Boulevard just off campus. Lately, they have been trying the cuisine from the various food trucks parked near the Wells Fargo offices. But their favorite activity together is satisfying their craving for travel, fueled by their endless wanderlust and curiosity. Mallik and his wife are planning a trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands for next Christmas.

Between his travels, Dr. Mallik teaches courses during the school year for Electrical and Computer engineering students. He is currently instructing two courses this semester—Power Systems Analysis I and Filter Design—on top of his duties as the chair for the Electrical and Computer Engineering department.

Mallik encourages students to carry curiosity throughout their studies and beyond. He believes it is the first step to gaining knowledge about any subject matter, from linguistics to astrophysics. He himself is a testament to what curiosity can do. Curiosity has certainly taken Mallik halfway around the globe and back again. “I think it was curiosity that drove me to this place from India,” he says with urgency, “If you’re not curious then nothing will happen.”