Careers360 presents here Interview with Prof. Pradipta Banerji, who is serving as Director of IIT Roorkee. He graduated with a B.Tech degree in civil engineering from IIT Delhi in 1981 and completed his MS and PhD degrees in Structural Engineering from University of California, Berkeley, USA. In the interview, the professor talks about financial challenges faced by the existing IITs as well as problems occurring for the new IITs in their establishment.
An alumnus of IIT Delhi, he shares that he was a backbencher during his college days and made his teachers’ life miserable. He also talks about his love for the students and faculty members. He says, “If I don’t love what I am doing, I don’t do it”. He shares that the Entrepreneurship Development Cell at IIT Roorkee is totally a student led initiative and reveals that ‘CommonFloor.com’, which has now become a very popular name among real estate web portals, actually was incubated at IIT Roorkee.
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Prof. Pradipta also expresses his joy and enthusiasm for Cognizance, which is the annual tech-fest of IIT Roorkee. Expressing his high hopes for future, professor Banerji says, “Ten years down the road, India will become one of the major players in the high speed technology.”
Read complete interview of Prof. Pradipta Banerji, Director, IIT Roorkee here.
Careers360: A total of five new IITs have been announced in 2014 and one more in 2015. Also, government has proposed upgradation of existing ISM, Dhanbad into a full-fledged IIT? What is your take on it?
Prof. Pradipta Banerji: Setting up a new IIT is a very challenging task. These new entrants will take a lot of time to get developed and established. We should not be in a hurry, as academic institutions take time to gain acceptance and create reputation in society. One of the major challenges they face is of getting finance from government. Funding for technical education has to go up. Government must finance engineering colleges adequately. Another problem for these new IITs is of good faculty, which is hard to find.
IITs admit only ten thousand students every year, but the number of aspirants is over 13 lakh. Out of these, 1-1.5 lakh students are brilliant. This is extremely unfair to them. They should get the best education that our country can offer. I think that we should have 22 IITs 20 years ago. By today, there should be 32 IITs.
Moreover, ISM Dhanbad has been a school of mining. Its focus is on mining, not on chemical, electrical or any other engineering. This institute will take a lot of time to get established as an IIT.
Careers360: What are the challenges that IIT Roorkee is facing in getting funds for research and other programmes?
Prof. Pradipta Banerji: Our institution is facing problems related to finance. We are not getting proper funds for research purposes. The ministry should fund our IIT sufficiently. Two years ago, we received grant of Rs.190 crores. This year, the grant will be cut downas the overall funding has been reduced. Now, the new IITs also have to be allotted money. We know that government tries to help the IITs within its constraints. But still it needs to do a lot in this direction.
Careers360: How infrastructure of IIT Roorkee has developed over the years? What distinguishes IIT Roorkee from other IITs?
Prof. Pradipta Banerji: IIT Roorkee is considered equal to five older IITs in terms of excellence. IIT Roorkee has fantastic facilities, which are better than some of the best engineering colleges in India. We are slowly developing the best laboratories, which are the best in world.We have a 500 MHz NMR machine and we are trying to upgrade it to 800 MHz. We will be the second institution in the world to have that.We are the first institution in India to start master’s program in technology. Also, it is the first institution to initiate electrical and mechanical engineering.
Moreover, I have written a letter to the chairman of space commission and asked that if we can open an ISRO technology cell at IIT Roorkee. We are hoping for a positive response. With 8200 students, 480 faculty members and state-of-the-art facilities, IIT Roorkee is a comprehensive technological institution.
Careers360: Tell us something about the collaborations and various tie-ups of IIT Roorkee.
Prof. Pradipta Banerji: Collaboration mantra is very important because we can’t solve all the problems on our own. We have limitedliberties. So, we are open to the idea of collaborations and tie-ups. I can tell you about some of them. We have association with ‘Jubilant’ for developing cancer drugs. IIT Roorkee is working on pharmaceutical products that are produced from natural products.One of our alumni is working in biotechnological department for bringing anti-cancer drugs that will be made from bark of a specific tree. Jubilant will fund us, and together we will get funds from other sources. We are also engaged with ‘National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC)’ for fast construction projects.
Careers360: ONGC has signed MoC with Pan-IIT, a consortium of seven premier IITs for bolstering 'Make in India' campaign in energy sector. IIT Roorkee is one of them. Kindly explain what is the contribution of your IIT in developing indigenous technology?
Prof. Pradipta Banerji: ‘Make in India’ right now is a thought. It is a vision. We are a part of the discussions on how it is going to happen. It will require a lot of human resources. IIT Roorkee is working in seven thematic areas and on a total of 37 project proposals. Currently, we are engaged in following-
Geological &Geophysical Studies
Reservoir Characterization, Modeling & Simulation
Oil & Gas Production &Recovery Enhancement
Unconventional Energy Resources
Engineering Solutions/Tools & Technology Development
Alternate Energy Researches
Careers360:‘Cognizance’ is Asia’s largest Technical Fest that is popular all over the India. How many participants and events were there? Was there anything new this year?
Prof. Pradipta Banerji: Cognizance is one of the largest of its kind anywhere in the world and second largest in India. It attracts large participation, both nationally and internationally. This year, participants were from Ukraine, Russia, South Africa and Switzerland, apart from India. It witnessed participation in excess of 3000 pouring in from over 1500 technical and management colleges from across the country in addition to the 10000 students of our institute itself.
We reinvent ourselves at Cognizance each year considering a theme that is topical. This year's theme was ‘Photonizing I’ for celebrating the International year of light and light based technologies. The total budget was of Rs.1.5 cores for the first time, and moreover, the price money was also increased by 35% this year.
Careers360: Are there any new programmes that will be started at IIT Roorkee?
Prof. Pradipta Banerji: From academic year 2016-17, we will start B.tech programme in Polymer Science and Engineering. In this, we will be teaching students how to make polymers that are sustainable. Engineering in Physics is another program where the whole idea is to use Physics and engineering together to solve problems.We are starting a programme on Aeronautical Engineering also as government is looking at the aircraft industry becoming a big ‘Make in India’. Also, we want to start M.Tech program in Railway Engineering.The whole idea is to train our students for future.
IIT Roorkee Annual Technical Festival “Cognizance 2015”
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