I would like first to share some of these key life events with you, in the hope that these may help you understand my struggles and how chance events and unplanned encounters with influential persons shaped my life and career. Later, I will share the deeper life lessons that I have learned. My sincere hope is that this sharing will help you see your own trials and tribulations for the hidden blessings they can be.
The first event occurred when I was a graduate student in Control Theory at IIT, Kanpur in India. At breakfast on a bright Sunday morning in 1968, I had a chance encounter with a famous computer scientist on sabbatical from a well-known US university. He was discussing exciting new developments in the field of computer science with a large group of students and how such developments would alter our future. He was articulate, passionate and quite convincing. I was hooked. I went straight from breakfast to the library, read four or five papers he had suggested, and left the library determined to study computer science. Friends, when I look back today at that pivotal meeting, I marvel at how one role model can alter, for the better, the future of a young student. This experience taught me that valuable advice can sometimes come from an unexpected source, and chance events can sometimes open new doors.