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Despite Covid-19, IIT Madras displayed significant progress in 2020

From its ‘mixed-reality’ convocation to launching the world’s first online BSc Degree in Data Science, the institute recorded major achievements this year

In spite of facing a challenging year brought on by COVID-19, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras rose to the occasion and undertook many initiatives for the welfare of the nation. The institute adapted to the unprecedented situation created by this pandemic by introducing many innovations that not only benefited its students but also the country at large.

For the first time in its history, the institute conducted its convocation using ‘mixed-reality’ that saw a melding of the physical world with the virtual. It also launched the world’s first-ever BSc. Degree in Programming and Data Science, which is being offered completely online and is open to all candidates having completed their 12th Standard.

With the country facing a threat of proportions never witnessed before in the form of COVID-19, IIT Madras and the start-ups incubated by the institute went all out in helping the nation. From infrastructure and diagnostics to PPEs, the faculty and start-ups came up with solutions for problems across the board.

Sharing the institute’s priorities for the upcoming year, Bhaskar Ramamurthi, director of IIT Madras, said, “In the midst of the challenges posed by Covid-19, the faculty, students and staff at IIT Madras discovered their inherent resilience. Looking back, we can say that we have not just kept the needle moving on all fronts – teaching, research, industry engagement, and start-ups – but actually discovered hitherto hidden reserves in ourselves which will enable us to move forward even faster and better once the pandemic is behind us.”

IIT Madras also bagged top honours at the National Institutional Rankings Framework (NIRF) 2020 of the Ministry of Education, Government of India. The Institute was ranked No. 1 in India in both ‘Overall’ and ‘Engineering’ Categories in NIRF 2020. This is the second consecutive year that IIT Madras has bagged the Top Rank in ‘Overall’ Category and No. 1 in ‘Engineering’ category for the fifth consecutive year. IIT Madras has also been identified as an ‘Institution of Eminence’ by the Government of India.

The Institute was also adjudged as the Top Innovative Educational Institute in India for the second consecutive year by the Government of India. It was Ranked number one in the Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARIIA) launched last year by the Innovation Cell of the Ministry of Education.

The institute also witnessed a robust placement season, which was conducted completely online for the first time. As many as 186 Pre-Placement Offers (PPOs) offers were made to the students this academic year of 2020-21 as opposed to the 170 offers during the 2019-20 academic year. The driving force of this performance in PPOs was the strong internship programme of the institute.

The internship drive was conducted completely online this year, for the first time in the history of the institute, to overcome the logistical restrictions due to the pandemic. Day one of the drive alone saw the participation of 20 companies who made as many as 152 offers to undergraduate students. Last year’s figures record 147 offers, made on day one.

Recognition and research by the institute’s faculty, researchers and students published papers in reputed peer-reviewed high-impact journals on various fields including:

Producing hydrogen from seawater
Treating cancer using clove oil
Detecting tuberculosis from urine samples
Various aspects of COVID-19
Lithium ion batteries
Electric vehicle braking systems
Text-to-speech conversion
How dust impacts snow melt in the Himalayas
Energy efficiency in Indian industries, and
Post-Quantum Cryptography, among many other areas.

The institute also had the distinction of Padma Awards being conferred by the Government of India on its faculty members and distinguished alumni. The Padma Shri was conferred on Pradeep Thalappil, institute professor, Department of Chemistry, IIT Madras. The Padma Bhushan was conferred on Venu Srinivasan, chairman, TVS Group and Honorary Professor of Practice, IIT Madras, and another Padma Shri was conferred on Prem Watsa, founder-chairman, Fairfax Financial Holdings, and distinguished alumnus, Batch of 1971, IIT Madras.

Two faculty members from the institute were selected for the prestigious ‘Swarnajayanti Fellowship’ Awards for 2019-20 given by Department of Science and Technology, Government of India. Prabhu Rajagopal, department of Mechanical Engineering, IIT Madras, and P Anbarasan, associate professor, Department of Chemistry, IIT Madras, were among the only 21 researchers in India to have been selected for this recognition.