Writing and Public Engagement

My books have been acclaimed for their interdisciplinary contributions. My nonfiction Applied Minds: How Engineers Think (W.W. Norton, 2015) has been translated into many languages. My co-edited books include: Nautilus Silver Award winning Practicing Sustainability (Springer, 2012); Pathological Altruism (Oxford University Press, 2011), and Career Development in Bioengineering and Biotechnology (Springer, 2008).

I am currently working on two manuscripts. 



Selected Praise for Applied Minds: How Engineers Think (W.W. Norton, 2015; Penguin Random House India, 2015, and others)

 “In this smart, insightful, and fascinating book, Madhavan shows how engineers turn problems into opportunities. The engineering mindset is something we should all study and embrace. It applies to every aspect of life.”—WALTER ISAACSON, author of The Innovators and Steve Jobs

 “Guru Madhavan not only dispels any hint of darkness concerning how engineers think, his delightful book explains how the designed world of machines and systems interacts with the social world in which we use the tools that engineers give us.”—ALVIN ROTH, Winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics; author of Who Gets What—and Why

 “The engineering mindset is a transformational mindset. In deftly revealing some of its organizing principles, this book reminds us that behind today’s global challenges are solutions and opportunities waiting to be realized.”—KLAUS SCHWAB, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum

 “This thoroughly engaging book demonstrates that engineering thinking is truly multidisciplinary, multinational, and multicultural. Through its diverse cast of engineers and wide-ranging examples of their achievements, Applied Minds leaves little doubt that our world is a better place because of the engineers who inhabit it.”—HENRY PETROSKI, Aleksandar S. Vesic Professor of Civil Engineering and Professor of History, Duke University; author of To Engineer Is Human and The Essential Engineer

“Guru Madhavan offers a compelling explanation of the engineering perspective. With potent stories that are heartwarming and at times heartrending, Applied Minds is an enjoyable and instructive read.”—VINTON CERF, Chief Internet Evangelist, Google; Presidential Medal of Freedom laureate and winner of the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering

“Applied Minds will enlighten you about the minds that transform our lives. It beautifully conveys the true vision of engineering and its impact on nearly every aspect of life and global progress. This book is refreshing, most approachable, and highly recommended for anyone interested in understanding engineering.”—C.D.MOTE, Jr., President, National Academy of Engineering

“This is a delightfully interesting book and an essential treatise about ingenuity and systems thinking. Be it a mundane problem or a grand social challenge, the engineering frame of mind offers vital insights and inspiration toward better solutions.”—RITA COLWELL, U.S. Science Envoy; Former Director of the National Science Foundation; National Medal of Science laureate

“Anyone trying to interest America’s young people in technical careers should read Applied Minds…. Writing with a liveliness that reflects the energized, creative, problem-solving people he talks about, Madhavan, a biomedical engineer, presents a completely engaging survey of what engineers do—and why you wish you could do it, too.”—NANCY SZOKAN, Washington Post

“Engaging…[and] insightful.”—SYBIL DERRIBLE, Science

“Engineers are titans of real-world problem-solving, yet are strangely invisible, notes biomedical engineer Guru Madhavan. In this riveting study of how they think, he puts behind-the-scenes geniuses …centre stage.”—BARBARA KISER, Nature

“The heroes of Guru Madhavan’s compact book about the logical habits of engineers are not the usual suspects of the iPhone era. …the author takes us back to an earlier time so that we can witness the solving of problems that have long since gone away.”—JON GERTNER, Wall Street Journal

 “A real pleasure to read, and lots to learn.”—TIM HARFORD, The Financial Times's Undercover Economist and presenter of BBC Radio 4’s More or Less

“[Applied Minds] can proudly take its place alongside other esteemed works on engineering such as Samuel C. Florman’s The Existential Pleasures of Engineering and Henry Petroski’s Pushing the Limits…. A delightful book that will appeal to readers interested in human innovations. Expect to be convinced by the author’s thesis that an engineering mind set can be helpful to anyone.”—Library Journal

“Madhavan’s work will help readers move from the common understanding of engineering as a set of technical skills for building objects to the realization that engineering is a way of looking at and solving problems, and is not limited to situations involving science and math.”—Publishers Weekly

“Madhavan brings a curious combination of traditional spiritual sensibility and logical thought to his writing.… The book champions the cause of [engineering’s] mostly unsung heroes and of its subject itself.”—ZEHRA NAQVI, Financial Chronicle (India)

Edited Books

Selected Praise for Practicing Sustainability (Springer, 2012)

“Delightful…the chapters are gems of precision and insight.”—MICHAEL SPENCE, Winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics

“This book so aptly demonstrates [that] the concept of sustainability can be applied to many different areas, which could be woven together into a sustainability agenda.”—ROBERT RUBIN, Co-Chairman, Council on Foreign Relations, and Former U.S. Secretary of Treasury

“An enlightening book that demystifies what sustainability really means with a fresh, unusual range of voices and practical insights. Practicing Sustainability should be read by anyone who cares about the future of our planet.”—NEAL LANE, Former Director, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the U.S. National Science Foundation

“In this unique collection, each reader will find three or four sparks―things that will connect with their head or heart or both, and perhaps spur them to real action. It's a necessary book!”—BILL MCKIBBEN, author of The End of Nature and Deep Economy

Selected Praise for Pathological Altruism (Oxford University Press, 2011)

“What a wonderful book! This is one of the few books in evolutionary biology I’ve read in the past ten years that taught me something completely new.”—E.O. WILSON, Pulitzer Prize Winner; Pellegrino University Research Professor Emeritus, Harvard University

“a scholarly yet surprisingly sprightly volume...the book is the first comprehensive treatment of the idea that when ostensibly generous “how can I help you?” behavior is taken to extremes, misapplied or stridently rhapsodized, it can become unhelpful, unproductive and even destructive.”—NATALIE ANGIER in the New York Times

Selected Praise for Career Development in Bioengineering and Biotechnology (Springer, 2008)

“This book provides a wealth of information and should serve as an excellent resource. The editors have gone to great effort to discuss a variety of critical topics in the burgeoning areas of bioengineering and biotechnology.”—ROBERT LANGER, Institute Professor,  Massachusetts Institute of Technology; National Medal of Science Laureate

“This is truly an outstanding book that is the first of its kind...certainly a pioneering contribution.”—SHU CHIEN, University Professor, University of California, San Diego, National Medal of Science Laureate

“I am very impressed with the enormous dedication and skill that created this major, highly-original contribution – I know of nothing like it.”—BRUCE ALBERTS, President Emeritus, National Academy of Sciences; National Medal of Science Laureate