India's higher education system is the third largest in the world, only falling behind the U.S. and China. A testament to this is that India awarded about 2.3 lakhs engineering degrees, 20000 engineering mastersï¿½ degrees and about 1000 engineering Ph.Ds in 2006 alone, according to a survey. However, we find that this has not done much to abate the job scenario of engineers in the country. There are still a large number of unemployed engineers and many others serving in meagre positions in small firms. Rising to challenge this dearth is a globally recognised brand ï¿½ IIT. In March 2008, the state cabinet decided that there needs to be more IITï¿½s in the country and eight new institutes were established throughout the country. Six of them began their sessions in 2008 and Indore and Mandi began their journey in the following year. Thus, IIT Indore took up the mammoth task of producing cut throat professionals who can leap to the fore of every competition.
Led by its Director, Professor Pradeep Mathur, the Institute started with its first batch of students in 2009 and the first batch graduated this year in 2013. Today the institute has a total of approximately 500 undergraduate students and more than 190 research scholars including Masters and doctoral students. Guiding this vibrant bunch of enthusiasts is the faculty at IIT Indore that consists of accomplished and established scholars in their respective disciplines with publications, projects and programme experience. Many of them have worked in other leading institutions in India and abroad bringing their experience and learning to contribute meaningfully to the institute.
Four Years Later
Academics are an integral part of every curriculum but in today's industry no theorist without the knowledge of practical application of the concept is given a second glance. It is for this reason that IIT-I puts great emphasis on the first step towards practical application ï¿½ research.
"Our motto is "GnanamSarvajanahitaya" or Knowledge in the service of all. At IIT Indore we empower our students to achieve their desires," says Dr Nirmala Menon, Faculty and Media Coordinator, IIT Indore.
In keeping with its vision and philosophy, IIT Indore has a more project based, research oriented undergraduate program for its BTech students. Students take a complete semester off in their 7th semester where they work in close coordination with industry or another academic institution to develop hands on engineering skills. BTech projects are also conducted in close collaboration with faculty members. All of this gives students confidence in their abilities and gives them opportunities to take up leadership roles that further enhance their organizational and managerial skills. The faculty also uses new technologies as a pedagogical tool in almost all courses and the institute has very good facilities to support the same.
The institute has heavy and focused investment approach in research programmes and the results are tangible. In a short span of four years, faculty and student research has resulted in more than 300 published papers in reputed national and international journals. The institutionï¿½s research scholars have received international laurels such as PhD fellowships from IBM, summer fellowships at Frederich Nuremburg University and National University of Singapore and Bhabha Atomic Research Centre. The institution plans to bring undergraduate teaching under the ambit of a research institution, and is already beginning to witness the benefits of this. One of their students has been selected as a Google ambassador after a stiff competition. 26 B.Tech students from the Mechanical Engineering branch have developed an all purpose terrain climbing vehicle, a project which received acclaim in the BAJA-2013 competition. IIT Indore is now a part of the ALICE project at CERN.
Research scholars in Humanities and Social Sciences have been invited to prestigious programs such as the Forum on Contemporary Theory and The Institute of World Literature at Harvard University. This school also leads in enhancing the instituteï¿½s international connections; it has an active programme with France for hosting French tutors.
Preparing them for the Jump
The institution has approximately 80 faculty members and in a period of four years has chalked achievements in research, publications and projects. "I think we are now on our way to fulfil our aim as a world class institute conducting cutting edge research in all the three departments of Engineering, Basic Sciences and Humanities and Social Sciences," adds Dr Menon.
IIT is acclaimed for the foundation it lays for its students. With strong technical knowledge, scientific inquiry and critical thinking abilities the students are prepared to take on the challenges of a corporate, academia or any other industry that they may select for themselves. A sense of curiosity and innovation adds an edge to their well rounded education. Academically, this is achieved in numerous ways such as a demanding and well- rounded course curriculum, assignments, and projects. Students are also encouraged to take up leadership roles in the institute and conduct activities and projects which they do through the student 'gymkhana.' This gives them the confidence and skills that will eventually translate well in their professional careers.
IIT Indore has also developed ties with the industry for internships, placement and research collaborations. Their Industry-Academia conclave series is now in its third year. While the conclave provides students with a platform to explore opportunities for internships, workshops and placement in various disciplines, the industry participants can identify areas in which the institute can offer its expertise by working on joint academia-industry projects and by providing access to the institute's sophisticated research and development facilities. IITI has been active in hosting industry participants for various short term academic programmes in specialised areas of science and engineering; to develop and strengthen these mutually beneficial industry-academia partnerships.
Life of an IITIan
Currently, IIT Indore is operating out of two rented premises for its academic programs. All of their students are accommodated in a single township named Silver Springs in Indore. Buses ply between each of these campuses for students and while the organization eagerly awaits to move as soon as possible to the new campus, Silver Springs provides a campus like environment as all the students and a good number of faculty and staff also reside there. There is a medical clinic at Silver Springs, Students Mess and small shops run by the student gymkhana that caters to the everyday needs of students, faculty and staff.
Even with the temporary space the students enjoy the Sophisticated Instruments Laboratory, the Central Workshop, and the Language Lab which are all state of the art facilities that are available to students to conduct research and learning. This is supported by a growing and resourceful Central Library with books and journals and a vast selection of e-resources. Owing to the temporary premises, the Institute has developed three different library sites at each of the premises including the Silver Spring Township where students can use the library facility at night or in the evening hours for their study.
Looking ahead in fulfilment of its vision
In the coming years, the organization looks to make headway in three directions:
Infrastructural: After a long struggle, a definite progress ensues towards establishing their own campus in Simrol. A sustainable master plan model is ready and they are confident that it will soon be a reality. Shifting to a permanent campus will be a priority and will also allow them to afford a place to further research and academic objectives and also showcase them for national and international visitors and delegates.
Academic Programmes: IIT Indore has embarked on ambitious academic programs to complement and further its already rigorous B.Tech programme. In adding Masters and PhD programs in almost all disciplines, the aim is two-fold: to have cutting edge research programs that are inter-disciplinary and through collaborations with other universities provide an opportunity for knowledge building in higher education across the world. Second, the Masters and PhD research scholars become a way for B.Tech students to learn from and collaborate to contribute meaningfully to research questions in their fields. They are also planning to develop more inter-disciplinary Masters Programs in the institute involving all three departments.
Research and Innovation: In the coming academic year, IIT Indore is slated to host international conferences in various disciplines. It is also looking to recruit faculty and research scholars in different areas of Engineering, Sciences and Humanities and Social Sciences to widen the research areas of these disciplines. As research areas and disciplines grow so will the laboratories and other facilities to accommodate them.
"We are doing different things and will not just achieve excellent benchmarks set by the established IITï¿½s but be very competitive with them and other world class institutions," says Dr Menon.
The students and faculty of the initiation batch have worked tremendously to overcome all the challenges of a new institution. Their hard work bore fruits as more than 50 companies visited their campus for recruitment and approximately 95 percent of eligible students found placement in very good organisations.
With its high tech labs, huge well of resource in the form of a library; both virtual and traditional, a highly competitive bunch of students and faculty experts and scientists, IIT Indore can well be the first choice among all the IIT's.