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Kamand Inauguration, 9th March 2013: Director's Speech

Posted by chandan 
Kamand Inauguration, 9th March 2013: Director's Speech
March 12, 2013 09:46AM
Welcome to IIT Mandi, to our permanent home in the Uhl River Valley at Kamand. A
few months ago, when our Chairman, Mr. Natarajan and I met Dr. Pallam Raju, HRD
Minister, we invited him to visit IIT Mandi. Despite Mandi's remoteness and his busy
schedule with Parliament in session, he readily accepted our invitation. This is just one
indication of his support and dedication to the IIT system, and especially the new IITs.
Sir, we are honoured by your presence with us on this historic occasion.
About 6 years ago, Shri Virbhadra Singh, CM of Himachal, Ashok Thakur who was
then Add'l Secy, MHRD, and leaders from Mandi – Shri Kaul Singh Thakur, Shri Anil
Sharma and Shri Prakash Chaudhary had the vision of creating a world-class IIT in this
largely rural, agrarian hill State. It is an honour to have these visionaries with us today.
Others said it was a hopeless dream: not possible to hire world-class faculty, cannot do
experimental research, construction takes very long in the hills, ... Where some might
see this as a remote location in a very challenging terrain, we saw the beauty of the
surroundings and the advantages of an “Ivory Tower” a bit removed from all the noise
and distractions of modern life.
Although the foundation stone was laid at Kamand on 24th Feb. 2009, the first batch of
students of IIT Mandi spent 2009-10 in IIT-Roorkee. In the middle of 2010, we shifted
to a transit campus in Mandi town, with our own faculty and staff. The faculty, staff and
students set to work with a will to build IIT Mandi from scratch in to a world-renowned
Institute.
The academic session was inaugurated on 15th August 2010, the first research paper from
Mandi was published in September 2010. Thereafter, slowly but steadily, IIT Mandi has
been achieving milestones in its growth to a full-fledged member of the IIT System.
Some important milestones:
1. In this era of globalization, partnerships with like-minded institutions globally is a
key part of our strategy for growth. We were fortunate to be able to sign an MoU
with the TU9 in May 2011. TU9 is a consortium of the 9 leading technical
universities of Germany. Already several bilateral visits have taken place under
this MoU.
2. IIT Mandi has identified a few focus areas where we concentrate our efforts for
greater impact. One of these is embodied in the new Advanced Materials Research
Centre building that has been inaugurated today. Today, we have about 17 faculty
whose research interests are in materials. This includes two Distinguished
Professors. These faculty, with about 30 PhDs and postdocs, span the range from
the basic physics and chemistry of materials, to devices, to applications in
electrical and electronics engineering, health and agriculture. Representing about
30% of our faculty, this is a potent concentration of talent.
An indicator of their dynamism: starting from scratch, our faculty built up the
facilities, and published the first international paper on a novel material
synthesized in IIT Mandi in the short period of 18 months. This group of
researchers has already obtained Rs. 5 crores of research funding. This includes a
$315,000 grant from Intel Corp., USA for the development of organic resists for
advanced VLSI fabrication.
3. India is today renowned as the Service House for the World, providing a range of
IT and other services. The need is for India to become the Design House for the
World, owing the design of novel and useful products. We have re-designed our
B.Tech. curriculum with a strong focus on design, on team-work, on learning by
doing from the 1st year to the 4th year. Student teams take up problems of the local
society, design solutions and build prototypes.
An indication of the merit of our curriculum: in the first round of placements that
started in November 2012 – within 6 weeks nearly 1⁄2 the students had got jobs in
India's top technology companies.
4. IIT Mandi's vision includes working for the benefit of all segments of society,
especially the rural and Himalayan population who are relatively at a
disadvantage. To this end:
a) we are building up a strong and vibrant School of Humanities and Social
Sciences. Currently, it comprises about 15% of our faculty. Besides doing
their own research, these faculty teach B.Tech. students and co-guide some of
their technical projects.
b) We have started the Centre for Innovative Technologies for the Himalayan
Region, funded by DST. The goal is to deploy cost-effective technological
solutions in cooperation with local bodies.
c) Aakash is the revolutionary low-cost tablet designed by MHRD for schools
and colleges. IIT Mandi is one of only 5 IITs selected for an Aakash Lab – in
