Dear Alumnus,

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.

GIVING

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.

FACULTY INTERVIEW

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

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.

Silver Jubilee batch of 1992 inaugurat Cafe' 92 near SJMSOM

On December 18, 2021, the Director of IIT Bombay Prof. Subhasis Chaudhuri and other functionaries along with members of the Silver Jubilee batch of 1992 inaugurated Cafe’ 92 near SJMSOM. Cafe’ 92 will serve as a hangout destination for IIT Bombay community to enjoy their free time.

The Café has been set up on campus through the generous donation from the ’92 batch as part of their Legacy Project, where alumni of the batch come forward and donate to the Institute’s greatest needs.

IIT Bombay signs a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) Mr. Raj Nair, and the IITBAA (IIT Bombay Alumni Association) for the construction of a sophisticated and very capital-intensive BSL3 GMP Lab at the Department of Biosciences & Bioengineering (BSBE) at the Institute

On January 27, 2022, IIT Bombay signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with its distinguished alumnus Mr. Raj Nair, (B.Tech., Metallurgical and Material Science Engineering, 1971) and the IITBAA (IIT Bombay Alumni Association) for the construction of a sophisticated and very capital-intensive BSL3 GMP Lab at the Department of Biosciences & Bioengineering (BSBE) at the Institute. The proposed facility located at BSBE Department is expected to facilitate the progression of breakthrough translational research from the laboratory stage to the market by manufacturing materials required for human clinical trials.

The BSL3 GMP lab is being funded by Mr. Nair and its implementation is being program-managed by Mr. Nair and a fellow alumnus Mr Ajit Jawle. This facility will be used by the researchers in BSBE and other Departments on campus to manufacture nanomaterials, tissue-engineered grafts, CAR-T constructs, drug nanoparticles, etc. for conducting clinical trials. Several faculty members specialise in these areas and the GMP lab can help shorten the time it takes to get their life-saving solutions to the market. Mr. Nair’s vision for this initiative is that India and IIT Bombay become a place where the output of research will result in bold and impactful solutions for the masses that facilitate a 10X improvement – better, cheaper, or faster – than the existing solutions anywhere in the world so that thousands of patients suffering from difficult-to-treat diseases will benefit.

The MoU was signed by IIT Bombay’s Director Prof. Subhasis Chaudhuri, the donor Mr. Raj Nair and IITBAA’s CEO Ms. Latha Venkitachalam. Dean (IPS) Prof. Tom Mathew also attended the ceremony.

IIT Bombay announces the establishment of a Chair Professorship which will support education and research in Quantitative Finance, an interdisciplinary field at the intersection of finance

IIT Bombay announces the establishment of a Chair Professorship which will support education and research in Quantitative Finance, an interdisciplinary field at the intersection of finance, statistics and technology. This Chair Professorship has been set up courtesy the generous donation made by Mr. Ram Kelkar via the IIT Bombay Heritage Foundation. The Chair will be titled “The Kelkar Family Chair in Quantitative Finance.”

The vision of the Chair includes imbibing the fundamentals of Quantitative Finance within the bright minds of students at IIT Bombay, inviting faculty experts and researchers in the domain of Quantitative Finance from across the globe, developing and evolving the Institute as one of the Centres of Excellence in the world, and being a pioneer in the area of Quantitative Finance, Financial Engineering and Risk Management using Financial Derivatives.

 

Mr. Deepak M. Satwalekar committs a generous amount as his contribution towards setting up a Design and Making Lab at the Institute

IIT Bombay’s distinguished alumnus Mr. Deepak M. Satwalekar (B.Tech – Hons, Mechanical Engineering, 1971) has committed a generous amount as his contribution towards setting up a Design and Making Lab at the Institute. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed regarding the same on March 10, 2022 between IIT Bombay and Mr. Satwalekar. The Lab will be named “Deepak and Maya Satwalekar Lab (Design and Making)” to honour Mr. Satwalekar’s philanthropic donation, and will be located on the first floor of the Pre-Engineered Transit Building on campus.

The purpose of this initiative is to facilitate new ways of learning for first-year engineering students at the Institute. The Lab will be a part of the maker space facility at the Institute aimed at replacing the conventional drawing and workshop courses with a product design and development course involving thematic labs and micro factories. The lab will provide the latest digital and mechanical equipment that will extend the much needed ‘hands-on’ learning component to the academic programs.

Students will gain access to top-of-the-class equipment for mechanical and electronic work including 3D printers, laser cutters, latest workstations with CAD (Computer-aided Design software), and a complete electronics setup.

Raj Subramaniam appointed as the CEO of FedEx

Raj Subramaniam (B.Tech, Chemical Engineering, 1987) has been appointed as the CEO of FedEx, where he will be responsible for providing strategic direction to all of FedEx’s operating companies.

Mr. Rajesh joined FedEx in 1991 and became a member of the FedEx Board of Directors in 2020. Prior to being appointed as CEO of the global delivery giant, Mr. Rajesh served as the President and COO of the company. After graduating from IIT Bombay, Mr. Rajesh got his MS in Chemical Engineering from Syracuse University and an MBA from the University of Texas, Austin.

He is the recipient of several prestigious awards including the Distinguished Alumnus Award from IIT Bombay, the President’s Award from the Prime Minister of Canada, the Excel Award from the International Association of Business Communications and the FedEx Five Star Award.

Alok Maskara appointed as CEO of Lennox International Inc., a global leader in energy-efficient climate-control solutions

Alok Maskara (B.Tech., Chemical Engineering, 1992) has been appointed as CEO of Lennox International Inc., a global leader in energy-efficient climate-control solutions. His responsibilities as CEO will include driving the long-term growth and profitability of the company, as well as advancing the company’s overall position within the industry.

After completing his education at IIT Bombay, Mr. Maskara pursued his M.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of New Mexico and an MBA from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.

Ashank Desai, Principal Founder and former Chairman of Mastek and co-founder of NASSCOM, selected for the 'Lifetime Achievement Award' for his outstanding leadership in the information technology space

Distinguished Alumnus Ashank Desai (M. Tech, Mechanical Engineering, 1974), Principal Founder and former Chairman of Mastek and co-founder of NASSCOM, has been selected for the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ for his outstanding leadership in the information technology space. Mr. Desai was honoured at the Dataquest Digital Leadership Conclave on June 08, 2022 in Delhi.

Mr. Desai is an Information Technology entrepreneur, with rich and diverse experiences in the IT industry spanning over four decades. For his contributions to NASSCOM and the overall IT industry, Mr. Desai was felicitated by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in 2015.

Mr. Desai is a valuable stakeholder of IIT Bombay and has contributed significantly to his alma mater’s continued growth and success. He has served as the Vice Chairman at the Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SINE) at the Institute. Additionally, Mr. Desai has funded the Centre for Policy Studies at IIT Bombay, which is now known as the “Ashank Desai Centre for Policy Studies” and aims to provide a fillip to the study of Public Policy in India.