Another year of IIT Hyderabad, innovating and scaling new heights

Hyderabad: Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Hyderabad has completed another year while achieving great success. The year 2017 proved that the Institute is working towards its aim to make an indelible mark in research and education.

Speaking about the achievements of the Institute in 2017, Prof. U.B. Desai, Director, IIT Hyderabad, said, “This has been a great year with faculty getting many awards like the INSA young scientist award, INAE young engineer award, NASI young scientist award and many more. Our research in 5G, nanoscience, and other domains is getting recognition world over. On the academic front also, we have innovated and created more flexibility”.

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Some snapshots of the achievements in 2017 are listed below:

Academic Courses

The Institute introduced two new B.Tech courses- B.Tech. in Engineering Mathematics and B.Tech. in Minor in Design in the academic year 2017-18. B.Tech. (Engineering Mathematics) will enable students to pursue higher studies, such as a Ph.D., in Math in world-class universities. The advantage of the Minor in Design Course is not just about employability but also supporting the students to be creative thinkers and begin initiatives of their own.

IIT Hyderabad also introduced an All Course M.Tech. program with specializations in Civil, Electrical, and Mechanical Engineering. The current two-year program consists of two semesters of coursework followed by 14 months of research. The All Course M.Tech. program can be completed in three to four semesters. On successful completion of the program, the student will receive an M.Tech. degree.

Prof. K. Siva Kumar, Dean of International and Alumni Relations, IIT Hyderabad, informed that in 2017, a total of 13 MoU’s were signed with foreign universities, educational institutions and industries. Of these, nine universities and one industry were from Japan.

Further, a joint PhD program was also launched this year with Swinburne University, Australia. A total of 11 students have been admitted for this joint PhD program.

Awards

In recognition of the role played by IIT Hyderabad in uplifting villages under Unnat Bharat Abhiyan (UBA) initiative, the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) presented the Swacchta Award. As a part of UBA, IIT Hyderabad adopted five villages belonging to members of Scheduled Tribe Communities. The Institute along with Ms. Bharathi Hollikeri, Medak District Collector, conducted an extensive socio-economic survey of villages to identify the grassroot issues. Spatial and non-spatial information was mapped with the help of Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) survey, in the Geographic Information System (GIS).

Prof. Aravind Kumar Rengan, Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, IIT Hyderabad, was awarded the prestigious Indian National Science Academy (INSA) medal in the Young Scientist category for 2017 for devising a novel way of nano-delivery using liposomes and gold nanoparticles. This is useful for both imaging and therapeutics.

Another professor, Dr. Sushmee Badhulika, Associate Professor, Department of Electrical Engineering, IIT Hyderabad, was awarded the prestigious Indian National Academy of Engineering (INAE) Young Engineer Award 2017 in recognition of her notable contribution in the field of flexible and wearable nanoelectronics and eco-friendly paper-based electronics. Her research group at IITH has developed a low cost, artificial electronic skin (e-skin), beneficial to acid attack and burn victims, where a part of the skin is permanently damaged and loses functionality.

Students Achievements

IIT Hyderabad students were the Second Runner-ups in the Cyber Peace-a-Thon, a flagship event organised by Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Government of India, with a few other collaborators. The team of Ph.D. students from IIT Hyderabad worked on Monitoring Online Sexual Abuse against Children. They proposed an Artificial Intelligence based solution to monitor and block the uploading of child abusive content into/ from the cyberspace.

Transformational research

Research under Prof. Chandra Shekhar Sharma

A team led by Dr. Chandra Shekhar Sharma, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, IIT Hyderabad, developed a jamun (black plum) seed-based ‘activated carbon’ to remove fluoride from drinking water to the levels considered acceptable by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Jamun seed powder was first converted into a highly porous carbon material by a chemical treatment followed by processing at higher temperatures to improve its efficiency. Then, trials were carried out with the obtained material for synthetic fluoride solutions prepared in the laboratory. Later, this was tested on the groundwater samples collected from Nalgonda district, one of the worst fluoride-affected areas in the country. After the treatment, the fluoride concentration was reduced to the acceptable limit of WHO (less than 1.5 mg/l).

