Indian Institute of Technology, Madras

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These are newspaper articles selected for the excellence of their content.


Distance learning

2017/ M Tech degree through remote learning

Manash Gohain, In a first, IIT Madras offers M Tech degree through remote learning, May 12, 2017: The Times of India, May 12, 2017

Classrooms Will Be Set Up At Workplace

In a first of its kind initiative, IIT, Madras, has taken its teaching process out of the confines of the campus. It has recruited 31M Tech students who will not have anything to do within the physical boundaries of the campus but will complete their course from their workplace. The first programme is for the automobile sector and the institute is planning to expand it to communication, information security and aerospace.

User-oriented impact programmes, tailor-made for corporate employees, are in practice for some time now. Corporates sponsor fresh graduates as well as employees. However, till now they are re quired spend a year in the campus.

“The programme we are launching is M Tech in automotive technology for the industry employees who wish to upgrade their qualification and skills. A part of the curriculum is common to what we teach at IIT, Madras, and a part if it will be tailored to their specific needs,“ said IIT-M Director Bhaskar Ramamurthy .

In this model, a coordinator and classroom would be set up at the industry location and teaching will be imparted by IIT-M faculty in the evenings. This doesn't require employees to take leave or travel to other locations.

“The students will not require to have any physical presence on the campus till the completion of the course. The delivery mode is live online where the students after their work hours will attend classes to be delivered by our faculty ,“ said Ramamurthy . And the students can work at their own pace. All they need is to earn a set number of credits based on which they would be granted degrees. “If they don't earn the entire required credits they can still get a certificate. Moreover, even if the student changes organisation, he she can carry forward the credits and complete the programme,“ said he said.

The students will not need laboratory work as they are already working with the industry .Two preparatory courses on thermodynamics and mathematics have been held for this M Tech programme. Regular classes will commence from May 15.

The institute is planning to start a similar M Tech programme in electrical engineering soon. “We are also planning to offer MTech in communication, information security and aerospace engineering,“ said the director.

Revenues, funding


Nov 2, 2022: The Times of India

New Delhi : Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-M) generated over Rs 1,000 crore in funding and revenue in a financial year for the first time in its history during 2021-22. This sum includes Rs 768 crore of funds from projects sanctioned by the state and central governments and Rs 313 crore in industry consultancy. Its earlier high was Rs 714 crore, registered during the pandemic in 2020-21.

As per the IIT, the major projects that drove the surge in funding and revenue during 2021-22 include education through information and communication technology using Direct-toHome (DTH) worth Rs 300. 2 crore, Centre of Excellence for Road Safety of Rs 99. 5 crore, speech technologies in Indian languages of Rs 50. 6 crore and collecting da-tasets and benchmarks for building Indian language technology for Rs 47 crore.

These collaborations are facilitated by a dedicated team at the centre for industrial consultancy and sponsored research, IIT-M, which is headed by professor Manu Santhanam. 
Professor V Kamakoti, director, IIT-M, said: “The performance of the ICSR is very encouraging and perfectly aligned with the strategic plan of IIT-M. ”

Santhanam, dean, ICSRsaid: “The recent DTH initiative has brought in a new dimension. The high-calibre faculty from the institute have been pushing the boundaries for applications of their research, which brings in more and more industry funding. ”

Santhanam further said the IIT has emerged as a leader in the country in industrial consultancy and sponsored research with large value projects mostly from the computing and 5G sectors, which are expected to grow further.

“The total funding typically shows a growth rate year-on-year of around 5% to 8%, but the industry funding has seen a greater spurt in recent years. A key reason for the growth in industry-sponsored funding is the increased contribution in the form of Corporate Social Responsibility forresearch. ”


Aspirin: how it kills cancer cells

Pushpa Narayan, IIT team figures out how aspirin kills cancer cells , April 7, 2017: The Times of India

For more than three years now, scientists have been saying aspirin, the low-cost painkiller that also prevents heart diseases, can kill cancer cells. Just that they didn't know how.

