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IIT Jodhpur - A Fresh Approach to Technical Education

The newly founded IIT Jodhpur is one of the premier technical institutions spearheading India’s crusade for building a smart and competitive technological edge. Here is an introduction to its approach and aspirations.
BY C.V.R. Murthy & M.L. Bapna |   02-02-2015
A new institute of technology ought to reflect on the way technical education has been conducted in the country since the country’s independence (accentuate the strengths and eliminate the weaknesses therein), and make new beginnings on a number of fronts that had remained unaddressed in the Institutes in the past. This is the precise recipe that we have followed at IIT Jodhpur over the past year to cast the master plan of the Institute’s academic (and infrastructural) development. Started in 2008-09 with 7 other new IITs, IIT Jodhpur has had the courage to experiment with new models of building a technical institute; yes, some worked well and others did not. But, one point is clear, we acquired the courage to think fresh.

 IIT Jodhpur’s development plan rides on one bottom line – to establish a top teaching-learning institute doing quality research and addressing the technological challenges of the nation. The key words here are: top, learning, quality, technology and nation. Hence, five pillars were identified to form the framework of IIT Jodhpur’s fresh strategic plan.

1. Sectoral Technology Institute
IIT Jodhpur is on a steep development agenda. In the initial years, we are establishing the basics of a Technology Institute with a strong teaching and research focus.  For the next few years, the institute has set itself the goal of growing in to a Sectoral Technology Institute with strong industrial research, but with limited technology focus areas, like energy and fuels, critical technologies, water, automotives and transport, and healthcare. In the long term, IIT Jodhpur is expected to grow towards providing holistic technology education to its students, in association with national institutes in India.

Figure 1: Targeted Growth of IIT Jodhpur

2. Industry immersion-based Blended Technical Education
IIT Jodhpur has launched its flagship Blended B.Tech. Program– a unique blend of classroom instructions at the Institute and shop floor experience in the industry. It exploits interconnections between academia and industry, by providing opportunities to understand the needs of the nation and thereby meaningfully engaging with the Indian society. Students and Faculty Members will be immersed in a leading technology industry during three successive summers. Other features of this Program include:

  1. Learning by doing,
  2. Experiential and cooperative learning,
  3. Working on live assignments under the tutelage of industry professionals, and
  4. Engaging in industry-supported projects spanning over 2½ years starting in the IVth  semester.

It will prepare Students and Faculty Members to eventually rise to the grand challenges of the Indian technology industry; the program helps build leadership skills in both of these stakeholders. This model has now been chosen for the Masters and Doctoral programs also. Already, Mahindra & Mahindra, Tata Motors, L&T and TCS have pledged their partnership in this flagship program by signing agreements with the Institute.
 
3. Professionally run Institute
During 2014, the Institute consciously chose a path of academic accountability on its journey of development by (a) systematically disinvesting the time of Faculty Members in non-academic activities, and (b) embedding performance management processes in its strategic plan. The Balanced Scorecard Method (to watch performance indicators) brings accountability in the working of Faculty and Staff Members of the Institute through this multidimensional framework. Work has begun at the policy and leadership levels to stitch concepts of Balanced Scorecard in to the day-to-day activities of employees with the institute’s long-term strategic objectives: namely (i) Teaching-Learning, (ii) Student-centricity, (iii) Technology focus, (iv) Quality-based institute development, and (v) Technology Human Resources for India.
 
4. Technology Orientation
In a silent surge towards the industry, IIT Jodhpur has chosen to engage with industry partners to embark on technology product development – an end-to-end effort on research-oriented product development, especially useful and relevant to India. This focused technology development at the Institute is expected to establish and build collaborations between IIT Jodhpur, the industry and other academic and R&D organizations in India.
 
5. Alignment with National Technology Missions
IIT Jodhpur is constructing a Technology Park to strengthen its industry interactions, on its permanent campus for harvesting technologies of national importance. This IITJ Technology Park is poised to host the Solar Energy Technology development and Defence Technologies. Discussions are underway with Government and private industries to work on other select national technology missions, like water, healthcare and automotives.
 
Today, India has to build a competitive edge over other emerging economies with its strategic research outcomes, patented technologies, surge in innovation, high productivity of human resources, reduced cost of products, and high quality products and services, to ensure economic growth. Premier institutes of technology have the onus to shoulder responsibilities in this major national crusade. And, at IIT Jodhpur, we have taken seriously this clarion call for re-casting afresh our model of technical education.

About the Authors

C. V. R. Murty
Director
Indian Institute of Technology Jodhpur

He received B.Tech. and M.Tech. degrees in Civil Engineering from IIT Madras, and has been in the IIT system since 1979 in the capacities of a Student, Technical Staff Member and a Faculty Member. He has served as a Faculty Member at five IITs (Old – Delhi, Kanpur and Madras, and New – Hyderabad and Jodhpur).

  M. L. Bapna
Advisor- Consultant (Industry-Academia Relations)
Indian Institute of Technology Jodhpur

He graduated with a B.E. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Jodhpur University, and has been with the Indian manufacturing industry for over 4 decades. He was formerly CEO of two Tata Enterprises (HV Axles and HV Transmissions Limited in Jamshedpur). Also, he led the defence vehicles production of Tata Motors, and is an Advanced Leadership Fellow at Harvard University.


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