“At MIT, it’s not just research that defines you. Community involvement is so important,” says Sriram Krishnan, a well-known student leader who is a big believer in getting people together. “My peers have had the biggest influence on my life at MIT.”

Krishnan, who plans to become a professor at a great university, was born in Madras, India and earned a degree in mechanical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology. Then he came to the U.S. and earned a master’s from MIT in mechanical engineering in 2001. He is now in MIT’s Ph.D. program in mechanical engineering.

Krishnan has been involved for six years in the graduate student council, where he has held several offices. With others, he founded MIT’s Graduate Association of Mechanical Engineers. He also served as president of Sidney-Pacific, his graduate residence of 700 students, and served as the graduate representative to the MIT Faculty Policy Committee. This year he earned the Karl T. Compton Prize for achievements in citizenship and devotion to the welfare of MIT. He also was part of a group that began Shuttletrack, a project that tracks all MIT campus shuttle buses in real-time on the Web. By checking the Web site, you can tell where and how far away the shuttle is.

“I’ve learned a lot from my peers,” says Krishnan, adding that what he has most learned from working with them is to trust people in a competitive environment and to freely offer help.

“Even if it means losing sleep for a night,” he says, “making an effort to help someone is always worth it. I’ve learned that your career is important, making money is important, but if you can contribute to the world, you will always feel happy.”