Sanjay E. Sarma (born May 1968) is a professor of mechanical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is credited with developing many standards and technologies in the commercial RFID industry. At MIT he is director of digital learning.
Sarma is married to Dr. Gitanjali Swamy, daughter of Dr. Subramanian Swamy, an Indian politician and professor of economics at Harvard College. They have one daughter.
Sarma began his career at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1996, after working for Schlumberger, Inc. and Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories.
Sarma and Dr. David Brock began work on RFID in 1996. In 1999, he co-founded the Auto-ID center at MIT together with Prof. Sunny Siu and Dr. David Brock of MIT, and Kevin Ashton of P&G,in order to make the vision of standards based RFID, a commercial reality. The center opened in 1999 as an industry sponsored, MIT research project with the express goal of creating a global open standard system to put RFID everywhere. When Siu departed, Sarma served as the research director and then the chairman of research. Under Sarma's leadership, the number of sponsors grew to 103, and additional labs were funded at other major universities around the world. Once the EPC System was developed, MIT licensed it to non-profit standards body GS1 and the Auto-ID Center project reached a successful conclusion. The labs were renamed Auto-ID Labs and continue their research.
Prof. Sarma is a frequent industry speaker and serves on the Board of Governors of EPCGlobal. He is an associate professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT. He also served as CTO and Director (Board Member) of OATSystems, a leader in the RFID market. OATSystems was acquired in 2008 by Checkpoint Systems.
In 1999, Sanjay co-founded MIT's Auto-ID Center and has served as its Chairman of Research. He is a recipient of the National Science Foundation CAREER Award, the Cecil and Ida Green Career Development Chair at MIT, the Ferry Award, the Den Hartog Award for Excellence in Teaching, the Keenan Award for innovations in undergraduate education, the New England Business and Technology Award. He was named as Business Week's 'e.biz 25 Innovators' list and Information Week's "Innovators and Influencers". He has over 50 publications in computational geometry, virtual reality, manufacturing, CAD, RFID, security and embedded computing.
In his lectures in Design & Manufacturing II, which he teaches during the Fall Semester at MIT, he is noted as saying that, "Variation is the Root of all Evil," and simply that "Safety Stock is a Slippery Slope to Evil." The latter statement refers to the tendency of large scale manufacturers to stockpile extra parts that, in essence, simultaneously forgive the 'sins' of poor quality whilst making quality problems difficult to discover. This ties directly into Prof. Sarma's overarching theme of lean manufacturing. He often cites The Machine That Changed the World, which is perhaps the most in-depth study into the field of manufacturing ever undertaken.
Since September 2011, Prof. Sarma has acted as an Advisor to Fair Observer, and since early 2012 has sat in an advisory role on Energy Points' sustainability council. In November 2012, he was appointed Director of Digital Learning at MIT, with a mandate to assess how initiatives such as MITx and EdX are affecting instruction on campus.