One of India’s most prestigious technical institutions recently sent a scouting party to the USC Viterbi School of Engineering looking for talent. Besides Viterbi alumni teaching at the Indian Institute for Technology (IIT) Bombay, another outcome may be the expansion of the Viterbi iPodia teaching network to the subcontinent.
Hosts and visitors (from left): Dr. A. K. Suresh, IIT Bombay dean of faculty and professor of chemical engineering; USC Viterbi Vice Dean for Global Academic Initiatives Cauligi Raghavendra; Dr. H. S. Pandalai, IIT Bombay deputy director and professor of earth sciences; Dr. Subhasis Chaudhuri, dean for international relations and professor of electrical engineering; USC Viterbi professor and IIT Bombay alumnus Gaurav S. Sukhatme
The visit to Los Angeles followed a visit to IIT Bombay last February by Raghavendra, Dean Yannis C. Yortsos, President C.L. Max Nikias and other USC representatives.
After a morning tour in which Raghavendra and representatives of the Mork Family Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department discussed their work, the visitors joined a number of Viterbi graduate students and faculty for a luncheon at which Dr. Chudhuri introduced them to IIT Bombay and its possibilities.
IIT Bombay was the second of the Indian Institutes of Technologies, a set that now includes 15 institutions across the nation. Its deliberately maintained anachronistic name – “Bombay,” rather than Mumbai, as the city it is in is now known – speaks to its age. The university is located on a secluded 500+ acre campus north of the city, close but insulated from the city’s famous congestion. Some 500 professors are teaching in fields that very closely overlap those at the Viterbi School. IIT Bombay professors, Chudhuri said, have modern research facilities, and opportunities for advancement. And the language of instruction is English.
IIT Bombay is expanding with plans to add faculty in almost every area, building on its strong base. Chudhuri and Suresh explained to the students procedures for faculty hiring and the compensation package. They also encouraged interested students to visit IIT Bombay.
The visit also gave the Bombay delegation a clear look at how many distinguished South Asian scholars are now on the USC faculty, including, besides Raghavendra, IIT Bombay alumnus Gaurav Sukhatme, Rahul Jain, Malancha Gupta, Azad Madni, Sanjit Mitra, Bhaskar Krishnamachari, Rajiv Kalia, Priya Vashishta, Surya Prakash, Varun Soni, Murali Annavaram and Sati Sadhal – along with many others.
After the luncheon, at which students were clearly taking notes, the group went off on another set of meetings, including a visit to Prakash’s hydrocarbon research laboratory and the Distance Education Network facilities.
The afternoon also included a long session with Professors Stephen Lu and David Wilczynski to discuss iPodia, the international "no distance" learning venture launched and led by Lu in spring 2010. In the iPodia program, students from schools on different continents study together using new technology. The current iPodia institutions include the Viterbi School, Peking University (PKU) and National Taiwan University (NTU). The plans discussed foresee a separate Viterbi/IIT Bombay iPodia program.