IITH Director: Focus on tangible projects, student involvement drives project ideas

On the sidelines of the launch of the Centre for Healthcare
Entrepreneurship (CHE) at IIT Hyderabad (IITH), PaGaLGuY caught up with IITH
director Prof. U. B. Desai to discuss courses and placements at the institute.

Are there any plans to
develop more centres like the CHE?

Definitely. Some plans are in the pipeline, so I can’t talk
about them yet. But certainly, things will come through soon. Like a Centre for
Healthcare, we may also have centres for Automobiles, Aerospace etc.

Anything new at IITH
this year? How are the placements coming along?

We have moved to our permanent campus now. Even though some
work is still in progress, the environs clearly tell people about the
facilities offered to students here. The companies coming for placements, which
started on December 1 this year, are able see the quality of students the new
campus can provide. Many new companies have shown an interest in hiring
students from IITH.

IITH started a 3D
printing course last year. How has the response been? Any plans to expand the
course?

The response has been very good, the total intake last year
was over 200. We are the only IIT offering the course for the first year/first
semester students, as we feel that this is a common course, there is nothing
special about it. Based on the interest, we may expand it as a mandatory course
for all students. However, we don’t plant to make it a special course, as we
don’t believe in having smaller departments for every field. We prefer to add
optional courses to major departments instead.

What are the current
projects that students are working on? When do they get involved in these
projects?

Our students have come up with brilliant ideas. There is no
fixed timeline to when they can get involved. It all depends on them – they can
start in the first year itself. If somebody has an idea and they want to
research it, we back them with every possible requirement. The focus is to come
up with tangible products. Currently, we are working on sonography (ultrasound
for the heart). We are trying to make this technology portable and more affordable
so that it can be taken to rural areas using an industry partner.

Are these projects open
only to students? Have any students been successful from them?

Initially, we want to see how this works out for students
here at IITH. Once a structure is in place, we’ll look beyond our own students.
One of our students, Ankit Mishra, now heads a company that initially started
off as a class project. His entire project was to create stories out of photos
automatically and now his company is doing pretty well.

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