Preparing IT Experts For 21st Century
Originating in the milieu of Y2K bug of the 1990s, the Bengaluru-based IIIT plays critical role in finding solutions to present-day industry and societal problems
At the turn of the 20th century, as the world braced itself for the Y2K problem and IT and non-IT companies recruited IT experts in large numbers in anticipation of the crisis, the Government of India and state government of Karnataka visualised that the relevance of IT will be far wider in the 21st century - be it in finance, health, entertainment, health, or in governance. A need was felt to create trained manpower of world-class level. The International Institute of Informational Technology was inaugurated in 1998, with this vision.
Now close to 25 years of operations and accredited A+ by NAAC, the institute fulfils that expectation in every sense of the term. IIIT-Bangalore Director Debabrata Das describes how the curriculum has been designed to that effect. “The curriculum has been designed so that students have clear fundamentals and the concepts are strong. Once the concepts are strong, the students can do a good job in any industry, and bring about a positive change in any area.”
The IIIT offers MTech computer science and engineering, MTech electronics and communication engineering, and MSc in digital society. In the first two streams, integrated MTech are also offered. For continuing professional education, the institute also offers executive programmes, certificates and advanced certificates. A master of science by research, besides PhD, completes the bouquet of courses.
In computer science and engineering, the thrust areas are security, machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), data science and software engineering. The last area has gained immense significance in development of products. Director Das describes how products now entail complex software development, and reiterates that India should lead in their design. In electronics and communication, students are being trained in 5G, 6G and VLSI.
The curriculum is updated every year in the case of elective subjects, and every three years in the case of core subjects, to incorporate the latest in technology and to give to the industry students equipped with this know-how. For this, a regular coming together of industry-academia is ensured. In fact, the internal faculty is
matched by industry experts in imparting training. This helps combine very good understanding of academia and industry. This understanding helps, as about 96 per cent students join industry and need good grounding in engineering subjects, logic and analytical thinking.
The institute fosters startups too, with IIIT-Bangalore Innovation Centre and IMACX playing crucial role in this regard. The Innovation Centre brings on a common platform industry, academia, government agencies and innovators to come up with socially-relevant innovations and to develop startups.
IMACX too strives to create entrepreneurial ecosystem, nurtures innovators and aspiring entrepreneurs and enables students to come up with viable and impactful ventures. The centre handholds students through various stages of building of a venture, from ideation to assessing the feasibility, development of prototype, showcasing to potential investors, and fund raising and hiring.
Funding to support many of these startups comes from the Government of India and MNCs. Several socially impactful startups have taken shape at the institute. For example, developing a robot to help patients walk and enabling visually impaired people read engineering and science literature too.
Facilitating this startup push is the rigorous research and innovation ethos, often in interdisciplinary mode. The buzzword is translatable research, that should lead to development of a product or system and that has an impact on the society. To this end, it has the following dedicated centres:
• The e-health research center (EHRC) for applied research in the use of ICT to meet the healthcare needs of the poor and marginal sections of the society and to impact health-related policies and capacity-building. Some of the work done at the institute is: automated bed-management for NIMHANS; devices to aid in physical rehabilitation; and automated medical transcription.
• The machine intelligence and robotics center, is working in the area of multidisciplinary research and development activities in important research areas related to machine intelligence, artificial intelligent systems, data analysis, data science, pattern recognition, human-machine interface and industrial products of robotics and automation. The impact of research in this area would be felt in governance, manufacturing, transportation, assisted living, communications, eLearning, finance, web services and many other areas.
• Cognitive computing centre of excellence, in collaboration with Mphasis, is for applied research, for industrial and societal benefit. It aims to create intellectual
assets through research papers, organise conferences and workshops, conduct trainings, and act as a think tank to startups government bodies and industry.
• Centre for accessibility in the global South, addressing disability and access issues.
The other important centres fostering research are comet tech innovation hub and modular open source identity platform.
Enabling this range of activities is the high-speed network and the wifi connectivity throughout the campus. Every student is equipped with a laptop, enabling a flexible learning environment.
The institute enjoys geographical advantage too, being situated in Bengaluru. The city is not just an IT hub, it also hosts Indian Institute of Science (IISc), National Law School of India University (NLSIU) and Indian Institute of Management (IIM), among others, and is a confluence of academia. It is also home to several R&D labs of GOI and MNCs. This critical mass helps in exchange of ideas and solutions.
Considering the role of IT experts in all sectors, the recruiters coming to IIIT-Bangalore campus also represent a range of sectors. From IT majors Infosys, IBM, Microsoft, Wipro and Accenture to home delivery companies Amazon and Flipkart to banks (HSBC), to payment gateways (PayTm), they all have recruited from IIIT-Bangalore. American Express, Morgan Stanley, Intel, Tech Mahindra, ANZ and Samsung are among the other large number of recruiting companies that see value in IIIT-Bangalore passouts.
For the 2022 batch, the placements have been 100 percent, and the batch of 2023 too is almost booked, the director informs.
But students don’t pass out with the degree alone. They have experienced a thriving campus life, rich with a number of clubs, events and activities. They would have had a byte of dance, music, debate, movies, theatre, literature, photography or social work too, while at the campus.
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