Warm greetings from IIT Bombay.
“The best way to predict your future is to create it.”
– Abraham Lincoln
And I have no doubt that our graduating students will create a wonderful and challenging future for themselves. August 2022 brought with it the annual 60th convocation ceremony which was held on August 20, 2022. Mr. Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman, Aditya Birla Group, was the chief guest and delivered the convocation address. During the main convocation session, a total of 2551 degrees were awarded to 2324 students. I am also pleased to announce that we achieved a major milestone as an Institute when we awarded a total of 449 Ph.D. degrees this year (the first time that any Indian academic institute has produced more than 400 Ph.D. graduates in a year). I wish all the graduates the very best and a wonderful and successful future.
INTRODUCING A NEW SEGMENT: GIVING This Issue’s Theme: Scholarships
IIT Bombay is committed to providing the best and most holistic education to all its students. But, often, financial constraints hold back highly accomplished and meritorious students from pursuing higher education. This is why we need our alumni to rally around their alma mater and support us in providing student scholarships to every deserving student so that none of them get left behind.
In this new section titled ‘Giving,’ each month we will highlight one key initiative undertaken by the Institute, as well as profile an alumni member who has backed their alma mater in this worthy cause.
To kick off our section on ‘Giving – Student Scholarships’ the newsletter is honoured to profile Mr. Sanjeev Nabar – a grateful alumni member who benefited immensely from receiving a scholarship when he was a student at IIT Bombay and decided to pay it forward by setting up a scholarship fund for deserving students like him at his alma mater.
Read on to know more about Mr. Sanjeev Nabar’s journey and the Jaywant M. Nabar Diamond Scholarship.
If you would like to donate to student scholarships at IIT Bombay, please click on the button below.
Professor Preeti Rao: Modesty Personified
Professor Preeti Rao is a member of the Department of Electrical Engineering, IIT Bombay. Her expertise lies in the field of computer audition, and she has been involved with research and technology development for speech and music applications including supporting a product through incubation at SINE.
We are delighted to speak with Prof. Rao for the Dean ACR Newsletter.
news from iit bombay
ALANKAR : THE GLOBAL LEADERSHIP SUMMIT of SJMSOM with Shri. NITIN GADKARI (HON’BLE UNION MINISTER ).
About the Donor:
The charitable trusts promoted by The Bajaj Group have helped create four Chair Professorships in various departments at IIT Bombay. The Rahul Bajaj Chair Professorship in Mechanical Engineering is one of the chairs and its core vision is to enhance industry collaboration, initiate new academic programs, and provide technical leadership in the areas of Mechanical Engineering.
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Students from IIT Bombay are well known for their entrepreneurial spirit and leaving behind a tangible impact on the world around them. Tejasvi Chauhan, a PhD student from IIT Bombay’s Department of Civil Engineering, ushered in cellular service to one of the most remote villages in Himachal Pradesh, and in the process, left his indelible mark on the mountains. Let’s get to know him better.
Hello, Tejasvi – before we talk about your project, can you quickly tell us about your academic background at IIT Bombay? What degree are you pursuing?
Tejasvi: I am pursuing a PhD from the Department of Civil Engineering, IIT Bombay, with the support of the Prime Minister’s Research Fellowship (PMRF). In 2017, I joined this university as a master’s student and later changed to a dual degree (MTech + PhD).
Many congratulations on your project (something so timely and essential) which is implementing cellular connectivity in the remote mountain village of Baag in Himachal Pradesh. What compelled you to bring connectivity to Baag?
Tejasvi: Like everyone else, I moved back to my village during the pandemic. During that uncertain period in my life, I found myself wanting to do something productive with my free time. I decided to teach some children in my home town but I soon realized that despite living in a small village the teaching had to be done remotely. It was only then I realized the challenges of living in a rural area in India. There is a clear digital divide in our country and I experienced it first-hand when I could teach only a handful of students at a time. And even that was possible only once or twice a week. The digital divide not just affected the education sector in rural areas but healthcare services were equally affected in these remote locations. All this made me understand that inaccessibility to digital connections can impact lives at a grassroot level.
