As the world completes the 2nd decade of the 21st
century, IIT Mandi has completed its 1 st decade.
At this juncture, it is good to look back at our
achievements as these form the foundation for the
future goals and growth of the Institute. In
October, I had traced the 10-year Odyssey of IIT
Mandi from a green-field to a vibrant IIT in my
7th Convocation Speech available at
http://iitmandi.ac.in/7thconvocation_speech. Starting with 97 BTech students in July 2019 and a horse farm for a campus, IIT Mandi has
grown steadily. From 2013 to 2019, we have graduated 1,135 alumni. During 2019, we
have increased students by 25% to 1,600, faculty by 20% to 120+, regular/contract staff by
50% to 75, and space by 45% to 1.4 lakh sq metres.
Starting with 97 BTech students in July 2019 and a horse farm for a campus, IIT Mandi has grown steadily. From 2013 to 2019, we have graduated 1,135 alumni. During 2019, we have increased students by 25% to 1,600, faculty by 20% to 120+, regular/contract staff by 50% to 75, and space by 45% to 1.4 lakh sq metres.
Today, IIT Mandi has all the attributes of a world-class IIT. In the 2019 NIRF rankings: it placed 20 th nationally in the Engineering category; it is ranked 1st in Himachal Pradesh in both the General and the Engineering categories; in Outreach and Inclusivity, IIT Mandi ranks 1st among all IITs.
Building on the foundations laid over 10 years, 2019 has seen several noteworthy achievements of our faculty and students.
To name a few:
· Dr. Manu Devadevan was selected for the prestigious Infosys 2019 Prize in Humanities. While 6 prizes were awarded in 6 disciplines, it is commendable that a young Assistant Professor from a remote, new IIT won the prize along with 5 senior Professors/researchers from well established institutions.
· Between 2017-2019, BTech student Nitesh Kumar took his tally of gold/silver/bronze medals in International Para-Badminton to 13. A remarkable achievement for one so young.
· Our 2nd BTech girls, Nishita, Mehak and Ruchika won first place in the 4th National ACM-W Hackathon. They competed against about 200 teams from around India. They credited their success to our unusual curriculum that teaches data science and machine learning to all BTech students in the first 3 semesters, and to the emphasis on project-based learning from Day 1.
· In the 8th IIT Tech Meet held at IIT Roorkee in December, IIT Mandi teams have won one gold and 3 bronze medals against stiff competition.
In 2019, campus construction continued at a rapid pace, adding about 40,000 sqm of space. This enabled the shift of the complete BTech to the North Campus, along with about 40% of the faculty. This has facilitated a more vibrant residential learning experience for the BTech students. The increased space has supported expansion of research activities. The campus has become significantly greener and has an enviable collection of indoor and outdoor sports facilities. This helped our students to win bronze in cricket in the recent Inter-IIT Sports Meet in IIT Kharagpur.
On the teaching front, during 2019 we added 3 new BTech programmes in Data Science & Engg, Engineering Physics and Bioengineering (a dual-degree programme). This brings our total degree programmes to 7 UG and 14 PG, from 3 in 2009. It is noteworthy that we are the first IIT to start a BTech in Data Science and Engineering. Besides this, since 2018 all our BTech students study 3 semesters of data science and machine learning. During the last semester, Data Science Class Relaxing before Finals we introduced basics of data science for MSc (Chemistry) and other PG students with the unusual prerequisite that they should not have had have any prior exposure to programming. Thus, IIT Mandi is leading the data science wave on several fronts.
Globalisation of our faculty and student bodies is key to global renown. During 2019, faculty teams visited universities in Kenya and Ethiopia to explore academic collaborations and to attract foreign students to apply to IIT Mandi for PG programmes. Already, IIT Mandi has 13 students from SAARC countries, and several from Africa are expected to join in Jan-Feb 2020.
Our alumni strength of 1,135 is rapidly catching up to our student population, with the first batch of alumni having graduated 6 1/2 years ago. We have ramped up our alumni activities during the year. An online portal facilitates networking between alumni, students and faculty. During the year, we formalised the Alumni Association and started Alumni Chapters in Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi. The first meetings of these chapters were attended by a range of UG and PG alumni with myself and faculty from IIT Mandi travelling for the meetings.
The support staff are the unsung backbone of an academic institution. Besides rising to the occasion and working around the clock for organising special events, they work tirelessly behind the scenes every day to support the faculty and students in their academic pursuits. In 2019, we increased the staff strength by 50%. This increase, together with progress in office automation, has helped us to improve services to faculty and students. With the increase in staff, we can also now afford to devote more attention to formal training of staff to help them in their job and in their next higher job.
The C.V. Raman Guest House with 88 rooms now has a professional manager and sufficient staff to cater to large events. Indeed, during 2019 our Conference Centre has hosted over a dozen national and international conferences and workshops. These have brought about 2,000 academic visitors to our campus, including many renowned Alumni Chapter, Bangalore experts from India and abroad. In the years to come, this Conference Centre has the potential to become a leading venue for high- quality academic events.
Outreach activities benefiting the people of Himachal has been a key part of our vision since inception. By the end of 2019, businesses started by rural women under the aegis of IIT Mandi's EWOK had achieved a total revenue of about Rs. 65 lakhs, generating employment for over 60 villagers. To enhance the connect between IIT Mandi and the people of the region, in November 2019 we started Prayas, a forum consisting of representatives from IIT Mandi and the Mandi District. Chaired by the Director, IIT Mandi and Co-Chaired by the DC, Mandi the intent of Prayas is to facilitate discussions on problems of Mandi town and the surroundings. Problem-specific task forces will be formed to provide innovative technology-based solutions. IIT Mandi Catalyst continues to lead the startup ecosystem in Himachal. It is currently incubating about 25 startups. During 2019, Catalyst received additional funding of Rs. 11.7 crores from DST and MEITY.
Through the yeoman efforts of the pioneering faculty, students and staff, IIT Mandi today has national and international achievements to its credit. Yet there is a long way to go before IIT Mandi is a world leader in some academic area. Having completed 10 years as founding Director, I will soon be handing over the reins to the next Director. One of the challenges will be to retain the pioneering spirit, the willingness to experiment with novel methodologies and approaches, to work on major problems of our society. I am confident that with the firm foundations built over the past 10 years, the IIT Mandi community will continue to excel to serve the nation from the remote and scenic Uhl River Valley!
With Best Wishes for a Happy and
Fulfilling New Year!
Timothy A. Gonsalves