Now, a team of scientists from Indian Institute of Technology-Madras has discovered how this non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug destroys cancer cells.

The study , published in peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports, found aspirin targeted malignant cells which are high in a protein called voltage-dependent anion channel (VDAC). “The drug induces high levels of calcium ions in the mitochondria of the cancer cells. Elevated levels of calcium prevent mitochondria from breaking down food into energy . Aspirin prevents this energy production and releases toxic substances that kill the cell,“ said IIT-M professor of biotechnology Amal Kanti Bera.

The study will help pharmaceutical researchers design more potent anti-cancer drugs, said researcher Debanjan Tewari, who began his PhD work on the protein three years ago when animal studies showed anti-cancer properties in aspirin. “When we understand how a molecule works, the scope for new drug discovery widens,“ he said.

Research has shown how low-dose aspirin taken every day can reduce risks of cardiac diseases in high-risk people.“We hope it has the same effect on cancer,“ said Tewari.

Data from cancer registries estimate that 14.5 lakh Indians live with the disease. Every year, more than seven lakh new cases are registered and 5.5 lakh die of the disease. An estimated 71 percent of all cancerrelated deaths occur in the age group of 30-69 years. Although most cancers are curable if detected early , oncologists like Dr V Shantha say that less than four out of 10 cancer patients receive any form of treatment mostly because treatment is not accessible or affordable. In 2015, the number of cancers was projected to be 1.1 mil lion and the estimated number of cancer patients who received treatment, including palliative care, was 3.96 lakh.

On an average, a patient has to spend at least Rs1.75lakh for cancer treatment. The cost may go up depending on the type and stage of cancer and hospital where treatment is sought. For the IIT-M team, the study results are more than academic achievement. “We all have seen someone we love suffer due to cancer,“ said Dhriti Majumdar. If low-cost molecules like those in aspirin can kill cancer cells, it can pave way for affordable therapy . “We may not be able to say if aspirin can be directly used as an anti-cancer drug right away since it needs large clinical studies. But we know there is light at the end of the tunnel,“ said Bera.

Toilet seat disinfector

Manash Gohain, 5 IIT-M students come up with tech that disinfects toilet seat, Apr 01 2017, The Times of India

A team of five IIT-Madras students has developed a mechanical device that can lead to safer use of public toilets. The device lifts, sanitises and wipes a toilet seat, and is hands-free.

Currently , the public toilet experience in India can be summed up, by and large, as horrible. They are hothouses for germs. Over 30% of Indian women in the age group of 25 years to 50 years suffer from urinary tract infection (UTI) at some point of time.

These students have de veloped a prototype that comprises a simple foot pedal at the base of the commode that lifts, sanitises and wipes the seat. They estimate the product can be marketed at Rs 750 a piece if mass-manufactured. However, the development cost of it is Rs 5,000.

The estimated 150 million urinary tract infections per annum worldwide cost the global economy in excess of $6 billion, according to C M Gonzalez and A J Schaeffer's study -`Treatment of Urinary Tract Infection: What's Old, What's New, and What Works' in the World Journal of Urology 6 (1999).

According to more recent research published in the International Journal of Cell Science and Biotechnology , urinary tract infections (UTIs) are the “second-most common infection. “About 40% to 50% (of women) will suffer at least one clinical episode during their lifetime,“ it said.

“A lot of people contract UTI due to use of unhygienic public toilets. We met a person from a corporate environment suffering from UTI as he uses public toilets a lot. So our team of Sahay , a group we formed to develop socially relevant technologies, decided to work on a solution at the Centre for Innovation at IIT Madras,“ said Arvind Pujari, a team member.

The students took five months to develop the device, which can be fitted to the existing toilet structure as an add-on.

The mechanism lifts, sprays and wipes. “And one doesn't have to use the hands,“ said Pujari.

The product was among the 40 innovations given the Gandhian Young Technological Innovation Award earlier this month by the President of India.

