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Gopala(n) Iyengar

In memoriam

 Gupala Iyengar and his wife, Ponnuammal

Gopala Iyengar and his wife, Ponnuammal. Photo: Submitted

Gopala Iyengar always emphasized the importance of education. He grew up in Mannarkoil, a small village in the southern district of Tirunelveli in Tamilnadu, India. After graduating from high school, he pursued his career as an independent construction contractor in Mannarkoil. Gopalan was instrumental in building a primary school in the village, and paid school fees for several young people living there.

During his career, Gopalan was the sole contractor for roads and bridges built by the British and Indian government. He always took pride in his work and some of the bridges he built are now more than 75 years old. He worked among civil engineers and hoped one of his seven sons would pursue this field.


A stone commemorating the opening of a bridge in June 1939. The contractor’s name is given at the bottom. Photo: Submitted

Gopalan died on March 15, 1963, at the age of 59, when his youngest son was 11 years old. The closest he came to seeing one of his children become a civil engineer was when one of his sons gained admission to a diploma program in engineering - but not civil engineering.

Though his sons followed different career paths, none became a civil engineer. However, he would be proud to know that four of his grandchildren studied civil engineering. His eldest grandson and namesake, Gopalan, became the first civil engineer in the family. Two of his granddaughters, Prabha and Monika, obtained master’s degrees in civil engineering. While his other grandson, Balaji, is currently the chair of the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Colorado.

Family members have established the Mannarkoil A. Gopala Iyengar Ponnuammal (MAGP) Memorial Prize to honour Mr. Gopala Iyengar and his wife Ponnuammal, and to recognize his passion for civil engineering.

How you can help

We encourage you to share this page with family and friends who may have known Gopalan, and to help keep his memory alive by making a gift in support of the memorial fund at UNB online or by mail.

How to establish named gifts

Establishing named scholarships, bursaries or other funds is an easy and meaningful way to ensure that you or someone you care about is remembered with a special connection to UNB. Contact us to learn more.