Born on November 5,1938, Professor Sukhatme received his schooling in St.Columba's High School, New Delhi and obtained his Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from Banaras Hindu University in 1958. Subsequently he obtained the degrees of Master of Science, Mechanical Engineer and Doctor of Science from M.I.T. in U.S.A. He joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay in 1965 as an Assistant Professor. He was promoted to the post of Professor in 1970 and served as the Head of the Department from 1973 to 1975. Professor Sukhatme worked as Deputy Director from December 1983 to December 1985 and as the Director of IIT Bombay from January 1995 to January 2000. He then served as the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board for five years upto January 2005.
Professor Sukhatme is known for his outstanding contributions both in teaching and research, in the areas of Heat Transfer and Energy. He has guided nineteen students for their Ph.D. degree and published nearly 70 papers. He is also the author of two widely known text books in Heat Transfer and Solar Energy.
Prof Sukhatme was instrumental in starting an interdisciplinary postgraduate and research programme in Energy Systems Engineering at IIT Bombay in the early eighties. This programme has now evolved and grown into a separate Department of Energy Science and Engineering. He was also the driving force behind establishing the Shailesh J Mehta School of Management and the Kanwal Rekhi School of Information Technology during his tenure as Director of IIT Bombay.
Prof. Sukhatme is the recipient of many honours and awards. He received the Prince of Wales Gold Medal for standing first class first in Banaras Hindu University. He was awarded the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for Science and Technology in 1983. He was elected as a Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences in 1986, a Fellow of the Indian National Academy of Engineering in 1987, a Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy in 1995 and a Fellow of National Academy of Sciences in 1999. He was awarded the title of Padma Shri by the Government of India in 2001 and was the first recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. He also received the Om Prakash Bhasin Foundation Award for Engineering and was conferred the title of Doctor of Science (honoris causa) by the Banaras Hindu University in 2001.