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2nd weekly Message from Dean – March 25, 2014

Dear Alumnus/ Alumna, 

This is (again!) Nagarajan, BTCH-81, and now Dean of International & Alumni Relations at IIT Madras. My resolution to stay in touch with alumni through weekly messages posted on LinkedIn & Facebook remains intact, and this is the 2nd one. Hope you find these useful & informative….

The major Event of last week was the inauguration of the new Women’s Hostel, “Sabarmati” by the outgoing Chairman of the Board of Governors, Prof. MM Sharma. With this opening of the 3rd hostel (Sarayu & Sharavati being the first two), the crunch in accommodation for female students should ease considerably. For those keeping score, the % of girls among IITM students is now about 15% (compared to the earlier decades when it hovered around 2%!). Among Ph.D. and M.S. scholars, it is nearly 30%. The trend bodes well for gender ratio on campus.

Nominations opened last week for the 2015 Distinguished Alumnus/ Alumna Awards, and may be submitted online at http://alumni.iitm.ac.in/daa. We have exceeded 100 awards thus far, and are now awarding 10 alumni each year, and yet the pool (40,000+ strong) is so deep and so deserving that we could give 100 of these a year, and barely scratch the surface. Do take time to nominate….

A major gift from an alumnus to IITM was committed last week. Dr. Krishna Chivakula (MTAE-70), MD of Indo MIM, Bangalore, has agreed to contribute Rs. 1.5 crores towards the “IITM Satellite” project, a path-breaking inter-disciplinary endeavour involving students and faculty (http://iitmsat.iitm.ac.in). The support of Mr. S Shankar (MTAE-70), GM, Indo MIM, is also gratefully acknowledged. A Team comprising of Profs. David Koilpillai, Harishankar Ramachandran, SS Bhattacharya and I visited Indo MIM on March 17, along with students involved. The Team’s presentation was received very well, and received an instant & positive response. The satellite will carry a unique payload. For the curious among you, two words: earthquake prediction!

Other activities of note:
• On Friday, March 21, I appeared on a CII panel on “Leveraging alumni for institutional transformation & funding” as part of a Conference on Higher Education (“Innovations in Policy Planning & Funding”), and dispensed some gyan!
• On Tuesday, the Director and I hosted the Australian Minister Commercial for India, Ms. Nicola Watkinson, and discussed the way forward for international collaboration, with a focus on enlisting industry to the cause. The theme continued at dinner that night with several automotive industry representatives participating.
• IITM Research Park (http://respark.iitm.ac.in) continues to occupy a unique niche in industry/ academic relations. A Client/ Faculty Committee Meeting convened on Wednesday by Prof. Ashok Jhunjhunwala (Faculty-in-Charge, IITMRP) saw a frank exchange of views regarding how the interconnects could be strengthened.
• NUS Singapore is engaged in a Joint Doctorate Program with IIT Madras. I met with the NUS Coordinator, Prof. Chaudhari, over breakfast on Saturday at Bose-Einstein Guest House, and identified the next steps to intensify the engagement. Faculty interactions and student exchanges will be promoted during the course of the year.
• On Friday, Dean of Academic Courses, Prof. K Ramamurthy, convened an interview panel to select candidates for DAAD-sponsored scholarships for 2014-15. Nearly 20 students take advantage of this every year to spend significant time at German universities.
• Also on Friday, Dr. Meka Papa Rao (BTME-70), Chairman & MD, Amma Lines Pvt. Ltd., delivered a lecture in the “Leadership Lecture Series” featuring alumni. A gregarious person and engaging speaker, his presentation on “Hovercrafts, Fusion Reactors and Ports, and the thread that connects them: Innovation in Engineering” enthralled the audience.

Another eventful week, and stayed tune for more to come….