Are New IITs (Palakkad & Tirupati) Ready for Students? Interview with Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director, IIT Madras
Four new IITs have been announced by the Government this year with two of them to function from this academic year 2015-16. These two are IIT Palakkad and IIT Tirupati. As has been the norm with all the new IITs that are set up, these two IITs will be mentored by an older IIT. In this case they will mentored simultaneously by IIT Madras. Careers360 got in touch with the Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director, IIT Madras for more details on the two new IITs.
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Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi received his B.Tech in Electronics Engineering from IIT Madras in 1980 and his M.S. and Ph.D degrees from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He joined the faculty of the Department of Electrical Engineering at IIT Madras in 1986, and has also served as the Dean of Planning at IIT Madras before taking over the role of Director in September, 2011.
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One of the founding members of the Telecommunications and Computer Networking Group (TeNeT) group at IIT Madras, Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi is also the principal architect of corDECT Wireless local loop System and Broadband corDECT Wireless DSL System, widely deployed in India and 15 countries.
In the following interview, Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director, IIT Madras tells us what mentoring entails, expected facilities at the new IITs, infrastructure and why students can safely opt for seats at these two new IITs- Palakkad and Tirupati.
Careers360: IIT Madras is reportedly the mentor for IIT Palakkad and Tirupati? What does mentoring entail?
Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi: Yes, IIT Madras is mentoring the new IITs being set up in Palakkad and Tirupati. Mentoring entails (i) working with the state government and MHRD to identify suitable land for the campus, and temporary premises for running the new institute till the new campus us ready, (ii) creation of necessary infrastucture at the temporary premises for the first few batches of students, (iii) deputing faculty members and staff to the new institute for handling the classes and laboratories and for running the administration including hostels, and (iv) providing the administrative support for creating the infrastructure.
Careers360: What are the hiccups that you would expect as a mentor while setting up the new institutes?
Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi: With sufficient advance planning one can avoid hiccups. The experience gained by IIT Madras in mentoring IIT Hyderabad when it was set up few years ago stands us in good stead. We have appointed very competent professors to be in charge of the new IITs. Our infrastructure preparations at the temporary premises identified for the IITs at Tirupati and Palakkad are on schedule. We expect to be ready to receive the first batch of 120 students each, with facilties comparable to those in any other IIT.
Careers360: This is the first time any IIT will mentor two new IITs at the same time? Would it not result in over stretching the parent IIT’s resources?
Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi: Were it not for the experience gained from mentoring IIT Hyderabad, we probably would have been wary of taking on the mentoring of two IITs at the same time. Besides, it turned out that among the older IITs, IIT Madras is geographically the nearest, and the most well-connected, to both Tirupati and Palakkad. We are confident of handling the responsibility.
Careers360: Is it true that these two new IITs will start in rented premises? Any details on that? When can students expect the permanent campuses?
Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi: It takes around 4 years from the time land is handed over before a new campus is ready for occupation. It is possible for a couple of buildings, such as hostels, to be ready earlier, but not all academic buildings, laboratories, etc. In the meantime, the new IITs start functioning in a temporary premise of sufficient size with adequate hostel capacity. For both IIT Palakkad and IIT Tirupati, we have identified suitable premises for this purpose. We are procuring all the furniture and equipment needed to run classes and laboratories just as we do in any existing IIT. These assets will be moved to the new campus when it is ready.
Careers360: What kind of infrastructure can students expect in the rented campus?
Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi: The students will experience academic and living facilities similar to those in any of the IITs. The classrooms and laboratories will be equipped to the same, if not better, level, and the hostels will be as comfortable. Adequate funding has been released for this purpose.
Careers360: The new IITs will be started with just 4 core branches and 120 seats? Why?
Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi: This is the model adopted whenever any new IIT is started (this was so even in the late 50s when the first IITs were set up). We always start modestly but surely. We want to ensure that we have adequate infrastructure and faculty strength, and are able to give sufficient personal attention to the students.
Careers360: What about the faculty? Will the faculty of IIT Madras be also involved in teaching and guiding the students?
Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi: All faculty members who will be teaching are fit to be in any of the existing IITs. Some are serving faculty of IITM, others are from among those who have very recently retired. Among the faculty members are former Heads of Departments and Deans, people who are well-known for there expertise in India and abroad.
Careers360: What will be the initial faculty strength at the two IITs?
Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi: We ensure that there is a faculty member to teach every course/lab, and no faculty member teaches more than two courses in a semester, just as in any of the other IITs. We also ensure that some faculty members and staff are resident to supervise the administration and hostels, etc. Hiring of permanent faculty usually starts some time after the new IIT begins operation.
Careers360: What could be the USP of the two IITs?
Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi: This will become apparent as the new IITs develop, and will be determined largely by the leadership and faculty brought in to the new institutions.
Careers360: Since both the IITs are not close to industry (location-wise), do you think it will be a disadvantage? How the two IITs should be dealing with this challenge?
Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi: Palakkad does have some industry, and Coimbatore is less than an hour away. Similarly, Sri City is developing as a big industrial hub not far from Tirupati, and Tirupati itself is becoming an educational hub, with a university, an IIT and an IISER, not to mention several other colleges.
Careers360: Could you throw light on the fact that IIT Chhattisgarh was mentioned in the initial JoSAA brochure with seat intake but later withdrawn? Same with IIT Goa and NIT AP?
Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi: I have no information on this.
Careers360: Any advice for aspirants on why they should opt for these new IITs?
Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi: I want to assure every aspirant that they will lose nothing by opting for either IIT Palakkad or IIT Tirupati. Indeed, they will discover that they are getting not only similar facilities and infrastructure as at any IIT, but also personalised education and attention due to the smaller batch size and extra attention being paid by the faculty and staff. The first few alumni batches of any of the older IITs, who went through a similar experience, have nothing but fond memories of their days in the fledgling institutes and of their teachers. I wish to take this opportunity to welcome the first batch of students to each of the two new IITs. We will be there to receive them.
More information on the new IITs can be availed through their websites:
IIT Palakkad: http://iitpkd.ac.in/
IIT Tirupati: http://iittp.ac.in/
Careers360 thanks Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi for his valuable insights and advice to all the aspirants choosing the New IITs at Palakkad and Tirupati.