2019: laser technology, using carrots

U Tejonmayam, IIT-M researchers find new laser tech using carrot, February 5, 2019: The Times of India

Carrots are good for the eye. Now, scientists at Indian Institute of Technology — Madras have proved that carrots can also help humans see objects that are otherwise invisible to the naked eye.

An IIT-M team found carrots can be an effective medium to produce a biocompatible laser with applications in photonics, the branch of technology dealing with photons (units of light).

It all started at a Friday evening experiment in one of the physics laboratories at IIT-M when research scholar Venkata Siva Gummaluri was shooting blue laser light onto a processed carrot. What came out — scattered laser light in the green-to-red wavelengths — surprised him. C Vijayan, a physics faculty member soon joined in. They realised that the effect was something Nobel winning physicist from Chennai C V Raman had observed in 1922 (for which he won the Nobel in 1930); only that this time it happened with a piece of vegetable.

Vijayan said the successful experiment is a first and a small step towards developing photonic technologies using green materials. “At present nobody uses a biological material to produce lasers. This doesn’t replace existing technology, but here is the possibility of generating biocompatible lasers using carrots,” said Vijayan.

The scientists said their technology can be used in photonics required in bioimaging like microscopy used in research labs and in diagnostic equipment. The carrot laser can also be used in temperature sensing, like thermometer, as the light emitted shows a linear response to temperature.

2020/ Clove oil-based cancer therapy

Manash Gohain, May 8, 2020: The Times of India

Researchers from IIT-Madras have developed a clove oil-based emulsion to treat cancer, claiming that the formulation would have enormous scope in the treatment of undifferentiated cancer and can also overcome anti-microbial resistance. The research papers were published recently in the reputed International Journal of Nanomedicine.

The researchers, led by professor R Nagarajan, head of chemical engineering at IIT Madras, have developed a nano-scale emulsion of clove bud using the spontaneous selfemulsification technique with potent anti-cancer and antibacterial activity. This formulation meets all compliance requirements, they said.

According to Nagarajan, while conventional therapies like radiation, chemotherapy and surgery cause severe damage to normal cells and major side-effects, plant-based essential oils have paved a way to devise innovative solutions to these drawbacks.

“The advantages of these emulsions lie in their small droplet size, ease of preparation, optical clarity, good physical stability, improved bioavailability, non-toxicity and non-irritability,” said Nagarajan. “This formulation would have an enormous scope in the treatment of metastatic cancer. Moreover, the components involved are cost-effective and demonstrate good efficacy, and the technique employed is simple,” he said.

The team of scientists includes M Joyce Nirmala, post doctoral fellow, Vineet Gopakumar, B Tech student, and Latha Durai, Research Scientist—all from IIT-Madras.

IIT Madras Research Park

IIT,M Research Park

IT-Madras is India’s Stanford

Sindhu Hariharan,TNN | Mar 20, 2015 The Times of India

India’s Stanford?

If you look at some of the more prominent e-commerce and marketplace ventures of today - be it Flipkart, Snapdeal, Zomato, Quikr, Ola, or Housing - you will find that many have founders who did engineering degrees at IIT Delhi or IIT Mumbai.

But the future of the more technology focused startups - the kind that institutions like Stanford produce in droves - may actually be IIT Madras, and the phenomenal success of some companies like Zoho may be early evidence of that. This has to do with the culture of technology research and industry-academia interaction that the institution has fostered for years, and which has touched a new high with a massive research facility that was launched five years ago.

The IIT Madras Research Park was an idea conceptualized by Ashok Jhunjhunwala, professor at the electrical engineering department of IIT-M, and M S Ananth, the then dean of academic courses and later the director of the institute, to create a bridge between innovations created in the classroom and industry. It is spread across 1.2 million sq ft, houses almost 100 entities - research companies, innovation arms of large corporates, startups and incubators - and has already facilitated filing of over 60 patents.

"We realized that the rewards of R&D are significantly higher if we enable R&D personnel from industry to work jointly with our faculty and students on new ideas," says Bhaskar Ramamurthi, director of IIT Madras and a member of the board at the Research Park.


