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'Our aim is to encourage product designing, product creation'

Read more on:    Q&a: Madhusudan Chakraborty
Madhusudan Chakraborty
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IIT-Bhubaneswar, which found its mentor in IIT-Kharagpur in July 2008, will start its maiden academic year in Bhubaneswar from July 22 this year. In an interview with Pradipta Mukherjee, IIT-Bhubaneswar Director Madhusudan Chakraborty says the institute is investing in building a residential campus to accommodate nearly 2,500 students and 280 faculty within the next 3-4 years. Edited excerpts:

What are the institute’s immediate campus expansion plans?
We received 936 acres from the Orissa government in Argul. The master plan for the permanent and residential IIT-Bhubaneswar campuses is almost ready. Next we will appoint architects and consultants for project and construction management. IIT-Kharagpur will continue to be the mentor institute for IIT-Bhubaneswar for 2-3 years, beginning 2008. We started at the IIT-KGP campus in July 2008 with 100 students. Now we have moved to a temporary campus of 45,000 sq ft in Bhubaneswar. This space is IIT-KGP’s extension centre and was given to us by IIT-KGP. Currently, we are putting up all our students and faculty in a housing complex where we have hired 60 large flats.

Academically, what are your focus areas?
We started with three courses in July 2008. These were BTech degrees in civil, electrical and mechanical engineering. We plan to start a school of mineral and material engineering, considering the rich resources of Orissa. Also we intend to start studies in ocean sciences, environmental sciences and disaster management. School of chemical and bio-chemical engineering is also another priority area. Our new campus of 936 acres will have a science park where various industries would come and work with students and faculty. This will ensure our students’ exposure to on-job learning.

Also, we will not have separate departments for each discipline. For instance, we will have only one school of basic sciences which will encompass subjects like Physics, Chemistry, bio-science, arts sciences, and others. Similarly, our school of infrastructure management will encompass everything from construction, architecture to building materials, etc. This will ensure multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary research and interaction. Our aim is to encourage product designing and product creation based on societal needs, and in order to do that, a student needs to know right from the material selection to manufacturing to production to finished goods. Therefore, each school of learning should address all necessary knowledge required to build a product specific to that industry.

How many students and faculty do you have now, and what is the plan ahead?
When we started from IIT-KGP last year, we had 100 students. This year we have moved to the temporary campus in Bhubaneswar with 94 second-year students. We have 120 first years and 20 preparatory students. We will coach the preparatory students for a year and next year they can seek admission wherever there would be vacancies. If all 20 manage to score good marks, IIT-Bhub may retain all of them. We have 27 faculty members right now taking care of the first and second year students, and the drive is on for recruiting more faculty. Our plan is to have 2,500 students and 280 faculty within 3-4 years. In 15 years from now, we should have 10,000 students, 1,100 faculty and nearly 1,400 supporting staff.

How much funds are required to sustain the expansion you are planning?
We started with Rs 12 crore that government of India gave us for 2008-09. For 2009-10, we are expecting Rs 50 crore more. Soon, sponsored research will also start pouring in, which will be another source of revenue for us. Our main areas of expenditure include academics, campus construction and expansion, building infrastructure like proper laboratories and their maintenance, among other things. 

Any specific plans to encourage research?
Research is one of our main focus areas and we are encouraging faculty to join us with their own research scholars. Even professors from other institutions would come to IIT-Bhubaneswar with their projects. All these projects are funded by various government departments and agencies, so once the researchers come to IIT-Bhubaneswar, the research funds would get transferred to our institute. We will soon advertise for research scholars to engage them in creating new knowledge, as then publish the findings. Also, faculty pay scale would be revised and we would get to know the revised pay scale soon. Currently, an IIT professor gets around Rs 50-55,000 per month, on an average.

IIT-Bhubaneswar is also making provision for up to Rs 5 lakh research grant to a faculty. This would help them to invest in necessary infrastructure they require to carry out their research, like softwares, hardwares, books and journals, etc. Student researchers get a grant of Rs 15,000 per month. International exposure for faculty and student researchers and presenting their research papers at international conferences is another priority area.

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