Professor Swaminathan has been teaching Mechanical Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi for more than 30 years. Professor Swaminathan believes that at the core of engineering are mathematics, physics and mechanics. He has attempted teaching engineering from a basic angle using a number of experiments. In Professor Swaminathan's view, the thrust of a science and technology establishment should be towards helping the ‘poorest of the poor’. His research and development activities were primarily in this direction. Professor Swaminathan is also a social activist and participates in socially relevant projects. He has worked at Centre for Rural Development in IIT Madras, Bharath Gyan Vigyan Samithy, Delhi as the National Coordinator for Watershed Development, and Integrated Rural Technology Centre, Palakkad, Kerala.