The traffic isn’t all one-way: the OIR is also involved in accepting students from foreign universities and in facilitating their stay at IIT-M for both semester exchanges as well as research programs. Different events are organized for the International students every year. A student volunteer group called the Ipals assist the OIR in helping the foreign students get acclimatized to the environment on campus. The majority of the students who go abroad for exchange programmes are undergraduates who also receive support, just as the postgraduates do, to attend international conferences, which is often through alumni-funded travel grants.
From the next academic year, students stand to benefit from the curriculum revisions that will be implemented. The course-load per semester will be lighter and there will be more freedom to pursue one’s interests by taking more electives from outside one’s department. Students who wish to convert from a B.Tech programme to a B.Tech + M.Tech Dual Degree programme can choose to do their M.Tech in a different department, or in interdisciplinary areas such as data sciences, robotics, or nanotechnology. This freedom applies to the B.Tech and Dual Degree projects too.
What’s more, motivated undergraduate students can now get first-hand experience of research by pursuing independent work under the supervision of a faculty member. But working alone isn’t enough – teamwork and communication skills are more important than ever today. So the time students spend on, and the skills they pick up by, working on IITMSAT or a CFI project will now count for credit.
Enabling students to take advantage of all these opportunities is the academic freedom at IIT-M that so decisively allowed Kris to switch from Physics to Computer Science. “Ours was the first batch of M.Sc. students who got admitted to a postgraduate programme in engineering,” says Kris.
“Luck has played a very big role in my life, actually,” he adds, which is another way of saying that he was at the right place at the right time and met the right people. “Many, many reasons to be thankful to IIT Madras. It really really changed my life.”
Prof. Mahabala too found IIT Madras a haven. “Thanks to the opportunity I got at IIT Madras, we had fun with computers. It is through fun that something interesting happens,” he says.
Nearly four decades later, living in a still-green campus that’s home to deer and blackbuck, taking part in inter-hostel, national, international competitions, the Inter-IIT Sports Meets and other sporting events, and hosting the technical and cultural festivals Shaastra and Saarang, students at IIT Madras certainly have fun. Along with it, through the exemplary work of the faculty members, the administration, the alumni, and generations of students, the sense of adventure that drove Prof. Mahabala and Kris still thrives at IIT Madras.