The success of the ecosystem can be seen in the quality and utility of the innovations produced by its residents. Take Vortex Engineering, which is working towards financial inclusion using disruptive ATM technology. The company claims many firsts - first biometric ATMs for MNREGA, first ATMs to work without AC, and first commercially viable solar ATMs. Narayanakumar R, the chief development officer of Vortex, is all praise for the ecosystem. "Our research activities here have resulted in almost nine patents for the cash technology used in our ATMs," he says.

Ather Energy is building a smart electric scooter at the Park. Swayambhu Biologics is a biotech firm that uses a patented microbial composting process that results in creation of nutrient-rich biomanure along with the advantage of managing distillery effluents and helping industries achieve zero discharge.

IIT-M's Rural Technology Business Incubator incubated Swayambhu in 2012 and gave them much needed resources, equipment and space at the Research Park. Uniphore, incubated at IIT-M in 2008 and which has filed six patents, has leveraged the institution's technical expertise to develop Akeira, a virtual assistant like Apple's Siri. Akeira can be used on any basic phone and its interactive feature keeps farmers informed of advisory messages.

Startups say the presence of R&D divisions of large companies in the same facility enables them to feed into their expertise. TCS has an innovation lab at the Research Park. TCS CTO Ananth Krishnan says the engagement model, the intellectual ambience, and proximity to faculty and students have been a huge positive. "We also get an opportunity to engage and mentor startups doing interesting work," he says.

The environment, though still in its nascent stages, has striking similarities with that of Stanford, which has long had a unique and powerful relationship with Silicon Valley. A study by Stanford academics Charles Eesley and William Miller three years ago estimated that Stanford alumni and faculty members had founded 39,900 companies since the 1930s, creating 5.4 million jobs and generating annual revenues of $2.7 trillion. Its students and alumni have founded companies like Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Cisco to the more recent Google, LinkedIn, Mozilla,Netflix, Paypal, YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat.


IIT-M says it has differentiated the model to suit the Indian context. Director Ramamurthi says the Research Park is perhaps the only one that measures the extent of collaboration with clients through a "credit system". The system assigns points to clients for different joint activities, ranging from joint patent development to supporting student interns. "Unlike Stanford, where the research ecosystem is for academia-industry linkages, while entrepreneurship development happens across the board, IIT-M's facility has succeeded in combining research and entrepreneurial elements in one ecosystem," says Rajan Srikanth, co-president of Keiretsu Forum, an angel investor.

Nagaraja Prakasam, mentor in residence at the N S Raghavan Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning at IIM-Bangalore, says the IIT-M Research Park ecosystem is creating ventures of high technical quality that are solving realworld problems, going beyond internet and mobile consumer ventures. Prakasam is an investor in Uniphore and is in talks with several other ventures for similar relationships.

Shripathi Acharya, managing partner at seed funding venture AngelPrime in Bengaluru, says he would advise startups to have a presence at the Research Park for multiple reasons -- professionalism that comes with being present in such a location, the peer learning that happens at the growth stage, and the visibility that it brings to their ventures.

The biggest proof that the IIT-M model is working is perhaps the fact that others are now looking at replicating it. Devang Khakhar, the director of IIT Bombay, says his institution has set in motion plans for a research park. "We have set up a committee to get it going, land has been earmarked within the campus, and talks are on to garner support from industrial stakeholders," he says.

Development of stealth ships


One of the theories regarding the sinking of British liner Titanic in 1912 was that its rudder was not efficient enough to prevent what was then the largest ship in the world from the striking the iceberg and claiming the lives of more than 1,500 people.

With a less conventional rudder, scientists at Indian Institute of Technology-Madras hope to develop fin-like blades, inspired by animals like penguins, turtles and fish, which can be super-efficient propellers and whiplash-like rudders. These blades respond faster to commands and their dual functions mean they can turn on a dime and save on fuel consumption. T h e bio-inspired propulsion systems can be used in ships remotely , underwater and in aerial vehicles as well.

