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IIT Kanpur – Networking With The Alumni

Anil Saigal

On May 19th, IIT Kanpur in cooperation with Sangam hosted a Networking with the Alumni event at the Stratton Student Center in MIT. It was a sold out-event with more than 100 people in attendance. Saikat Guha, a Ph.D student at MIT welcomed the guests and gave a brief history of the Kanpur Indo-American Program. Mrs Dorothy Dahl, who was invited speaker spoke of her husband's involvement in the porgram. "Prof. Norman Dhal of MIT along with two other professors visited India in 1961 and laid the foundation for the eventual cooperation. This was made possible in part due the excellent rapport between Prof. Kelkar, First Director of IITK and Prof. Dhal, and their shared vision to create ‘an environment to release psychic energy’ and establish an institution with the best faculty anywhere in the world,” said Mrs. Dorothy Dahl.

The keynote speaker for the evening was Prof. Sanjay Dhande, Director of IITK. Prof. Dhande received his Ph.D from IITK. After working for a couple of years as a Research Associate and Assistant Professor in the US, he returned to IITK in 1979 and over the years served as head of the department of Mechanical Engineering and Dean of R&D before becoming Director. “The typical life of a company is 10-20 years, that of an individual between 70-80 years, where as the life of an educational institution is measured in centuries,” said Dhande "As such it is necessary to maintain the standards. Even though BHU, Aligarh Muslim University, Bombay University, Calcutta University, etc. were hallmarks of education in the early part of the 20th century, they do not have the same standing today due to lack of vision and trusteeship over the years."

Prof Dhande then gave an overview of all the recent developments at IITK including the new department of Computer Science and Engineering (cost Rs. 25 crores donated by Narayan Murthy), Bio-Science and Bio Engineering building (cost Rs. 12 crores donated by Arun Shourie), SAMTEL Center for Display Technologies (cost Rs. 5 crores donated Satish Kawda), SIDBI Center for Innovation and Incubation for Small Industries (Rs. 4.5 crores), 12 Fully Furnished Visiting Faculty Apartments, residence halls for girls and boys, Media Lab Asia Building, railway reservation center on campus, Ericsson ADSL server with 5000+ lines, Internet and Cable TV network, flood lit hockey and football field and a number of renovation projects. Additions in the academic areas included Flight Testing Laboratory, High Speed Aerodynamic Laboratory, Biological Imaging Facility, DNA Sequencer, AFM Facility, NMR Facility, SQUID High Magnetic Field Lab, Advanced Center for Materials Science, Ecological and Analytical Testing Lab, and Electronic Classrooms for Distance Education. Prof. Dhande gave such a dynamic and positive talk that at times I am sure a number of attendees thought that IITK is the place to be.

In terms of future, IITK is working on a Library Expansion project (Rs. 7 crores) and programs focused on Research, Global Competition, State-Society Partnerships and a Creative Technical Education. Prof. Dhande had a great sense of humor and talked about the 4 groups of Alumni: 0-7 years, the ones who are very enthusiastic but have no money; 7-20 years, ones who are working on car 1, car 2, house 1, house 2 etc. and have no time for anything; 20 years or more, ones who are settled and suddenly think about ‘where is my institution’; and finally 35 years of more, ones who become philosophical in life. He also talked about lack of knowledge about IP because since our first-year at IIT we believe in open-source and sharing of knowledge and homework for others to copy.

Alumni who attended the event found it very informative. “It was very good to know about all the changes taking place, to see old buildings we were familiar with which brought back memories. The presentation was down to earth and interesting” said Tej Dhakar. “It was wonderful to meet other alumni, and listen to the progress taking place at IITK” said Ajit Kumar

With all the planned developments, IITK could become an institution that rivals world class institutions in the US. Some well-known members of the community including Dilip Jain, Subhash Varshney, Nanaji Saka, Triveni Upadhyay, Amar Gupta and Dev Gupta attended the event. Rakesh Pandey, Manu Prakash, Saikat Guha are to be congratulated for organizing an informative event.

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Prof. Dhande

Saikat Guha

Tej Dhakar and Ajit Kumar

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