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The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

October - 2009 - issue > Director Speak

IIT-Hyderabad: A Space to Explore

U B Desai
Monday, October 5, 2009
U B Desai
Today, academic institutions have to be competitive globally; it is just not enough to be competitive locally. Perhaps, the only way to be ahead of others in this competition is through inventions and innovations. Thus, at IIT-Hyderabad we have decided to have this as our focus from day one. But this, by no means, implies any compromise in teaching – excellence in teaching, which has been the hallmark of IITs, will continue. In fact, leading universities across the globe are those that have excelled both in research and teaching. Consequently, the vision of IIT-H is: IIT-H will be the cradle for inventions and innovations. It will advance knowledge and scholarship to students in science, technology, and liberal arts and equip them to handle the challenges of the nation and the world in the 21st century.

The thrust at IIT-H will be inventions at all levels: in technology development, science, teaching, liberal arts, theory, and entrepreneurship. Being a young institution, we do have the freedom to chart a course without being encumbered by legacy.

How we are going to achieve this is the question. Of course, resources will be required; but resources alone will not suffice. The question does not have an easy or a clear answer. One thought is to create an ambience for uninhibited thinking. The point being that, innovations flourish when we create open spaces in mind. This has to be complemented by an environment that encourages out of the box thinking. Another aspect is to create a confluence of disciplines – it is well known today that excitement is at the intersection of various disciplines. We plan to achieve this by creating schools as a cluster of departments that have some commonality. By doing so we hope to create an atmosphere where people from different disciplines are likely to cross paths, and this crossing of paths hopefully will lead to exciting cross-disciplinary research.

Another approach is to create new entities that are impacted by technology and which in turn can impact technology development. In this context, IIT-H plans to have a Medical School, a School of Design that will house Media Design, Architecture, and Industrial Design schools. Moreover, there will be a School of Liberal Arts, which will house a new Department of Fine Arts, besides various departments like Economics, Psychology, Social Anthropology, Linguistics, Literature, and Contemporary Studies. Creation of these new entities will indeed be a major differentiator for IIT-H.

At the teaching front, we plan to create a more flexible academic program: Flexibility in choosing a bouquet of courses, in the pace of learning, and in combining projects with classroom learning. There will be emphasis on structured as well as unstructured learning. The challenge is to provide flexibility without losing focus and high quality.

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