|2nd Vice-Chancellor of the University of Jaffna|
September 1988 – April 1994
|Preceded by||S. Vithiananthan|
|Succeeded by||K. Kunaratnam|
|Born||10 November 1934|
|Died||11 June 1994 (aged 59)|
Colombo, Sri Lanka
|Alma mater||Udupiddy AMC|
University of Ceylon
University of Cambridge
|Ethnicity||Sri Lankan Tamil|
Early life and family
Thurairajah was born on 10 November 1934 in Kamparmalai in northern Ceylon. He was the son of Velupillai Alagiah and Sellammah from Imaiyanan in Vadamarachchi. He was educated at the Udupiddy American Mission College and Hartley College. After school he joined the University of Ceylon in July 1953, graduating with BSc degree in civil engineering in 1957.
Thurairajah then served as an instructor in civil engineering at the university until March 1958 before working for the Public Works Department as a Junior Assistant Engineer for four months. He then went to the University of Cambridge on a scholarship after Kenneth H. Roscoe chose him to be his research student. Between October 1958 and December 1961 Thurairajah assisted Roscoe in his research into shear properties of soils. This research earned Thurairajah a PhD in June 1962 with thesis titled Some shear properties of kaolin and of sand.
After Cambridge Thurairajah worked in London for a company called Terreasearch Ltd for a while in 1962 before returning to Ceylon. He joined the University of Ceylon as a lecturer. He was visiting assistant professor at the University of Waterloo before becoming Professor of Civil Engineering in 1971 at the University of Ceylon. He was Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at the Peradeniya Campus of the University of Sri Lanka from May 1975 to September 1977, and February 1982 to February 1985. He was visiting professor at the University of British Columbia between October 1977 and December 1978. He was Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at the Open University of Sri Lanka from April 1987 to August 1988.
Thurairajah moved to Colombo for treatment and re-joined the Open University. He died on 11 June 1994 in Colombo due to cardiovascular failure brought about by leukaemia. He was posthumously awarded the Maamanithar (Great Man) honour by the LTTE Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
Thurairajah was a fellow of the National Academy of Sciences (Sri Lanka) from 1977; Institution of Civil Engineers (Sri Lanka) from 1979; and the Institution of Civil Engineers (UK) from May 1985. He was president of the National Academy of Sciences (Sri Lanka) in 1986. He was president of the Institution of Civil Engineers (Sri Lanka) between October 1989 to October 1990. He was an expert on soil engineering.
- Arumugam, S. (1997). Dictionary of Biography of the Tamils of Ceylon. p. 233.
- "Appreciation: Prof. Alagiah Thurairajah" (PDF). Tamil Times. Vol. XIII no. 6. 15 June 1994. p. 33. ISSN 0266-4488.
- "Past Deans". University of Peradeniya.
- "Establishment of the Jaffna Campus of the University of Sri Lanka". University of Jaffna. Archived from the original on 21 July 2012.
- "'Great man' award to Tamilnet editor". BBC Sinhala. 1 May 2005.