It is a great pleasure and honour for me to deliver the convocation address of this young Institute which has just turned 8. In the endless journey of an academic institution, this is a proud moment for IIIT-Delhi – the fifth convocation.
In this convocation, we are proud to confer 2 Ph.D., 163 B.Tech, and 82 M.Tech degrees, including 3 dual degrees. With this, we have graduated altogether around 800 students. Given the high average compensation that are students receive, I estimate that our graduates will contribute over Rs 100 crores this year to the GDP, and contribute about Rs 20 crores as income tax.
With this year’s admission, IIIT-Delhi student population has grown to 1146 students, including 781 BTech, 230 MTech, and 126 PhD students. The backbone of IIIT-Delhi is its faculty; current strength is steady at around 50, including about 10 visiting faculty. To expand course offerings to our students, we started allowing limited number of credits to be earned through approved online courses. All put together – rigorous courses taught by high quality faculty, modern and flexible curriculum, good infrastructure, and various innovations in education – IIIT-Delhi truly provides its students a world class education. This year, we also received NBA accreditation for the B.Tech (CSE) program. We already have the UGC 12B and NAAC ‘A’ Level accreditation.
This year, we also introduced a 3rd UG program after CSE and ECE, “B.Tech. in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics (CSAM)”. The program aims to produce graduates with computational skills as well as the ability to use sophisticated mathematical concepts and tools in order to approach complex problems.
As with any university that aspires for global respect and standing, contributions to research are critical. Last year, our faculty and students published over 150 research papers, including 24 journal papers, 123 conference papers, 10 workshop papers, and 7 book/book chapters. Our faculty was invited to more than 100 national and international seminars as speaker. Like previous years, this year also our faculty received several awards including best paper awards in conferences, NVIDIA Innovation Award, and the Visvesvaraya Young Faculty Fellowship. This year, 16 research proposals from our faculty were approved by various agencies for a total funding of around Rs. 4 crores. Our PhD students also continue to excel and have received several prestigious fellowships last year, including 1 TCS PhD Fellowship, 14 Visvesvaraya PhD Fellowships, and 1 IBM Fellowship.
In the world today, collaboration is key to success in research and innovation. Our faculty members were involved in collaborations with over 60 collaborators across the world. Of these, 15 are with industry, 35 with universities and faculty from other universities, and 12 are with research labs.
In our R&D efforts, we remain committed to entrepreneurial advancements and developing technologies that can be transferred for commercial implementation or use by other organizations. This year, 10 new technologies and tools were developed which were transferred to various organizations. The Institute also received funding of Rs 1.5 Crores from Delhi Government to promote entrepreneurship.
Our alumni, as is expected, are succeeding in various spheres – besides working for corporations where many are moving up rapidly, some are running their own companies or start-ups, some are contributing in research labs, and many are pursuing higher education in reputed institutions across the globe.
With respect to placements, this year again we kept up with our previous years’ strong performance with placement in top companies such as Microsoft, Xerox Research, Amazon, Adobe, and EMC. By most measures for placement – highest domestic salary offered, the percentage of students placed, mean and median offers – we are amongst the top few in the country.
Due to our rapid growth, the current campus is fully utilized with limited scope to grow further. For further growth in student and faculty strength as well as bolstering our infrastructure, construction for the phase-II of the campus is ongoing and we expect building delivery to start from summer of 2017. This phase will add another 70,000 sq. meters of space, approximately two times the current area, increasing our capacity to 3X.
When we started the Institute in 2008, we had clearly articulated to all stakeholders that in the first few years we will focus squarely on achieving academic excellence. I must say that we have clearly achieved a level which is widely respected in academic circles, much earlier than I had imagined. In recognition of that we started actively encouraging other activities on the campus. Students responded to it passionately and we now have vibrant student activities, with more than 15 student clubs under the Student Council.
Let me end the official report for the year by highlighting three main milestones we achieved last year. First, crossing a landmark figure of 100 PhD students – a remarkable feat for any academic institution to achieve within seven years of starting the PhD program.
Second, receiving a grant of over Rs 24 crore by Infosys/Foundation for the establishment of Infosys Center for Artificial Intelligence (CAI), which was inaugurated by Mr. Pravin Rao, Chief Operating Officer of Infosys in April. This is one of the largest industry-supported research centers in an academic institution in the country, and shows clearly that corporations also want to see development of top class research-led institutions in the country and are willing to provide support.
Third, a commitment from Delhi Government for supporting research by providing a matching grant to the Institute for all funds we receive for research from agencies and corporations. All great universities across the world focus on both research and education. While education can be made self-supporting, research is expensive and needs Government support. I am happy to inform that Hon’ble Dy CM of Delhi, who is also the Education Minister, has agreed to champion this innovative model for supporting research in a state university. Once fully implemented, the Institute should be able to become self-sustaining for research as well.
I have no doubt that given the commitment of faculty, staff, and students, and the support we get from the Board of Governors and the Government, IIIT-Delhi will continue on the path of improving our research and education, leading to more successes and contributions to the society by our students and faculty.