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Alumni Meet in Goa

Report of IIT Bombay Alumni Reunion - Goa

Sept 4-5, 2010

Sept 4 th

The program started with Prof. Contractor, Dean Alumni and Corporate Relations, IIT Bombay welcoming the invitees. Mr. Ananthnarayan of the Bengaluru chapter of IIT Bombay alumni, pointed out that this was planned as the first of a series of reunions that would launch the 'Triple E' initiative and hold discussions on IIT Bombay Vision 2020 to take IIT Bombay to the next level. Hosting these events in small towns spread across India would encourage participation from more alumni from those regions and new relationships could be built.

Prof. Devang Khakhar, Director IIT Bombay

  • IIT Bombay's various successes such as the new labs, buildings, scholarships, and recruitment efforts could be closely tied to alumni help and involvement via contributions of funds, time, ideas and image building activities.
  • In IIT Bombay today research was a major focus and projects worth Rs. 162 crore had been undertaken. For the future, there was need to do impactful research that was globally and nationally relevant.
  • Undergraduate students have demonstrated capability to do meaningful work in the past. PRATHAM the satellite project and some SINE initiatives are good examples thus it was advantageous to get undergraduates involved at an early stage in research. One activity in this regard had faculty going to hostels post dinner and giving inspiring talks.
  • He concluded by encouraging alumni to visit the Institute, the parent departments and continue to support the Alma mater in all ways.

Dr. Ajit Ranade, Economist and Distinguished alumnus

  • As moderator he described how McKinsey and co. got involved in the Vision 2020 report.
  • He pointed out that one of the two persons who prepared the report Mr. Ramesh Mangaleswaran was also an IIT BOMBAY alumnus and most likely brought with him a special interest and some home advantage on information.

Mr. Ramesh, Mr. Raj Kamal, McKinsey and Co.

The three critical factors coming together were

  1. Growing student and Faculty strength
  2. Scope for research growth including and IIT Bombay possibly needing to follow a University model in terms of covering a broader range of courses
  3. Changes in the external environment that would impact policy and funding, the need for which was huge.

IIT Bombay today

  • IIT Bombay compares favorably with global institutions on Faculty and students but not on Research and funding
  • The six structural challenges were Internal governance, and the need to increase Research, Infrastructure, External linkages, Faculty and Funding

IIT Bombay proposed vision and portfolio

  • Funding - need Rs. 3000 crores to fund expenses of Rs. 1000 crores by 2020 and enable the Institute to meet its aspirations
  • Students - significantly improve the quality of Ph. D students
  • Faculty - be able to attract and retain high quality faculty offer adequate compensation
  • Research - enhanced to be a world-class center in 5 focus areas and build robust networks
  • External linkages - to build locally with industry and globally with the best schools in the world
  • Governance - reorganize with a specific structure for funding, fill skill gaps from the market, increase efficiency by decentralizing and simplification of processes.

Panel Discussion

Panel members : Prof. Ashok Misra - former Director IIT Bombay, Prof. Satish Shetye - Director National Institute of Oceanography, Prof. Rohit Manchanda - IIT Bombay Faculty in Biosciences, Mr. Manohar Parrikar - IIT Bombay alumnus and ex-chief minister Goa, Mr. Ramesh Mangaleswaran - IIT Bombay alumnus from McKinsey and Prof. Devang Khakhar - present Director IIT Bombay.

Prof. Ashok Misra

  • World class infrastructure and increase seen in the number of publications, today >1600 and patents, up 8-10 fold
  • Alumni can set up grants related to new papers published or patents produced and M.Tech research projects sitting on the shelf could be converted to papers

Prof. Satish Shetye

  • IIT Bombay has responsibilities of a national nature so knowledge and expertise that the country needs must be generated for e.g. Predicting monsoon
  • IIT Bombay being proximal to two lakes can start a Limnology, the study of lakes, program

Prof. Rohit Manchanda

  • IIT Bombay history - 'Zeitgeist' from 'Confident and Poised' in the 50's to 'Uncertain times' in the 80's to 'Fighting back' mid-90's to 'On an upswing' today depicts a vibrancy and latent energies unleashed
  • Administrative work to be reduced in order for Faculty to get more time
  • Non-academic staff to be given more thought towards deployment and comfort

Mr. Manohar Parrikar

  • Academic excellence to be nurtured
  • Independence via non-procedural controls on funding is a challenge
  • JEE - innovation required

Mr. Ramesh Mangaleswaran

  • Research excellence, top quality Faculty hired and retained and diversity in sources of funding needed

Prof. Devang Khakhar

  • There are high aspirations for IIT Bombay which include to provide an outstanding education to our students, create new knowledge
  • Double up expansion on all fronts and try for increased support on funding from the government

Audience comments

  • With a view to giving IIT Bombay a socially relevant facet in 2020 it was suggested that students should be encouraged to spend time in rural India during or after their study.
  • Number of socially relevant research projects should be one of the metrics in assessing Research output
  • Leadership in all spheres was important if we needed to compete with the world
  • At times we were averse to measuring ourselves realistically - action point : Hemant Kanakia who made this comment might be asked to help
  • We should leverage the presence of our alumni in government and politics to gain more independence
  • Training in soft skills would be useful for students, staff and faculty

Sept 5 th

The second day started with Samir Kumar, alumnus from Bengaluru and compere cum most able timekeeper, bringing to mind an energetic Day 1. Due to it being the Teacher's Day, a short Guru Vandana was recited by one of our alumni. It was then time for the take-off of Triple E with Prof. Rangan Banerjee of the Dept. of Energy Sciences and Engineering, IIT Bombay, also an alumnus, making a presentation on 'Energy in India : Challenges and Opportunities'.