The road to success is not easy to navigate and we’re sure you faced many difficulties while pursuing your project. Can you elaborate on some of the challenges you faced during this period, and how you overcame them?
Tejasvi: Honestly, I was very naive when faced with lack of digital connectivity in my village and acted like any other local citizen. Initially, I ran around like a headless chicken and looked for answers everywhere. I met our local MLA who had no solution for our problem. I then tweeted about our challenges to several network providers such as BSNL, Airtel and Reliance Jio but that turned out to be a futile exercise as well. I even thought of purchasing network repeaters but soon realized that it’s illegal to use these devices (if not provided by the network provider) and they’re also very expensive.
Later, I came across a few research papers by Prof. Rajkumar Pant from the Department of Aerospace Engineering at IIT Bombay which explained the concept of remote communication during disaster management. I immediately contacted him and Prof. Pant was very helpful. He also introduced me to an IITB alumnus, Sagar Sharma (B. Tech, EE, 2016), who currently works with the Indian Semiconductor Mission. Sagar guided me during those difficult times and recommended that I address the issue directly with the Minister of Telecommunications. I then drafted a letter that was signed by our local Panchayat Pradhan (elected representative of gram panchayat), the Member of the local Legislative Assembly, and the Member of Parliament (MP) which we sent to the Minister of Telecommunications. Within a few months, a government of India officer from the telecom ministry visited our village and assessed the situation. He suggested that we apply for the Universal Service Obligation Fund provided by the Government of India which is used for these types of challenges faced by rural areas across the country.
How did you plan the entire project? Considering these are pandemic times with many restrictions, were you able to implement your project in its entirety within the proposed timeline?
Tejasvi: Although I did not plan a specific timeline, the aim was to finish the project as soon as possible. I initiated the project during the first wave of COVID-19, specifically in July 2020, and the telecom tower commenced transmitting signals in our village on January 1, 2022. Most of the challenges we faced occurred during the initial phase. After the official visit from the ministry, we had to wait patiently for construction workers to build the tower. As our town encountered logistical issues, geographical challenges, and extreme weather conditions, it took a long time to build the tower when compared to other towns.
How did IIT Bombay’s ecosystem support your project?
Tejasvi: IIT Bombay’s ecosystem showed me the importance of networking and gave me the courage to reach out to people I would never have imagined doing so. Honestly, I would’ve never thought of writing to the Hon’ble Minister of Telecommunications if not for Prof. Rajkumar Pant and Sagar’s guidance and encouragement. They constantly motivated me and made sure I did not lose hope. Throughout this project, IIT Bombay made me realize the importance of never giving up.
It takes a village to raise a child, and these types of critical projects also need enormous aid and support. What (if any) kind of assistance did you receive from the local government and the residents of Baag?
Tejasvi: The residents did offer to help but because of logistical reasons I only interacted with local leaders while drafting the letter and, luckily, that proved to be enough.
What was your family’s reaction to your project?
Tejasvi: Everyone is really thrilled. Also, my family helped me a lot in executing the project. My father accompanied me to all of my meetings with politicians to get the letter signed. I would say it is a collective achievement for our entire family. My grandparents experienced their first-ever video call from their home in January 2022 and it’s a moment I will always cherish.
You chose a project that has tangibly impacted society. What would you say to your peers as they look to make a difference to the world around them?
Tejasvi: The IIT Bombay ecosystem empowers its students to solve many problems facing us. We can definitely transform our country if each of us solves at least one key issue faced by rural India.
What’s next for you, Tejasvi? What are your hopes, aspirations and plans for the future?
Tejasvi: In the near future, I hope to join one of the IITs as an Assistant Professor, where I can help resolve issues and cultivate multiple problem-solvers for our country.
