Special Report: Union Minister, Mr.Prakash Javadekar at NITT

The grand inauguration of the Siemens Centre of Excellence (COE) in Manufacturing – an industry partnership with NIT Trichy, under the auspice of Mr.Prakash Javadekar, the Union Minister of Human Resource Development was the buzz of the weekend. The visit happened on 5th October, 2018 with an audience of students and faculty like attending the address and inauguration. As a humongous first of its kind deal was struck between the institute and MHRD which, the Times Of India aptly quoted as, ”NIT Trichy gets Rs 190 crore facility which even IITs don’t have”. Mr. Javadekar was joined by Mr. Mathew Thomas, the Country Sales – Head of Siemens, our Director Dr. Mini Shaji Thomas, and other dignitaries.

The inauguration commenced with the Tamil Thai Vazhthu followed by a welcome address by Dr. Mini Shaji. The Director welcomed Mr. Prakash Javadekar and described the event as a dream come true for NIT Trichy, and that this venture would bridge the gap between the industry and academia.The Director also requested the MHRD to allow more foreign faculty recruitment to NITT to set the bars high in the quality of teaching.

The welcome address was followed by “The Strategic Plan for the term 2019 – 2024” which covered varied aspects of the institute’s growth in terms of a) Teaching and Development, b) Research Opportunities, c) Collaboration with industry and Premier research facilities, d) Sustainability and e) Infrastructure development. The official strategic plan was handed over to the chief guest and the director by the Strategic Planning group which included deans and other dignitaries.

Following the director’s address was the launch of website for the Sangam Hardware Hackathon by the chief guest wherein the themes for the prospective projects for this year were revealed.

The Centre of Excellence in Manufacturing located within the IIIT Tiruchirappalli campus and spearheaded by Prof. Duraiselvam of the Production Department is a unique facility of Siemens in partnership with AMAR Tech. It consists of 12 labs with world class infrastructure to promote interdisciplinary research and transform itself into a Centre of Dynamic Excellence (CODE), in the near future. The lab facilities include 1) Design and Validation lab, 2) Electrical and Energy savings Lab, 3) Internet of Things Lab, 4) Mechatronics Lab, 5) Process Instrumentation Lab, 6) CNC Machines Lab, 7) CNC Controller Lab, 8) Robotics Lab, 9) Rapid Prototyping Lab, 10) Test and Optimisation Lab, 11) Advanced Manufacturing Lab and 12) Automation Lab.

The lab also received its first consultancy contract worth Rs.1.2 crore with BHEL for the first electric bus in Trichy. The MoA was presented to the GM of R&D BHEL by our Director and chief guest.

Shortly after the speech the Director felicitated Mr.Javadekar and Mr.Thomas each with a Tanjore painting.

Mr. Mathew Thomas, Sales Head, Siemens India, started off by saying this was their first Centre of Excellence and that it had been set up in an attempt to bridge the gap between industry and academia. The CoE setup in collaboration with AMAR Tech boasts of fully functional labs outfitted with the latest equipment to aid rapid prototyping. He went on to say such centres will play key roles in involving students in the 4th industrial revolution as evidenced by BHEL Trichy’s decision to partner with NIT Trichy for the development of electric buses. A Consultancy Contract and Memo of Association were presented for the same.

Hon’ble Minister of HRD, Javadekar declared the CoE open and spoke about how the institute’s campus was the best among all NITs. He said BHEL entered in a contract with NITT because it believed in the institute, this is also a sign of victory as industries have started to turn to Indian institutes instead of foreign universities. He then talked about how graduates have to be trained once again by industries before they can be employed as engineers, but such Centres of Excellence provide the much needed experiential learning. He encouraged students to participate in hackathons (both the smart India Hackathon and Sangam) as they bring out the much needed innovation necessary to solve many of our problems, he also emphasised on how hackathons help find solutions to real world problems. He then complimented Siemens for helping the students learn experientially.

Going on to cite the various programs his ministry had conducted in the recent past to boost innovation, Mr. Javadekar mentioned the first Smart India Hackathon, in which 40000 students had participated to create viable solutions for 54 major industrial problems. This led to deployable prototypes that are soon going to become products. He also requested faculty and students to work together to solve problems based on customized requirements of the industry.

He also cited the success of NPTEL and Swayam courses along with the Prime Minister’s Research Fellowship, which pays a stipend of 1 lakh per month.  

The corporate world, he says would be watching the lab and the institution, waiting for it to succeed. Finally, Mr. Javadekar commended NIT Trichy on taking the lead and said that hopefully, other NITs will soon follow and that the healthy competition between NITs and IITs will compete together to bring about world class education.

Photo courtesy of Pixelbug, NIT Trichy.
Report by Arpit Mohakul, Manu Aatitya, Rishab Senthil Kumar.

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