Monday, July 27, 2009

Campus Accommodation for B.Tech. Students

From the beginning, IIIT is designed to be a residential campus. When we announced out B. Tech. Programme a couple of weeks ago, the foundation casting of the hostel was being done. There is no way the hostel will be ready by 1st Sept when classes will begin.

Parents of a lot of candidates called us about hostel accommodation. Our answer was that there is no hostel accommodation on the campus till 2nd Sem, but we are trying. We wrote a letter to the Government requesting them to allot a few flats. That request is still in progress.

Some parents of girls meanwhile argued that since they are not from Bhubaneswar, they will have a very hard time finding accommodation. They also raised the issue of security and safety. I completely agreed with them. I discussed the issue with Prof. Ajit K Das and Siddharth. We decided to scout for hostel accommodation in the City last weekend. While accommodation was available, the conditions were not satisfactory. IIIT can not lend its name to such accommodation. I told Siddharth to find alternatives.

Siddarth came up with a bright idea. The 3rd Floor of the Academic Building is ready but unfinished. We were not planning to use this space in the first year. Why not provide dormitory accommodation in the first semester in that space. We thought about it. The more we thought about it more we liked the idea. There are several plus points: safe and hygienic accommodation, no travel, etc.

It is not the same as providing our regular Hostel Accommodation but far better than staying in some shabby place in the city. We will provide a bed, table and a chair to the students. About 11 students will be accommodated in a room. We should be able to accommodate able to accommodate about 180 students.

I hope that the students and their parents will appreciate our efforts. In a few months the hostel will be ready and the Dormitory accommodation will be a thing of the past.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

My encounter with our First B.Tech. Student

Today, in my office a mother and a daughter came looking very dejected. They informed me that the girl has already taken admission in IIIT in the JEE counselling process. I was alarmed to see their dejected face. I wanted to know the reason.

The girl informed me that she came to know about the IIIT Fee after taking admission and found the fee very high. She wanted our help in any way. We tried to explain our fee structure and then wrote a letter to the JEE authorities requesting them to inform the students about our fee structure before they exercise their choice. I also requested the JEE authorities to give the girl one more chance to choose her institute and branch.

I joined for B.Tech. 30 years ago in IIT Kharagpur. The tuition fee was about Rs 200 year and I used spend about Rs. 250 a month on boarding and lodging. Looks very cheap today. My father who was a teacher used earn about Rs. 500 per month. The point is that Engineering education was very expensive those days inspite of near-zero tuition fees. After three years when my brother also took admission in Burla, nothing was left from the salary to feed our family.

About 10 years ago, I was the admission coordinator in XIMB. The institute decided to raise the fees to provide computers and other facilities to the students. I was not sure if the students will accept such a sudden hike. During the admission interviews, I tried to gauge the reactions of the students to this proposal. To my utter surprise, the typical reaction was that if it is going to improve the quality of the education, we will pay; we have not come here to cut cost but to get quality education.

Today, the earning capacity of the general public is a lot more. The middle class values education and hence is willing to spend if it means you get quality education. Look at the fees charged by the IIMs and craze to join these Institutes.

IIIT is a government Institute. The general perception is that in a Government Institute education should be free. Hence, some students and parents are surprised by our proposed fee structure.

IIITs operates with a different paradigm. The government funds us for the capital expenses like the Building etc. The revenue expenses are to be self generated. The faculty has be very good. You will not get good faculty unless they are paid well. The facilities have to be good. The atmosphere has to be eclectic and any visitor must experience inspired creativity in the campus. To achieve this, one needs finances. The finances may come from the Government or from the students. In case of IIITs, second option is chosen.

The students will get education which will be best in its class. We are confident that the time students will spend here will remain the high point of their life.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Remote Desktop

I have been a fan of Serverside computing for ages.

In XIMB and IIIT, we used thin clients using RDP protocol to access a windows server. It works really cool. It reduces our maintenance efforts to a great extent.

I always wondered if a Linux desktop can be shared in a similar fashion.

The common Xserver software available are not very elegant. In any case they do not give you a desktop.

I came across nomachine ( which permits a similar functionality as RDP. It has a free version of the software. I have been playing with by installing the server on a Ubuntu Box and the client on a Windows box. The performance is good.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

AICTE Approval

Finally, we have got AICTE approval to start B.Tech. Programme. It is a milestone for IIIT Bhubaneswar.

Three years ago we made a promise to create an Institute of national Importance. For an Institute so young it was a grand vision. We laid the road map. Start M.Tech in 2007. Start Building the campus in 2008. Start B. Tech. in 2009. We have achieved each of these mile stones. Every one lent a helping hand. The Government of Orissa, AICTE, the contractor, our own faculty members, students and our staff have helped us in achieving this.

Now, we will go through the admission process for B.Tech. programme.

The tougher part starts now. The kids who will join us are to be moulded to be the among the best in the country. After the bureaucratic success, we are determined to achieve the real one that is create the best engineering brains for the country.