We’d like to thank Tejasvi Chauhan for sharing his ingenuous journey with us. Tejasvi is a true inspiration to all students – both at IIT Bombay and elsewhere. He is proof that no matter the odds – a strong work ethic and can-do attitude can yield life-changing outcomes. We hope that his journey will inspire other young students to never give up and doggedly pursue the path of excellence.
Research Impact: IIT Bombay Students Co-Author Important Paper on Artificial Intelligence in Medical Diagnosis
M.Tech students from IIT Bombay – Abhiraj Kanse, Nikhil C. Kurian, Himanshu P. Aswani, and IITB’s Ph.D. student Amit Sethi (along with Zakia Khan, Peter H. Gann, and Swapnil Rane) are co-authors of a paper titled, ‘Cautious Artificial Intelligence Improves Outcomes and Trust by Flagging Outlier Cases’ which was published in the prestigious journal, JCO Clinical Cancer Informatics, An American Society of Clinical Oncology Journal.
The purpose of the paper is, “Artificial intelligence (AI) models for medical image diagnosis are often trained and validated on curated data. However, in a clinical setting, images that are outliers with respect to the training data, such as those representing rare disease conditions or acquired using a slightly different setup, can lead to wrong decisions. It is not practical to expect clinicians to be trained to discount results for such outlier images. Toward clinical deployment, we have designed a method to train cautious AI that can automatically flag outlier cases.”
IIT Staff Member, Mr. Dattaram Gaikar, wins Madhav Patwardhan (Julian) Memorable award
Mr. Dattaram Gaikar (retired staff in MEMS, IIT Bombay) received the (late) Madhav Patwardhan (Julian) Memorable award for bibliographic work in the Marathi language on October 29, 2022. The award includes Rs. 10,000 and a certificate. The Chief Guest for this function was noted scientist Dr. Anil Kakodkar (ex-Chairman BoG, IIT Bombay).
Legendary IITB Professor S.P. Sukhatme to Support Annual Scholarships for Children of IITB’s non-Academic Staff
IIT Bombay’s former Director and Professor Emeritus of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Prof. S.P Sukhatme, will support annual scholarships for meritorious children of employees of IITB’s non-academic staff. And to that end, IIT Bombay signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with him on Oct 11, 2022. Through this initiative, annual student scholarships for meritorious children of employees of the Institute’s non-academic staff including regular, temporary (on consolidated pay), and CHMS (mess workers amongst others who are pursuing their higher studies in India) will be established. The scholarships will be named after Prof. Sukhatme to honour his philanthropic contribution.
One of IIT Bombay’s key missions is to provide an equitable launchpad for success to students hailing from economically strapped backgrounds. Granting students with scholarships forms an integral part of the Institute’s endeavour of providing equal opportunities to these young and bright minds who have the potential to change the world. These annual student scholarships will add to Prof. Sukhatme’s legacy of giving back to IIT Bombay, which includes the setting up of the Chair Professorship in Biostatistics at the Institute.
Prof. Sukhatme’s leadership and mentorship of students, faculty, and alumni continue even after his tenure at the Institute. His considerate gesture has touched the hearts of the IIT Bombay community, who still look up to him as a father figure.
IIT Bombay to establish the Dr. Rinti Banerjee Visiting Chair Professorship
IIT Bombay signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish the ‘Dr. Rinti Banerjee Visiting Chair’ on Tuesday, October 11, 2022, with Dr. Bhagwati Prasad (husband of the late Dr. Rinti Banerjee; also IITB alumnus, Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering, 2000); Rekha Koita, (Distinguished Service Awardee, B.Tech., Metallurgical Engineering, 1992, IITB, Co-Founder, Koita Foundation); and IIT Bombay Heritage Foundation, for a first-of-its-kind initiative that will bring leading women medical researchers, academicians, industrialists, practitioners, and entrepreneurs from various corners of the world to IIT Bombay.
