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Joshi, Sadanand

Published onJul 30, 2021
Joshi, Sadanand

(March 15, 1950- )

Quick Facts

Sadanand Joshi, Anson Marston Distinguished Professor in Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering, is a leading entrepreneur and researcher in gas and oil well technologies.


Sadanand was born in Panvel near Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay) in India on March 15, 1950, to Dattatray M. Joshi, a hospital administrator, and Sumati D. Joshi, a homemaker.

When he was younger, Joshi visited his grandparents over the summers, and he would watch from a distance as the trains and cars roared across a local railway that passed near his grandparents’ house. Those experiences helped him decide early on that he wanted to become an engineer.

Joshi attended high school at the New English School in Thane, India, which is a suburb near Mumbai. After graduation, he enrolled at Walchand College of Engineering in 1968 to study mechanical engineering.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in engineering from Walchand College of Engineering in 1972. After which, he enrolled at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay in Mumbai, India. At the time, there were five IIT’s in India, and these schools were highly reputable for having strong engineering backgrounds. He chose Mumbai because it had a strong mechanical engineering program.

While studying at IIT Bombay, Joshi learned for the first time how to conduct scientific research. He worked on research projects alongside mechanical engineering Professor Suhas Pandurang Sukhatme.

One project involved the study of heat transfer by heating water in vertical steel tubes. Joshi gathered information from past references at the college library and used it to build his own equipment for the project. He tested his equipment and wrote a thesis he successfully defended for his master’s of technology in mechanical engineering.

Shortly after graduating, Joshi received an opportunity to study at Iowa State University thanks in part to his work with Sukhatme. Sukhatme had previously studied with Arthur Bergles, retired professor and chair of mechanical engineering of ISU (1972-1983), at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, Mass. After graduating, Sukhatme became a professor in India while Bergles went on to eventually become a professor at ISU.

Bergles, who was also the professor-in-charge of the Heat Transfer Laboratory at ISU, had received a grant from the National Science Foundation to research horizontal tubes, and he was on the lookout for prospective graduate students for the project.

Due to Joshi’s previous experience working on vertical tubes, Sukhatme recommended Joshi, and he enrolled at ISU in 1974 to study for his PhD in mechanical engineering, which he earned in December 1978. It was at Iowa State that Joshi met his wife, Claudette, who was also a student. They later had three children: Monica, Jay and Anita.

After graduation, he received multiple job offers from throughout the United States, but he ultimately took an offer from Phillips Petroleum Company, now ConocoPhillips Company. He chose Phillips because the company offered him a challenging research and development position. Joshi led research projects to develop a novel gas and oil well technology called horizontal well drilling.

As opposed to vertical drilling, horizontal well drilling is a technique that impacts every aspect of the economic production of oil and gas from increasingly complex reservoirs, while also reducing the surface “footprint” associated with drilling operations.

He also developed the “Joshi equation” using notes that he took from a fluid mechanics class at ISU. This equation is applied worldwide to predict production rates from horizontal wells. Due to his dedication to the technology, almost 40 percent of wells drilled in the U.S. are now horizontal.

He continues to advance the horizontal well drilling technology at Joshi Technologies International, Inc. (JTI), the company he founded in 1988, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. JTI currently has 50 employees, with annual revenues of more than $60M. It was recognized with an Oklahoma Governor’s Award for Excellence in Exporting in 2009. JTI also received the Tulsa Fast 40 Award in 2011 as one of the fastest growing privately owned companies.

Joshi authored a best-selling book, Horizontal Well Technology, which was published in 1991. He also co-authored Geological Aspects of Horizontal Drilling with R. D. Fritz and M. K. Horn that was published in the same year. He has had nearly 50 technical papers published with the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Petroleum Society of Canadian Institute of Mining, and other industry organizations.

Joshi has delivered more than 200 lectures in 30 countries and served as a distinguished lecturer for SPE from 1995-1996. In 2000, Hart Publications named him “One of the 100 Most Influential People of the Petroleum Century.”

Selected Sources

Engineering Online, ISU.

IIT Bombay, Alumni.

Joshi Oil and Gas, company website.

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