It takes several years for polystyrene (thermocol being a widely used form of it) to be degraded in the natural environment. A group of researchers from the Institute has demonstrated a cheaper, low-energy, and green way of recycling polystyrene and low-density Styrofoam (a form of expanded polystyrene) using orange peel extract. The process basically involves dissolving polystyrene in the citrus extract and drawing it into fibres using wet/solution spinning. The fibre is then turned into a non-woven fabric of 1 sq. foot size. Since fabric made of recycled polystyrene is naturally oil-loving, it can be used for day-to-day household cleaning in kitchens, and also for large-scale removal of oil-spills. The project has received financial support of Rs.37 lakhs from the Technology Development Board, Department of Science and Technology (DST) under the Waste Management Programme. The innovation also won a gold medal in the recently concluded World Invention and Innovation Forum (WIIF) 2017 in Guangdong, China.

5G

IIT Hyderabad has tabled India’s patent on 5G technology before the international body that sets the standards. This will save billions in Forex as payments for royalties/licences for mobile handsets can now be reduced. Right now, for every mobile handset sold in India, the buyer pays a certain amount in royalty and licensing to a patent holder abroad. The patent was presented at a conference held in Spokane, U.S., on 3rd April 2017 by 3GPP – Third Generation Partnership Project, the body that defined global cellular radio standards including 2G, 3G, 4G, and now for 5G. Standards Essential Patents (SEPs) are the ones that are written in the standards that every phone/base station manufacturer has to implement in the device. The SEPs are typically owned by large telecom companies. They derive patent royalties from their portfolio of patents.

Entrepreneurial Environment

This year saw the first graduating batch of Center for Healthcare Entrepreneurship. The Centre has been the epicenter of healthcare innovation in the Hyderabad area. A young 10-year-old Institute is leading the way in entrepreneurship with three focused incubators in the areas of Technology, Healthcare and fabless chip design. Smart Baby Vitals Monitor by Nemo Healthcare and Arm re-trainers by Arm-Able for those afflicted by a stroke were among the first products unveiled at the Center.

A device for peritoneal dialysis, an exoskeleton for helping those with immobilized legs, a recycled fabric made from polyester by Restyro technologies, smart power monitoring solutions using the Internet of Things by SKIoT and Healthbook pro, a medical records system, are among the other products from the Centre.

An IIT Hyderabad incubated start-up, PuREnergy, is a catalyst for the nation’s green energy initiative and has taken the plunge to design smart hybrid solar energy solutions for industrial, commercial and residential users. It executes projects in the areas of smart and innovative solar systems; Internet of Things (IoT) based energy management, health monitoring/diagnosis of solar plants, skill development and R&D activities, says Prof Nishanth Dongari, founder of PuREnergy and Assistant Professor at IIT Hyderabad.

Design Innovation Centre

The Design Innovation Centre (DIC), a part of the Department of Design of IIT Hyderabad, has been set up under the National Initiative for Design Innovation by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD). DIC has been working towards the infrastructure of the ecosystem, in which designers and engineers in academia interact with real-world problems and stakeholders to give shape to creative entrepreneurial co-operation and collaboration. The Centre works across various areas like Design for Education, Preservation of Culture Through Animation, Digital Preservation of Monuments.

The Design for Education aims to introduce design subjects in schools as part of the pedagogy and include teaching of theory and application in the design of products, services and environments.

The project on Preservation of Culture Through Animation aims to recreate history and culture of Telangana through Virtual Reality Animation, take the viewers through a unique interactive experience of 360 Degree Animation and preserve the culture of Telangana through the medium of Animation Film.

The Design Innovation Centre at IIT Hyderabad is engaged in developing a 360-degree virtual reality animation short film based on the story of Hayat Bakshi Begum of the Qutb Shahi Dynasty. The stylized treatment of the film is inspired from the Deccan paintings, the motifs seen on the architecture of the Qutb Shahi tombs, the Golkonda fort and the Charminar, says Prof. Delwyn Jude Remedios, Assistant Professor, Department of Design, IIT Hyderabad.

The Film aims at preserving the oral history of the Qutb Shahi Dynasty, thus preserving the intangible medium into a tangible one.

The third project on Digital Preservation of Monuments aims at documenting, preserving and conserving historical monuments. It seeks to translate the physical experience of people visiting these monuments into a digital medium and recreate a digital experience as good as the original physical experience of the monuments. This project also looks at creating a knowledge base for the future, parallelly communicating the form, style, design, culture and history to next generation. Currently, this project is working on digitizing the experience for Qutab Shahi and Brahma temple.

Convocation

During the 6th Annual Convocation, the Institute crossed another milestone by awarding 473 degrees: 201 B.Tech., 49 M.Sc., 141 M.Tech., 20 Executive M.Tech., 14 M.Des., 7 M.Phil., 40 Ph.D., and 1 M.S. 8 students were awarded dual degrees in BTech. & MTech.

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