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IIT-M made significant progress in 2020 despite pandemic

IIT Madras

rom its first-ever ‘mixed-reality’ convocation to launching the world’s first online BSc Degree in data science, the institute recorded major achievements and developments in cutting-edge areas of research and innovations.

Despite facing a challenging year brought about by COVID-19, Indian Institute of Technology Madras has risen to the occasion and undertaken 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 a ‘mixed-reality’ mode that saw a combination of physical and virtual worlds. A video of the Convocation 2020 can be downloaded from this link – https://fromsmash.com/IIT-Madras-Convocation-2020. The Institute 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 Standard XII.

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 priorities for the upcoming year, Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director, 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.”

With the launch of online B.Sc. Degree in Programming and Data Science, IIT Madras took a major step towards eliminating barriers to quality education such as academic background and geographic location. This program aims to create a thoroughly trained programmer, proficient in application development, data sciences and machine learning. The program is flexible with multiple entry and exit points for learners from different backgrounds with different aspirations.

IIT Madras once again emerged as the undisputed leader in education in India this year, bagging the top honours in 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 second consecutive year, 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.

IIT Madras' 'virtual' Convocation

COVID19-related Innovations and Entrepreneurship

Modulus Housing Start-up developed a portable hospital unit that can be installed anywhere in the country within a few hours to treat COVID-19 patients. Called ‘MediCAB,’ these microstructures have already been deployed successfully in Wayanad district of Kerala with more deployments in the pipeline. Muse Wearables, another IITMIC-incubated start-up, developed and launched a smart wearable tracker that could detect COVID-19 Symptoms.

IIT Madras-supported start-ups such Fabheads Automation and Axis Defence Labs developed PPEs such as face shields from 3D Printers as well as commonly available stationery materials besides to protect frontline healthcare professionals.

In addition, a team led by Dr. Mohanasankar Sivaprakasam, Department of Electrical Engineering, IIT Madras, partnered with Helyxon, a healthcare startup in IIT Madras Research Park, to develop and deploy a remote patient monitoring solutions for COVID-19. The device is a first-of-its-kind in the market that does clinically accurate continuous monitoring of four critical parameters – Temperature, Oxygen Saturation, Respiratory Rate and Heart Rate.

Dr. V. V. Raghavendra Sai, Department of Applied Mechanics, IIT Madras, collaborated with RICOVR Healthcare Inc., a US-based rapid diagnostics platform company, to develop a revolutionary point-of-care COVID-19 antigen test that can provide results in five minutes using saliva. This project won the prestigious ‘Ignition Grants’ Award from the U.S. India Science and Technology Endowment Fund (USISTEF). Dr. Kavitha Arunachalam, Associate Professor, Department of Engineering Design, IIT Madras, collaborated with the industry to develop a touchless sanitizer dispenser that can be deployed in running vehicles such as cars, vans, buses and even auto rickshaws. This design was scalable for use with both AC and DC power.

IIT Madras Convocation

Internships and Placements

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 IIT Madras students this academic year of 2020-21 as against 170 offers during 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 this Internship Drive alone saw the participation of 20 companies who made as many as 152 offers to Undergraduate Students. The last year’s figure was 147 offers, made on Day One of 2019.

Recognition and Research

The institute faculty, researchers and students published paper in reputed peer-reviewed high-impact journals on various fields including

Ø producing hydrogen from seawater,

Ø treating cancer using clove oil,

Ø detecting tuberculosis from urine samples,

Ø various aspects of COVID-19,

Ø Lithium ion batteries,

Ø electric vehicle braking systems,

Ø text-to-speech conversion,

Ø how dust impacts snow melt in the Himalayas,

Ø energy efficiency in Indian industries, and

Ø 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 alumnus.

Ø Padma Shri conferred on Prof. Pradeep Thalappil, Institute Professor, Department of Chemistry, IIT Madras

Ø Padma Bhushan conferred on Mr. Venu Srinivasan, Chairman, TVS Group and Honorary Professor of Practice, IIT Madras

Ø Padma Shri conferred on Mr. Prem Watsa, Founder-Chairman, Fairfax Financial Holdings, and Distinguished Alumnus, Batch of 1971, IIT Madras.

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