Dr. Ashwin Mahalingam on

Bringing Interdisciplinary Thinking to Project Management

Interdisciplinary Thinking, Management

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Dr. Ashwin Mahalingam

Dr. Ashwin Mahalingam is a Researcher and Advisor.

He is a Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at IIT Madras. Ashwin is also a co-founder of Okapi Advisory Services and serves as a Director on the Board.

He is the Editor of the Engineering Project Organization Journal (EPOJ) and has served on many National Committees.

His research interests are in the areas of  Infrastructure and Construction Management, Cross Cultural Issues in Large Engineering Projects, and Public Private Partnerships (PPP).

Ashwin earned his Bachelor’s Degree from IIT Madras and holds a Master’s Degree and PhD from Stanford University, all in the field of Civil Engineering.


This Episode is also available on:  Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Anchor.FM

Selected Links

Connect with Ashwin

IIT Madras Faculty Page

Okapi Research and Advisory

IIT Madras – Department of Civil Engineering

Stanford University – Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

UWaterloo – Promoting Effective Classroom Participation

What is Peer Learning and Why is it Important?

Differentiating Normal, Complex and Megaprojects



Chennai Metro Rail Project

Chennai Metro Rail (Twitter)

Chennai Metro (Website)

Chennai Metro – Project Status

Drawing Competition at Metro Stations

6 Common Causes of Cost Overruns in Construction Projects

Sydney Opera House Named to Over-Budget Hall of Shame

East-West Gas Pipeline Project (China)

Overview of the West-East Gas Pipeline Project

Social Impact Assessment Survey of the China West-East Gas Pipeline Project  (by the UNDP)

COVID-19 and its Impact on Infrastructure Projects

The Impact of COVID-19 on Infrastructure Projects and Assets (Deloitte)

COVID-19 and Infrastructure: A Very Tricky Opportunity (World Bank)

COVID-19 and a New Resilient Infrastructure Landscape (OECD)

The Golden Triangle of Project Management

Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (Government of India)

Understanding the Optimism Bias

Cost Benefit Analysis for Projects: A Step-by-Step Guide

Influence: Overt versus Covert

Michel Foucault and Governmentality

Michel Foucault

Governmentality: Notes on the Thought of Michel Foucault

Three Minute Thought: What Is Governmentality?

Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (eBook)

Sample Megaproject Organization Chart (Image)

Design Thinking and the Stanford d.School

What is Design Thinking?


d.School Starter Kit

IDEO and the Shopping Cart

Full Length Video (22 minutes)

Short Length Video (8 minutes)

Nagpur Metro Rail Project

Nagpur Metro (Wiki)

Nagpur Metro Rail Project (Website)

Dr. Brijesh Dixit

NEWater (from Singapore)

Explaining the Circular Economy and How Society Can Re-think Progress | Animated Video Essay (Ellen MacArthur Foundation)

Entrepreneurship in times of COVID (Talk by Ashwin Mahlingam)

E-Cell IIT Madras





Inside IIT Madras’ Deep-Tech Startup Incubator

A Talk on Chess and Music by Prof. Ashwin Mahalingam and Anil Srinivasan

IIT Madras’ 3D Printed House

Finance Minister Inaugurates India’s First 3D Printed House At IIT Madras

Peek inside India’s first ever 3D printed house, as IIT Madras creates history (Video)

Recommended Books

The Jeeves Collection Audiobook (Narrated by Stephen Fry) by P.G. Wodehouse

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

Professional Engineer License

National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE)’s Professional Engineer License

The Institute of Engineers [India]’s Professional Engineer’s Certification

Selected Publications

Megaproject Leadership in the Developing World: An Indian Perspective (A. Mahalingam)

Managing Project Community in Infrastructure Megaprojects (J. Ninan, A. Mahalingam, S. Clegg)

Making Contingent Decisions in Megaprojects – Governance Lessons from an Imitation and Adaptation Perspective (M. Balasubramani, A. Mahalingam)

Branding and Governmentality for Infrastructure Megaprojects: The Role of Social Media (Research Summary)

Engineering Project Organization Journal (EPOJ)

Show Notes

On Ashwin’s Childhood and Early Days [02:25]

Approach to Teaching, current Teaching Assignments, and Research Interests [07:11]

What is a Megaproject? [09:21]

How Megaprojects impact India? [12:22]

Project Management complexities in Megaprojects [16:16]

How Megaproject Management differs from a typical Software Project [18:43]

A First Lesson in Megaproject Planning [19:10]

On Defining Value in a Megaproject [22:46]

On the use of Social Media in influencing Megaprojects [27:15]

On Using Design Thinking in a Slum Development Project [34:38]

Design Thinking for Software Development [39:56]

Leadership in Megaprojects [41:55]

Integrated Sustainability Thinking in Megaprojects [46:25]

On the Entrepreneurship Cell (E-Cell) at IIT Madras [50:36]

On STEM-based Learning and Education[54:15]

On Technology Trends in Construction Management [57:03]

Recommended Books [59:06]

On Continuous Learning for Engineers [1:01:40]

What would be the three pieces of advice Ashwin would give himself if he was 10 years old, today [1:03:53]

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Dr. Ashwin Mahalingam

Bringing Interdisciplinary Thinking to Project Management

Pooja Jauhari is the former Group CEO of VMLY&R India, and former CEO of The Glitch. Over her two-decade-long career, Pooja has worked with some of the biggest brands in the country and the world, and introduced powerful campaigns to society.

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