IIT-Bombay’s standing committee is exploring the possibility of adopting the “liberal education” system — a multi-disciplinary approach focused on bringing more diversity to programmes — and applying it to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) courses in a bid to draw more female students, the institute’s newly-appointed director Subhasis Chaudhari said on Thursday.
Chaudhari took over as the director last week, succeeding Devang Khakhar, who served in the post for two consecutive terms. He has been a professor and artificial intelligence researcher in IIT-B’s department of electrical engineering for the past 29 years. An alumnus of IIT-Kharagpur, Chaudhari had earlier held several administrative positions in IIT-Bombay.
The new director said that while gender ratio remains a concern, the institute’s staff are trying to tackle it through new ideas. “Our standing committee has decided to offer postdoctoral fellowships to women scientists. We are also exploring providing liberal education in STEM courses,” he said. He cited music and art appreciation as examples of adding more diverse modules to courses.
“Last year… we invited high school girl students to the campus, who were trained by senior members of our institute. When you’re young, you need somebody…you can identify with,” he said, adding that the institute has two women deans aside from those acting as heads of departments and professors.
One of IIT-B’s priorities is to train entrepreneurs to become job givers, not just job seekers, said Chaudhari. “We are setting up research labs and plan to liaison with a large number of corporates, inviting them to collaborate with IIT-Bombay in any capacity that allows both sides to benefit,” he said.
The institute has built one hostel while another is under construction. It is also looking at plots for the construction of a third hostel to accommodate more students following the implementation of EWS quota, he said.
On his vision for the coming years, the director said, “We try to place our students at the top of a value chain so they can provide leadership to most initiatives… We must stay ahead of our competitors in terms of what kind of research we do… We have invested a vast amount of resources to make sure that our faculty get the best of resources since the ultimate beneficiaries are students.”