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IIT-Hyderabad to design inter-disciplinary courses

B Krishna Mohan  |  Hyderabad 

The new director of IIT-H, U B Desai, will encourage more interplay between various streams to give an edge to the students

The Indian Institute of Technology, Hyderabad (IIT-H) — one of the new IITs set up last year — is planning to design courses with a lot of interplay between various streams. It will establish schools or departments and bring three or more domains under one umbrella, according to UB Desai, the new director who took charge last week. He was earlier a faculty member at IIT Bombay.

Speaking to Business Standard, he said will encourage interdisciplinary courses to give an edge to the students. For example, it might set up a school of thermal sciences that would house electrical engineering and IT streams. There might also be a wing that would have a mix of biological sciences and information technology for a degree in bioinformatics.

The institute plans to admit 120 students this July in three streams. The faculty will continue to come from IIT Chennai even as it plans to induct some faculty shortly from the many applications that it received. is also keen to recruit retired IIT faculty settled in and around Hyderabad to become self sufficient by 2010. Research will be a key focus area for IIT-H, Desai said, adding that about 35 M.Techs will be admitted this July. The institute also plans to admit about 10-15 PhDs. Last year, it admitted 11 research scholars. The research areas will span across computer science,  chemical, electrical and mechanical engineering streams. “Faculty research will be promoted in a big way,” said Desai.

admitted 111 students last year and majority of them hailed from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala. At present, the institute is offering B.Tech courses in electrical, mechanical and computer science streams. The library, which now has text-book material in about 1,000 titles, would add a fully functional reference library with subscriptions to online journals by July.

The institute will start the construction of its permanent premises at Kandi, a village in Medak about 15 km from the Ordinance Factory where classes are being held now, in about two months. A master plan, keeping in view the growth potential for the next 50 or 75 years, is being drawn up. It will be about two years for the Phase I of the new energy efficient premises to be ready. The new campus would have a hospital, a township, academic, hostel and residential zones, sports and recreation facilities, a school, banks and shopping facilities. About 1,000 plus families are expected to live on the IIT campus once ready.

Eventually, it would have 10 departments and about 5,000 students and about 500 faculty at all levels to maintain a 1:10 faculty to student ratio. It would also gradually offer MSc courses in pure sciences. The total budget for the IIT-H complete with all facilities, faculty and infrastructure is put at Rs 1,200 crore, to be spent in phases including building a new campus in about 523 acre at Kandi.

The new institute, which is into its second year of operations, had already signed a memorandum of understanding with higher education institutes in Japan for collaborative research on fuels, environment, nano technology, telecommunications, manufacturing and civil engineering and others. It is getting responses from the US and the UK for similar tie ups and they would be formalised shortly, particularly in the areas of mechatronics. Among others, it would work on wireless communication and signal processing.

The rigour of the academic programmes would be the same as the other IITs. “IIT-H will have freedom of thought, innovation and resources,” he said, adding that the institute will work to promote a culture of innovation among the students. The first batch of MTechs from IIT-H will come out in 2011 while the BTech students will graduate in 2012. The institute also plans to set up a placement office towards mid-August in 2010.

IIT-H, meanwhile, also plans to connect with the local community and invite local schools and colleges for various events at the institute to promote a scientific temperament among students. It also plans to work with universities and higher education institutes in the state in areas of mutual interest. “It is a challenging task to develop a greenfield institute,” said Desai, adding that best practices of other IITs would be replicated here.

First Published: Mon, June 15 2009. 00:33 IST