Part I - Perspective on India and the World

  • Energy output has to be increased but at each stage losses can be minimized and efficiencies can be maximized to make more of it available and Life cycle and Energy payback concepts could be used to estimate cost of configuring renewable energy sources
  • New technologies particularly for renewable energy sources had to be made attractive to investors and Buildings were a large part of energy users and a big opportunity lay in only building 'zero energy' buildings from now on

Part II - Education and Research in energy research in India, what IIT Bombay does

  • IIT Bombay had an interdisciplinary program in Energy Sciences
  • With help from the Jawaharlal Nehru National Science Mission a centre for photo-voltaic research was coming up. This building to be ready by April 2011 was going to be a zero-energy one and various energy science courses were offered including minor for Undergraduates that ranked 2nd in popularity of all minors
  • Alumni could take leadership role in sponsoring or mentoring or championing any of the initiatives or strengthening the link between R & D and the marketplace.

There was a resounding round of applause as Prof. Banerjee finished his presentation and request was made for conducting a full day seminar on the topic.

Mr. Ashok Kamath came on next starting the presentations on the 'Education' imperative with a discussion on his project the Akshara Foundation

Part I - Background

  • Drop-out rates were 30% in India and 45% of those children who attended school and studied up to the VIII std. couldn't read II std. materials
  • Parents were illiterate, there were no measurements for assessing the output from schooling and no idea on the year to year growth

Part II - Akshara Foundation

  • Started in Bengaluru, Karnataka in 2000 it imparted early childhood reading, writing and Math skills to slum children in the 3-6 years age group
  • Anganwadi workers have demonstrated the ability to become tuition entrepreneurs and run such skill learning centres earning around Rs. 8000/month
  • A mass effort of introducing similar skill training sessions in schools as part of the teaching curriculum was undertaken in 1400 schools in Bengaluru and within a year and several committee meetings the program will be rolled out in 48000 schools in Karnataka

Part III - The Results

  • Children have gotten vital skills they never got before and the habit of borrowing books from the library has shot up
  • Technology has been used effectively to prepare a captive database of schools and children so that effectiveness can be monitored
  • Alumni help in the assessments, monitoring and influencing of government

The next presentation was made by Mr. Ajay Kela, also alumnus, on the Wadhwani Foundation and their activities pertaining to Education and Employment

Part I - What the Wadhwani Foundation is about

  • The vision is to accelerate economic development in India via education, the four major elements being Job creation/ Entrepreneurship development/ Innovation/ Policy change
  • Programs were also being carried out for the training and placement of handicapped individuals
  • Considering the shortage of colleges in India a Community College model similar to that available in the US was being worked out at the MHRD level. Chairs in India and the US were being considered towards that end if universities help facilitate this program

Part II - IITB involvement including that of its alumni

  • $5M has been given to IITB for starting the Wadhwani Centre for Research in Biosciences and Bioengineering
  • Alumni can help via support in targeted skill development

Prof. Satish Shetye, Director National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) next gave a brief description of the institute and its priorities.

Highlights

  • India needed to produce more oceanographers. In fact the NIO had a novel scheme of involving fresh Undergraduate students as assistants in research towards that end.
  • The niche areas today for research were the effects of wind currents on the Chemistry and Biology of the Indian Ocean
  • NIO is also responsible for the EEZ in the Indian Ocean a domain identified for 'exploration and exploitation' and planned to get into the teaching sphere by starting a School of Oceanography

The last of the Triple E's pertained to Environment. Mr. Ashok Saraf and Mr. Vasant Gangawane gave presentations on their work in the Konkan Corridor Project.

Highlights

  • The focus is on rural transformation via creating non-agricultural work spaces, modern townships for housing and employment, imparting and upgrading skills amongst the rural youth and establishing market linkages
  • Catchy slogans form a part of this philosophy of transformation - 'IT in Poverty out', 'One cluster, One product', 'Investment without change in land ownership'. A network of 200 clusters had been identified in Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg.
  • The vision includes setting up of skills development centres in schools, laptops for farmers and teachers, using 3G/WA/LTE technologies impart distance education and ICT based education; challenge lay in deploying the Rs.34000 crores that is available towards building 50000 skill development centres so that a mechanism to reach the last level is made available
  • IIT Bombay can contribute via enabling its students to have grassroots experience in rural India while implementing plans from above and getting involved in social development

The talk concluded with Mr. Gangawane saying that IITians were 'crazy' and thought 'differently'; they could propose unique solutions. The duo was invited to IIT Bombay to address the students and enlighten them on the potential for rural development.

Next Mr. Sabnis made a presentation on the 'Innovations' - Ideas in practice project that the Pune chapter was working on.

  • This project started in 2007 involves helping persons with ideas in agriculture, medicine, technology etc. to bring their idea to fruition and take it to the marketplace.
  • There is an annual event with an audience of Industry, Alumni, Investors and others where the ideas are presented.

PAN IIT - Mr. Ashok Kalbag gave a brief presentation on the upcoming event at Noida. This would be the third meet in India.

  • The theme is how IITians could contribute in nation building activities with a focus on Vocational education, Research for India and Indo-US collaboration on education - one slogan being 'IITians for ITI's'

Towards the end of the program Prof. Contractor thanked all for coming, participating in the lively discussions and contributing with a length, breadth and depth of ideas on the various topics. Truly IITians were giving back! He also thanked the Bengaluru, Goa and IIT Bombay teams for organizing and managing all aspects of the 'show' so well.

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