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Besu charts upgrade course

Besu’s new tag as the Indian Institute of Science, Education and Technology (IISET) is expected to bring about an all-round development of the institution set up more than 150 years ago. Many on the campus hope the upgrade will turn the institute into one of the best in the country. Metro lists some of the areas where the campus will see some radical changes.

Study programmes

What will mark out the IIEST is its unique dual-degree programme with multi-disciplinary subjects to choose from. “The IIEST will offer five-year integrated dual-degree programmes. At the end of the term, the students will get the master’s degree,” said vice-chancellor Ajoy Kumar Ray.

A student pursuing a BTech in electrical engineering can opt for a master’s degree in renewable energy or telecom engineering. Or a civil engineer can choose to study water technology for his master’s. “This is one area where even the IITs are lagging behind,” said Ray, who had been the head of the School of Medical Science and Technology at IIT Kharagpur before joining Besu as vice-chancellor in 2009.

Professors of various departments will meet next week to thrash out the details. “We have started work on chalking out the new curriculum but we need to prepare further,” said Kalyan Bhadra, of the civil engineering department.

Civil being one of the base subjects, the department will have collaborative programmes with a number of departments like architecture, chemistry, physics, materials and material sciences.

“For example, a student who wants to study water pollution for his master’s will have to choose subject papers from civil engineering and chemistry. Similarly, someone wanting to study nano materials for his master’s will have to choose course papers from civil engineering, in which he will study structural materials and metallurgy or material sciences,” Bhadra explained.

Partho Chattopadhyay, the dean of faculty council for postgraduate studies in engineering and technology at Besu, said: “In the past couple of years, we have opened a number of centres of excellence that are working on such inter-disciplinary programmes. The concept is evolving and the paradigm shift has already happened. The transformation to the five-year integrated programme from our current conventional one should be gradual.”

Collaborations

Besu as an IISET will have more collaborations with industry as well as foreign institutes. “Over the past two years at Besu, we have had a number of seminars, training programmes and collaborative research with many industries across the country as well as foreign universities,” said the vice-chancellor.

The IIEST will also offer split-site PhD programmes, and student and faculty exchange programmes with foreign universities. Split-site PhD programmes will enable a scholar who has registered for a PhD programme at the IIEST to undertake a few courses at a foreign institution or even at one of the IITs.

“Students enrolled for a split-site programme will be able to do a part of their research at an institute with which the IIEST will have a collaboration. Apart from the IIEST, the partner institute, too, may confer a PhD degree on the student if it finds his/her work to be of excellent standard. Split-site PhD programmes are common in Europe and the US,” said an official.

Administration

In terms of administrative structure, the IIEST will follow the IIT model of having several deans and associate deans to take most of the academic decisions.

“Every dean will have his own office and there will be a deputy registrar and an assistant registrar with him. The dean’s office will be very powerful as 70 per cent of decision-making authority will be vested on him. All decisions regarding admission, examination and discipline should be taken by the deans. Only special cases will be looked after by the registrar or the director,” said the vice-chancellor.

The faculty strength will also have to be improved. For every eight students, there should be one teacher. The ratio now is 15:1.

“Teachers will be recruited through a pan-India selection procedure. I hope to bring in teachers from across the country and abroad,” said Ray.

The Shibpur campus is also readying for a huge infrastructure upgrade.

“We need excellent quarters, multi-storey student hostels, an auditorium and a lecture hall complex, and a fully-equipped central library. For this, we need not just funds but also land. I am in talk with the state government regarding land acquisition for expanding the campus,” a teacher said.