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Director's Message, New Year 2015

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Director's Message, New Year 2015
January 05, 2015 05:01PM
Situated in a remote, rustic river valley in the Himalayas, IIT Mandi is making a name for itself in India and outside thanks to the academic achievements of its faculty and students, ably supported by the hard-working staff. The Year 2014 has seen continual growth of IIT Mandi, with consolidation of ongoing efforts and some major new initiatives. We have achieved many of our goals for the year, though we have slipped in a few. The Year 2015 holds promise of much progress and excitement.

Kamand campus in January 2014

The Year 2014

Concurrent with the completion of new buildings, we have expanded our academic activities during the year. In August, the first MSc and MTech students joined, in Chemistry and Materials for Energy respectively. Our planned expansion in BioX is moving forward with offers made to 6 faculty from various parts of the globe. Four faculty are already on board and others are expected in early 2015. They are setting up their research lab in the Mandav building in Mandi where they will explore applications of biological sciences and technologies in agriculture and medicine.

Civil Engineering Workshop, October 2014

During 2014, we held two brainstorming workshops to plan the directions and curriculum for infrastructure/civil engineering. Distinguished participants included Prof. V.S. Raju, former Director of IIT Delhi, and from Germany, Prof. Novak, Stuttgart University and Herr Mutschler, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. These workshops identified several areas of focus related to mountain regions, and defined the broad outlines of the BTech curriculum. We will be interviewing prospective faculty on 8th-9th January and they are expected to start the BTech in Civil Engineering in August 2015.

In a sign of the maturing of IIT, Lakshman Mahto from Jharkhand earned the distinction of being the first person to complete a PhD entirely in IIT Mandi. One of the first batch of PhD students, he joined IIT on 20th October, 2010. Working under the guidance of Dr. Syed Abbas, he completed his PhD in just under 4 years. In another first, Dr. Om Prakash Singh along with his students Shaik Ahmed and Abhilash filed a patent on "Dye sensitised solar panels by an aerosol jet 3d printing mechanism".

Laksman Mahto receives his provisional degree certificate

Despite its remote location in a largely agrarian region, our faculty have been forging ties with industry in India and elsewhere. The first major industry-sponsored R&D, the Intel project for development of the next generation photoresist material started in 2012. This has created novel photoresists that improve on the state-of-the-art. During 2014, our faculty have established ties with industry in other areas including electrical power, medical image processing, data analytics and decision-making.

In May, we hosted the 2nd CII-IIT Academia-Industry Conclave in Kamand. On 1st August, I had the honour of inaugurating IITians Technology, the first startup by an alumnus of IIT Mandi. Dhirendra Kumar graduated with a BTech(EE) in June 2014. Within a month, he had identified a good business opportunity in training for students of engineering colleges. He left his job and founded IITians Technology in Shimla.

Dhirendra Kumar and his team at IITians Technology

In May 2011, we had signed an MoU with the TU9 in Germany. There were some visits from IIT Mandi to TU9 during 2011-13. In February 2014, Prof Ressel, Rektor Stuttgart University, visited IIT Mandi with the good news that the BMBF had given €250,000 for exchange visits. By the end of 2014, 3 IIT Mandi faculty had visited Stuttgart University and TU9 for 1-3 months each, and 2 Professors from Stuttgart University had visited IIT Mandi. During 2014, about a dozen of our students have visited universities in Germany and Sweden on exchange programs ranging from 2-12 months. We have hosted a few students from Germany, Switzerland and Thailand.

Tulika discusses E.coli mutants with Prof. Sprenger in Stuttgart

Following the dictum a sound mind in a sound body, a contingent of 90+ students participated in the 50th Inter-IIT Sports Meet in IIT Bombay in December. The girls table tennis team, Apoorva (Captain), Anshu and Shushmita, made history by winning IIT Mandi's first team medal in the student InterIIT Sports. They bagged the bronze after defeating IIT Madras 3-0!

IIT Mandi at the 50th Inter-IIT Sports at IIT-B

We are proud that IIT Mandi was the first of the new IITs to occupy its permanent campus in 2012. Since then, we have made much progress towards a fully residential campus. Since August 2014, about 70% of the students and about 40% of the faculty have been resident in Kamand. Due to unforeseen obstacles, we have not met our goal of shifting completely to the new campus in 2014.

South Campus – indoor badminton, hostels, Mess and residences all in use

The Year Ahead

IIT Mandi today has all the characteristics and achievements of a healthy and vibrant Indian Institute of Technology. Our plans for 2015 include:

Shifting the entire Institute to Kamand: The pace of construction has picked up, and we expect most of the remaining students to shift to Kamand in Feb 2015, and the remaining faculty to be accommodated in Kamand by the end of 2015. By the end of 2015, we expect to have 700 students, 70 faculty and 100+ staff working and (mostly) living in Kamand.

Cementing industry ties: Besides doing R&D for industry, we aim to attract industry to the Mandi region. This will increase the prosperity of the region and will foster the use of technology to improve the lifestyles of the largely rural population of the Himalayan region.

Inspecting construction in the North Campus

External Peer Review: The IIT Council will appoint a Review Committee consisting of experts drawn from India and abroad. The Review Committee will spend a few days at IIT Mandi to evaluate our vision, mission, strategies, achievements and plans against national and global benchmarks. The report of the Review Committee will serve as a validation of our own self-assessment.

New faculty, students enjoy Kamand!

Improving our standards: Through the Board of Academics and other mechanisms, we constantly strive to raise the bar for ourselves in all academic endeavours.

Through their sterling efforts, our faculty and students are proving that the serene Uhl River Valley in the Himalayas is an ideal location for world-class research, learning and innovation!
With Best Wishes for a Happy and Rewarding New Year.

Timothy A. Gonsalves
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