Andy Paluri (India)

Anand “Andy” Paluri was born on August 1, 1963 in Kakinada,

India. While his parents had an arranged marriage, Paluri’s father, Professor P.V.S. Rama Rao, had as strong interest to marry Paluri’s mother, Vijaya Lakshmi. Professor Rao was the oldest of eight children whose father worked as a tobacco merchant in a rural village. Despite of Professor Rao’s rural upbringing, where he worked odd jobs during the day and studied by lamplight at night, he received a PhD from Andhra University in space physics, had a number of students receive their doctorate under his guidance and also published hundreds of research papers on topics related to Radio Beacon Satellite and GPS communications. Professor Rao would later work for the University as a professor, where his academic work took to him several parts of the world. Eventually, he became the Registrar of the University. Vijaya Lakshmi was born in Kakinada and was a homemaker.

Paluri grew up in Waltair, India near the university where his father worked. Since his father worked in the university, Paluri spent a good deal of time there with his father and was treated like family by university colleagues. When Professor Rao traveled to different parts of India, Paluri often joined him on the sometimes-two-day train journey. At home, Paluri was raised speaking the Telugu language. Moreover, Paluri attended St. Anthony’s High School, a Catholic school.

Paluri attended the same college as his father and majored in Civil Engineering. Although enamored by Marine Engineering, his father swayed him towards Civil Engineering. In his first three years at Andhra University, Paluri walked the thirty minutes each way to the university and would often be back home for lunch. Attending classes six days a week (half-day classes on Saturday), while having Sunday off for leisure, Paluri never missed a class and spent time with an intellectual and highly motivated group of friends. He was involved in sports such as cricket and also participated in community service activities as a member of the Leo Club. Towards the end of his college years, Paluri had an opportunity to work in the Telugu film industry. However, his father wanted him to focus on his education instead. Paluri graduated with Bachelors in Engineering (B.E.) in 1980.

Encouraged by his father, Paluri applied to two graduate schools in the United States. In 1985, Paluri was admitted to Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York for graduate school. While he was also admitted to Caltech in Pasadena, California, Paluri decided on Potsdam due to its weather. Arriving from southeastern India, he had never seen snow in his life.

Upon reaching the United States, Paluri experienced an initial culture shock when he realized many parts of the U.S. were nothing like New York City. Potsdam’s chilly weather in the month of August was also unexpected.

At Clarkson, Paluri specialized in transportation. He worked as a research and teaching assistant during the school year and in the summer worked in Syracuse, New York. The money he earned was put toward phone calls to India, which were expensive at the time. Paluri and his friends often traveled to Canada for leisure. There were about 30 Indian students at Clarkson in the early 1980s, and while Paluri did engage with these students, he also engaged with the rest of the student body.

After graduating from Clarkson in 1987, Paluri was hired by the engineering firm Berger Lehman in Rye, New York. Berger Lehman took care of Paluri’s labor certification and green card. At first, Paluri worked on traffic counts in Staten Island, hydraulic analysis, structural design, and roadway alignment work. Later the company offered him a managerial position at their Plainview office in Long Island, which had the New York State Department of Transportation as a client. The office received contracts to work on the Jericho Turnpike and Route 110 corridors to make safety and operational improvements.

Paluri maintained a successful engineering career. In 1992, he was hired by the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey, where his early projects included Port Newark, Port Elizabeth, Port Commerce, and the World Trade Center. Later projects included work on the Hudson River and Martin Luther King Boulevard in Hoboken, New Jersey. After working for Port Authority for three years, Paluri joined the Louis Berger Group, a firm where he worked as a transportation department manager. Currently, he works for WSP Inc., a global infrastructure, environmental, energy and building design firm as a Vice President and area manager responsible for the firm’s operations in New Jersey with approximately 600 staff.

Paluri was married in 1996 in India. Initially, his wife was denied a U.S. work visa, but when Paluri received his American citizenship in 1997 she was able to immigrate to the United States.

Throughout his life, Paluri has been involved in a number of professional and community service organizations. While working for Berger Lehman, he was involved with the Institute of Transportation Engineers and served as a member of the executive committee for seven years. Later in his career, he joined the American Council of Engineering Companies of New Jersey, where he chaired several different committees. Recently, he was appointed as the chair for the legislation and policy committee.

While living in the United States, Paluri never abandoned his Indian roots. He has remained involved with the Telegu Finance Society that seeks to connect Indian Americans with their Indian culture and heritage. He served as the President of the organization for two years and is currently serving as the advisory committee chairman. In addition, he continues to work with the American Progressive Telugu Association (APTA), which provides educational and financial support for poor children in India. Recently, Paluri has worked with IFM, an Indian community service organization in Monroe Township, New Jersey that hosts mentoring, blood drives, cultural programs, domestic violence initiatives, and cricket for the Monroe community. Paluri is currently the vice president of IFM.

Living in Monroe, Paluri has been involved in local politics as a part of his community service. He served on the Township Shade Tree Commission and is currently serving on the Township Planning Board. He is a registered Democrat and is affiliated with the Middlesex Democratic Committee. In 2018, he was elected to the Board of Education in Monroe.  Mr. Paluri lives in Monroe with his wife Vasantha and his two daughters, Reeva and Anika.