this, students will compete to develop innovative applications for Aakash.
d) Project Centre for WPI. 20-25 American students will spend 2-3 months in
Kamand every year. They will work with our students on technological
solutions to the problems of Mandi and Himachal.
e) Faculty and students are working to improve the quality of regional schools
and colleges. Our students coach children from govt schools around Mandi in
sciences. Our faculty participate in various Science popularisation
programmes. They visit colleges for guest lectures, and run short-term courses
to train teachers from other colleges.
These are only a few milestones. IIT Mandi has been quietly working on academics,
research, sports, cultural and other activities that are the bread and butter of any well-
reputed Institute of Technology.
Our unique advantage is the Kamand campus. Rapid development and use of this has
been a priority from the start.
• Lease of 200 acres Animal Husbandry signed on 17/1/2011
• Mechanical Workshop functioning and used by our students from March 2012
• Ground-breaking on 13th April 2012
• Commissioning of sophisticated X-Ray Diffractometer (Rs. 1.75 cr) in a
renovated Stable on 25th May 2012
• Director, his wife and dog Rusty, a few PG students, faculty and staff shift their
residence and offices to Kamand in June-July 2012
• Classes for 2nd BTech batch commence in Kamand on 1st August
• New Mess ready on 23rd Sept, batch of 108 2nd BTech students shift to the campus
– residing, studying, playing here
• 9th March 2013: a historic day when the Prashar Hostel and the Advanced
Materials Research Centre building are inaugurated
• 10,000 sqm to be ready by April 2013
• Rest of the Institute to shift to Kamand during 2013
• Phase 1 – 1,25,000 sqm providing a fully residential campus to about 1,700
students, 170 faculty and supporting staff – complete by February 2015.
The design of the campus is unique. It is in keeping with the traditional village
architecture of Himachal. Concern for the enviroment has been of prime importance.
Before we started looking for architects, we commissioned an Ecological survey of the
campus, which resulted in an Eco-Management Plan. The construction has already
brought considerable prosperity to Kamand, Kataula and Mandi. Local businesses are
flourishing, many local people are hired for IIT construction and other operations, we
are paying crores to Himachal in entry taxes and for upgradation of EB infrastructure.
The Future
Expansion in BioX (biosciences and biotechnology). Motivated by the needs of the
Himalayan states – agriculture and environmental studies. Also, by need for affordable
healthcare for all Indians.
Research Park
Bring high-tech, clean industry to the Mandi area. Leverage the strengths of the faculty
and other researchers here. Eg, Internet Data Centres, ICT, Renewable energy, bio/nano-
materials.
Need good infrastructure – land, telecommunications, air and road access from
Chandigarh and Delhi.
We have submitted a proposal for funding to the Hon'ble Dr. Pallam Raju. On behalf of
IIT Mandi, I request that you consider it favourably.
Conclusions
4 years ago, IIT Mandi was a dream. Could we build an Institute of Technology, on par
with the best in the world, in this remote valley in the Himalayas, in an area plagued by
landslides, bad roads and bitterly cold winters, in an agrarian state with little industry?
Many said it was a foolish dream. We did not believe them.
Today, with the inauguration and use of state-of-the-art buildings completed in a short
time, and our other achievements over the past 3 years, IIT Mandi has taken the initial
steps to realising this impossible dream.
• We have faculty with PhDs from the best Universities in India, Europe and North
America.
• We have done experimental research that is globally recognised.
• Our students are sought after by the top companies in India
• Our students are accepted in good Universities abroad for higher studies, for
training in geothermal, for semester-long exchange, ...
• We have built up and used our main campus, before all other new IITs!
This has taken dedication and effort from IIT faculty, staff and students, and the support
and help of the people of Himachal and the Govt of Himachal. We still have a long way
to go. But, the journey we have travelled so far, gives us the confidence that we will in
years to come, realise the dream of a world-renowned Institute of Technology in the Dev
Bhumi Himachal, that IIT Mandi will be the best in the world in some fields, and that
IIT Mandi will be the engine of major technological improvements in the lives of the
people of this Himalayan region, a gem in the snowy crown of India.

Jai Hind

9th March 2013

Kamand Inauguration



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/12/2013 09:49AM by chandan.
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