The MoU will establish a Visiting Chair Professorship, called the ‘Dr. Rinti Banerjee Visiting Chair’ in memory of the late Professor Dr. Rinti Banerjee, who was a doctor herself. She was an eminent researcher, professor, and former head of the Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering at IIT Bombay. She was also an alumna of IIT Bombay (Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering, 2000). The initiative will continue Dr. Rinti Banerjee’s legacy. The late Dr. Banerjee was one of the rare faculty members at IIT Bombay with an MBBS degree and made exemplary contributions to translational research in the healthcare sector in India.
Women with MBBS degrees and an outstanding record in healthcare will be appointed to the chair to provide leadership in multidisciplinary translational work at IIT Bombay and to enhance multidisciplinary teamwork with the aim of lowering costs and making healthcare more accessible to Indian citizens.
IIT Bombay Alumnus, Mr. Raj Subramaniam, Elected to the P&G Board of Directors
IIT Bombay’s distinguished alumnus, Mr. Raj Subramaniam (B.Tech, Chemical Engineering, 1987), and the current CEO of FedEx has now been elected to the prestigious Procter and Gamble’s Board of Directors.
Mr. Subramaniam, a native of Trivandrum, Kerala, did his schooling at Loyola School in Thiruvananthapuram. After completing his B- Tech from IIT Bombay, he moved to the US and got his MS in Chemical Engineering from Syracuse University in 1989. He later pursued his MBA in Marketing/Finance from the University of Texas at Austin.
IIT Bombay Inaugurates the Class of 1980 Design and Making Lab
IIT Bombay inaugurated the ‘Class of 1980 Design and Making Lab’ on Nov 03, 2022, set up through the generous contribution of the Class of 1980. Mr. Vinay Somani, batch leader of the Class of 1980, addressed the gathering and said that the impetus behind the setting up of the lab was the Class of 1980’s determination to “give back meaningfully” to their alma mater. Mr. Somani also expressed his happiness at the rapid progress that IIT Bombay has made over the years since his batch’s time on campus.
Comprising the latest digital and mechanical equipment (laser cutters, 3D printers etc.), the Lab will be accessible to the Institute’s first-year students. The young minds of IIT Bombay will have the opportunity to learn modern designing and manufacturing practices through a multidisciplinary course, at the very beginning of their academic journeys.
This Lab forms an essential part of the Institute’s larger Makerspace initiative that envisions providing a comprehensive education to students through exposure to state-of-the-art thematic labs. Members of the Makerspace committee, Prof. Varun Bhalerao, Associate Professor, Department of Physics, and Prof. Darshan Shah, Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, gave a brief overview of the Lab and the instrumental role it will play in revolutionising learning practices for students.
The Makerspace program is an important step that aligns with the substantially revised curriculum that was recently recommended by the committee under the Chairmanship of Prof. Kishore Chatterjee, Department of Electrical Engineering. Significant components of this revamp were also adapted from the recommendations made under the updated National Education Policy, which emphasised hands-on experimental-based learning.
The ‘Class of 1980 Design and Making Lab’ will also serve as an example for other institutes across the country to follow and be aligned with the tenets of the National Education Policy.
Groundbreaking Ceremony for New Building for the Desai Sethi School of Entrepreneurship (DSSE) held on campus
Shri. Nitin Gadkari, Hon’ble Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Government of India, graced Alankar, the Shailesh J. Mehta School of Management’s Global Leadership Summit at IIT Bombay. He interacted with the students and faculty and urged them to address societal issues in their research projects.
During his visit to IIT Bombay, Shri Gadkari also visited the R&D stalls on campus and interacted with faculty and students at the Institute. The stalls exhibited projects on Indigenous & Reliable Motors & Power Electronics; Manufacturing, Ergonomics and Stability; Battery Technology: Safety & Sustainability; Transportation planning and Grid Integration; Green Hydrogen and Devices & Electronics.