Just like aquatic animals that navigate without a ripple on the water's surface, these systems can steer a vessel underwater without creating a disturbance -making them hard to detect.Vehicles with these systems are stealthy -the current buzzword in military hardware.

IIT-M's department of ocean engineering P Krishnankutty says aquatic animals make use of a variety of propulsion systems but the IIT-M team focused particularly on penguins and fish, which have better hydrodynamics and cause less disturbance.

Research scholar M N Praveen Babu said the penguin-inspired system has two fins that use the pressure difference between the upper and the lower surface of the fins to generate propulsion, rotating and swinging to move forward.

“The other system inspired by fish has two side fins near to the fore end (where the pectoral fins of a fish are) and a tail fin,“ Babu said. “Both the pectoral and tail fins help propel and manoeuvre but the tailfins give larger thrust.“

The researchers tested propulsion and rudder systems on ship models in two different sizes at varying speeds. “We tested several parameters including selfpropulsion, thrust force, flapping amplitude, flapping frequency , forward speed, lift and drag,“ Babu said. “Certain devices, we found, had an efficiency of 80% when compared to an average of 65%.

2016, rankings

Amongst top 250 in the world

The Times of India, September 7, 2016

Adarsh Jain

The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT-Madras) is the only Indian institution to have bettered its position in the QS (Quacquarelli Symonds) ranking for 2016-17.

IIT-Madras moved up from the 254th position in 2015 to 249 this year, entering the global top 250 institutions. The other eight Indian institutions that featured in the top 700 institutions in 2015 saw a dip in their ranking position this year. Ben Sowter, head of research at the QS intelligence unit, attributes the fall of Indian institutions to a number of factors. "One such factor is India's relatively low numbers of PhD-qualified researchers, which has a direct and deleterious impact on the research productivity and impact of India's universities. This problem is exacerbated by India hiring and attracting fewer PhD-qualified researchers from abroad.

IIT-Madras has been constantly improving its QS ranking in the last three years. It was at 322 in 2014 and has moved up 73 positions in three years a significant achievement for a university. Director of IIT-Madras Bhaskar Ramamurthi, said, "There is no significant improvement in the parameters as such. In fact, we are concerned about the temporary faculty shortage due to the increase of PhD students." However, he attributes the improvement in the ranking to the rising intake of PhD scholars. "Until three years ago, we were admitting 200-250 candidates every year, which has risen to 400-450 now.This will help improve our research output," said Ramamurthi.

However, IIT-Madras has slipped eight positions in the ranking of institutions based on research work. IIT-Madras was 93 in 2015 and has slipped to 101 this year. "We have to look into this and identify the reasons. But, in general if you see institutions with better research rankings, they have got more published research work in life sciences. For some niche engineering and technology streams it is tough to get into reputed international journals," said Ramamurthi.

When asked about the need for increasing intake of international students, Ramamurthi said that Union ministry of human resource and development (MHRD) is working on improving this parameter in public-funded institutions. "We are looking at conducting graduate aptitude test for engineering (GATE) in countries abroad. In the last two months, professors have visited some countries and have studied the possibilities," he said. The ministry is exploring options like Sri Lanka, Bangaladesh, Singapore, Afghanistan some countries in Africa and the Middle East.

In the last two council meetings, the ministry has emphasized on achieving 20% postgraduate students from abroad. IIT-Madras also has a plan in place to improve its ranking, but, Ramamurthi said that most German technical institutions, including some most sought-after places for higher education, are also ranked around the IITs.

National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF): ranked No. 1

The Times of India, April 14, 2016

The rankings under the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) have been carried out in four categories: Engineering, management, pharmacy and university.

There were five key parameters on which an academic institutes were assessed, these include: Teaching, learning and resources; Research, consulting and collaborative performance; Graduation outcome; Outreach and inclusivity; and Perception.

Over 3,500 institutes participated in inaugural edition of these rankings, the process for which started in December 2015.

IIT Madras tops the list with a weighted score of 89.42. Among the oldest IITs, the institute was established in the year 1959.

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