“Time isn’t the main thing. It’s the only thing.” – Miles Davis, one of the most influential and acclaimed figures in the history of jazz and 20th century music
The Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar was established in the year 2008, with the aim to offer leading education in India. A strong promoter of critical thinking with an appreciation for the interdisciplinary character of knowledge, IITGN extensively emphasizes liberal arts, design and life sciences, project oriented learning and globalization.
The institute recently completed ten years since its establishment. Here is a throwback to some avant garde initiatives and unique features kickstarted by this institute for the betterment of its students over the years, which add a brilliant and undying spark to its successful and glorious journey.
An active and passionate academic administrator and one of the leading earthquake engineers of India, Dr. Sudhir Jain, joined the IITGN family in 2008-09 as its Founder Director. During his ten years at the Institute, he has experimented with numerous innovative ideas and approaches. With his energetic leadership, the Institute has successfully created a number of initiatives to inculcate and promote excellence by the students and faculty and has carved out a distinct identity in the IIT universe. He has recently been reappointed as the Director of IIT Gandhinagar for the third time by the President of India.
An interdisciplinary approach expands the boundaries of creation like none other and forms the bedrock of unmatched innovations. This is the reason why maximum interdisciplinary interaction serves as the backbone of all the aspects of academic culture at the Institute since its inception. It is clearly visible in the form of dedicated students (a fairly large number have their principal investigators/ Co-PI/ PhD advisers from an outside discipline), a zealous faculty (majority which is part of multiple disciplines) and the latest open-collaborative-lab system that actively prevails throughout the campus.
The start of 2010 marked the beginning of a unique initiative called the Non-Degree Programme which aims to open the doors of IITGN and welcome non-IITians from any institute of the country or abroad to attend classes here as an active effort towards enhancing their understanding of the academic culture at IITs.
Focused on students with good academic performance, the Earn While You Learn Programme was established so as to promote their overall development by providing them financial support in return for their help in undertaking several academic responsibilities at the Institute.
A strong promoter of the idea of safe and empowered women, the Institute constituted the Women’s Cell with the sole purpose of protecting females against any kind of harassment, maintaining their dignity and providing them countless opportunities for empowerment in all possible fields and areas.
Amalthea, an annual technical summit of IIT Gandhinagar was also founded by students this year. It remains the only technical summit in the entire country which is completely student-driven.
The word Nyasa means ‘trust’ in Sanskrit. At IIT Gandhinagar, it means stretching out our trustworthy hands to help some little eyes that dream of a better life under their thatched huts. Started in 2011, Nyasa primarily aims to support and educate the children of migrant construction workers in and around campus.
The Institute places great emphasis on not only educating successful engineers of the future, but also creating well-rounded personalities, who contribute to society, are respectful of and can adapt to their surroundings, and prove themselves to be great thinkers and problem solvers in all avenues of life. Working along these lines, a 5-week annual Foundation Programme, the first of its kind in India was started for the first year students. Over the years, this initiative has been emulated by a number of renowned colleges and universities across India.
Initiated in December 2011, India-Ki-Khoj is a ten-day annual intensive module focusing upon the appreciation of India through diverse lectures and field visits. This programme is designed to help overseas students understand the many layers that form identity in our country. It communicates the many imaginations about India, and provides a flavor of its unified diversity as well as some overarching generalities.
IIT Gandhinagar understands that the 21st century tech is all about elegant design which has become an integral part of the latest inventions and innovations. As an active effort towards this direction, the Design and Innovation Centre (DIC) was established. The objective was to conceive and develop products that aid in the betterment of the society. The Centre follows a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary human-centric design philosophy by means of its numerous curricular and extracurricular activities so as to spread the required awareness and education among students.
On July 22nd 2012, IIT Gandhinagar held its first Convocation in which 86 graduating students were awarded degrees in the presence of Shri N. R. Narayana Murthy, Chief Mentor of Infosys Technologies as the Chief Guest of this memorable event. Shri Murthy encouraged graduates to participate in the exciting opportunities that lay ahead in building a strong and egalitarian India. A farewell event, Udaan, was held to bid adieu to the graduating pioneer batch of IIT Gandhinagar. Since then, this fun-filled emotional evening is conducted annually for all the graduating batches through all these years.
This was also the first year of student placements. Out of a total of 59 students who sought placements, 54 were successful in securing compelling salary packages by becoming a part of renowned organizations and companies of their liking.
In the present times, acquiring a deep understanding of the past of humankind constitutes the backbone of building a better world for our future generations. Realizing the potential of modern scientific aids in this regard, the Archaeological Sciences Centre (ASC) was established. The focus area of this Centre includes the study of archaeology in multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives. ASC follows a research-oriented approach to bridge the gap between archaeologists and the scientific community in today’s world so as to unravel numerous mysteries of history. This would be beneficial towards the latest science and technology advancements, in the long run.
The Centre for Biomedical Engineering (CBE) was initiated with the sole purpose of utilizing engineering for the betterment of people in every way possible. CBE undertakes cutting-edge research in various areas so as to develop products and services that are of social relevance to India, as well as across the globe. The Center focuses on developing science and technology with an engineering perspective by ideating and producing low-cost inventions and innovations related to healthcare.
Continuing its unstoppable journey towards building a successful future for its students, the Institute won the World Education Award 2013 for innovations in its BTech Programme at the World Education Summit in New Delhi. This Summit is organized annually by the All India Council for Technical Education, Elets Technomedia, National Council for Education Research and Training (NCERT), and United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
IITGN became the first educational institute in India to establish a two year MSc programme in cognitive science. An emerging field promoting interdisciplinary interactions, cognitive science is known to play a decisive role in the development and progression of next generation intelligent systems.
The Institute was awarded the World Education Award for the second time in 2014 at the World Education Summit, New Delhi, in the category of Global Collaborative Learning. The Institute was recognized for its outstanding performance in globalizing its curriculum, an important part of which includes providing study abroad opportunities to a fairly large number of its students. This number is 3 times the average at any US university and 2 times the average at any Australian university. Apart from this, the other core features constitute engaging a large number of international faculty, collaborative courses and projects with leading international institutes and participation of international students in its programmes.
IIT Gandhinagar has always been a strong supporter of uplifting the weaker sections of the society. The Institute’s Construction Workers’ Welfare Programme won the National HUDCO Award for Best Practices to Improve the Living Environment 2013-14 which recognizes both institutional commitments to construction workers’ welfare and safety, as well as the efforts of Nyasa, a community volunteer programme of the institute aimed to educate the children of these workers.
First TEDx IIT Gandhinagar was hosted in collaboration with TED, a nonprofit organization devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading”.
The Institute is a firm believer of ‘equal development for all’. Hence, a community outreach programme called NEEV was established with the sole objective to empower grassroots through workforce development, with a focus on entrepreneurship and skills training. The programme’s focus beneficiaries include youth and women from rural and urban localities from the areas surrounding the Institute.
** More interesting stuff is yet to come..!!! The second part of this article, covering the years 2015-2019, will provide an insight on various first-of-its-kind-in-India initiatives like the adventurous Explorer’s Fellowship, ingenious Invent@IITGN, and fun-‘n’-educative Centre for Creative Learning, in the long list of many others. So, stay tuned….