Dr. Krishna Chivukula, a Distinguished Alumnus and the founder Chairman of Indo-US MIM Tec. Pvt. Ltd., made a grant of ₹1.5 crores for IITMSAT, the student-led, nano-satellite project that was initially funded by various other alumni and the Institute. He also inaugurated, in April 2015, the IIT Madras Space Center which houses several test equipment and a clean room to assemble the components of the satellite.
The IITMSAT Project was created by a group of enthusiastic first-year undergraduate students in 2009. Currently, there are over 50 students from various disciplines working on it, some of whom have presented papers at international conferences. The satellite will be placed in a low Earth orbit later this year and will collect data about high-energy charged particles in the outer layers of the atmosphere trapped by the Earth’s magnetic field, and try to find if there are any correlations with other natural phenomena. The data will be transmitted to a ground station that will be set up in the IIT-M campus.
Despite the central role science and technology play in our lives, academia is often accused of living in an ivory tower and not contributing to the world at large. Running counter to this perception is the fact an increasing number of universities around the world have strong ties with industry, working on projects which can be deployed in small, meaningful timeframes. On the other side of the coin, industrial research and development labs such as Microsoft Research, the erstwhile Bell Labs and IBM Research, to name a few, have academic environments in which researchers work on ideas which often have no immediate, visible utility. Especially in the field of engineering, the line between industry and academia is blurring, leading to a symbiotic relationship, at the heart of which are student internships.
Students in the IITMSAT team, for instance, have benefited from visits to, and internships at, several institutions in India and abroad, such as the ISRO Satellite Centre in Bangalore, the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai, the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology in Thiruvananthapuram, York University in Canada and EPFL in Switzerland. https://iitmsat.iitm.ac.in/.