Anant Honkan: GPC’s Father of Engineering

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Teaching engineering is a passion for Dr. Anant Honkan.

Teaching engineering is a passion for Dr. Anant Honkan. (Photo by Bill Roa)


by Kysa Anderson Daniels

Dr. Anant Honkan figures he has dodged death on at least a couple of occasions. One occurred while he was growing up as the youngest of five children raised by his mom (his dad died when Honkan was 3) in southwest India.


Curiosity led Honkan to wrap copper coil around a stick, place it in a bucket of water then dip his finger into it.
The jolting and potentially catastrophic experience humors Honkan today.


“As a kid, I was playing with so many things,” he says with a mischievous smile.
These days, Honkan is an award-winning professor who sparks the engineering interests of Georgia Perimeter College students.


“I get really excited about being in the classroom,” he says.


Honkan is widely regarded as GPC’s Father of Engineering. His passion for science and engineering emerged in middle school when he visited older boys in town who were in college. He’d hover for hours as they completed homework assignments and sketched engineering blueprints.


“It amazed me how they were sharpening the pencils and drawing the lines and letters by hand,” he recalls.


When Honkan grew older, his mom thought he should get a job. Honkan wanted to go to college. His mother relented, cutting costs by asking neighbors to lend her son their old class materials.


“I went to college on a prayer and borrowed books,” Honkan says.


After a few professional stops and advanced degrees, Honkan arrived at Georgia Perimeter in 1995. Today, GPC is recognized for its top-notch engineering program, with Honkan developing and producing engineering courses deemed fundamental to students and their studies beyond GPC. He also played the lead role in establishing Georgia Perimeter’s Regional Engineering Transfer Program with Georgia Tech.


“Dr. Honkan has recruited, guided, pushed and pulled, gently nurtured and tirelessly believed in two-year college students,” says Ray Collings, a GPC math professor who served on the national search committee that led to Honkan’s hire.


Honkan also has developed, created, founded or served as advisor for numerous student organizations, including MESA—the Math, Engineering and Science Achievement program.


Katherine Wilson, a GPC engineering graduate now enrolled in the University of Minnesota Twin Cities Electrical Engineering program, received a scholarship and emailed Honkan to express her gratitude.


“Thank you for preparing me so well to be an engineering student,” Wilson wrote.


Other alumni stay in touch, too. Kavya Manyapu, for example, is an accomplished NASA engineer, and Shantorio Birch was accepted into the coveted doctoral engineering program at the University of Michigan.


This year, Honkan is GPC’s Cole Fellow, a prestigious recognition given annually to one faculty member who demonstrates extraordinary dedication to undergraduate teaching. Honkan will use the award’s $1,000 monetary gift to fund the GPC book scholarship established to honor his deceased mother, Girija Honkan.


Outside the classroom, Honkan enjoys gardening, listening to Indian music and cooking with his spouse, Pushpa.


“My wife and I are very competitive in trying out new combinations (of) Indian dishes,” Honkan says. Another pastime for the couple is traveling, which includes family cruises and periodic trips to India to visit friends and relatives.


Though he’s been at GPC for 20 years and says he is “as old as India’s independence,” Honkan isn’t quite ready to retire. When asked, he chuckles, and then says, “I’m still interested in creating one more new course here.”

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