IITs now have to focus on R&D which can impact society: Desai

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Hyderabad, Aug 23: Having carved a niche for itself through its academic excellence, the Indian Institutes of Technology should now focus on Research and Development that impacts society, similar to what institutions such as MIT in the US is doing, says IIT Hyderabad Director Prof U B Desai. "Now we (IITs) have to make our name in R&D," he said in an interview to PTI.

The world today recognises and people talk about institutions such as the MIT, Stanford and Berkeley because of their technological contributions which have impacted society, and not because of their academic programmes, he said.

'IITs now have to focus on R&D'

"The thrust in the IITs should be technological innovations and scientific research which can impact society. We have become very good at education. We have done a great job. (Now) that (focus on R&D) has to be the primary goal," Desai said.

To achieve that goal, some innovation in academics would be required, he said, adding different universities in the US are doing so realising "pedagogy and paradigm that was there 40-50 years ago needs an overhaul because of aspirations of the youth entering these institutions and universities". "They (students) are coming with lot of technology at their fingertips.

They have grown up with all kinds of technology gadgets, not just laptops and tablets. When these kids enter (institutes like MIT and IITs), they come with different aspirations.

"We need to innovate pedagogy to make sure that the students' aspirations and the challenges that they want to tackle are made available to him," Desai said.

Six more IITs becoming operational would not "dilute" the brand of IITs, he said. Pointing to the demand, Desai said about 14 lakh students try to get into engineering graduation in India each year, with an overwhelming section dreaming to join IITs which have only around 10,000 seats.

Noting that old IITs took 20 to 25 years to get major recognition mainly through their alumni, he said the new ones need a similar time-frame to earn a name. He emphasised that the new IITs should benchmark themselves against the old ones and focus relentlessly on quality.

PTI 

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