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IIT Roorkee @175: transformation from an engineering college to an institute of national importance


“We are today in the top six technical institutes in India. The rest of them do not have a history of over 70 years,” said BVR Mohan Reddy, Chairman, Board of Governors of IIT Roorkee

On a bright sunny day, the beautiful lawns of IIT Roorkee were filled with the institute’s alumnus, students, and parents to celebrate the institute’s 175th Foundation Day on Friday. Emotions were high as most of them were meeting their pals after many years.

The transformation of IIT Roorkee from an engineering college in the British era to one of the premier IITs in the country is phenomenal.

Established as The Roorkee College in 1847 as the first engineering college in the British Empire, the institute was recognised for its performance and potential in view of independent India’s needs.

In November 1949, it was elevated as the first engineering university of independent India.

On September 21, 2001, the university was declared an institute of national importance, by passing a bill in the parliament, changing its status from the University of Roorkee to the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee. Today, IIT Roorkee has established itself as one of the best institute in areas like earthquake detection and water management.

BVR Mohan Reddy, Chairman, Board of Governors, IIT Roorkee, and Founder Chairman of Cyient, told the audience that in the corporate world the life of companies is becoming shorter due to huge competition. It will be same and true with educational institutions too. However, at IIT Roorkee, it is the opposite. The transformation in the last 175 years has made IIT Roorkee an institution of repute.

“We are today in the top six technical institutes in India. The rest of them do not have a history of over 70 years,” he added.

The institute’s reputation is not due to the labs or the campus but because of academic credentials and type of research that’s being done, he said.

“We need to build institutions which will last for ever. This institution has been built to last for ever. The foundation stone is strong. We need to be constantly changing. Millennials and centennial of today and the students are far different from what we were. The environment is different. In a class, if the teacher is not engaging, the student starts taking out the mobile phone and looks at Twitter or Facebook. I don’t hold the students responsible for it, but it is the teachers’ responsibility to engage them,” he said.

KK Pant, Director, IIT Roorkee, said the institute aims to lead the transition in the new era of higher education and increase contributions to basic and applied research leading to the development of products, infrastructure, processes, and materials for different sections of society.

“Our institute has not only been the pioneer in the field of research and innovation but also fostered the academia-industry relationship for the larger interest of society and the nation,” he said.

Under the IITR@175 initiative, IIT Roorkee reached out to institutions within 200 km of Roorkee for collaboration, help start research in the areas of importance, augment creation of labs and attract funding from various government and non-government organisations.

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla in his address said that IIT Roorkee has unwaveringly aimed at attaining global levels of excellence in education and creating a sustainable and equitable society through innovative research.

“I am sure that IIT Roorkee will continue to serve the nation and build competency and recognition for India as a Vishwa Guru.”

As part of the celebrations, several start-ups incubated at the institute showcased their products/technologies in the domains like robotics, artificial intelligence, healthcare, and electric vehicles.

This reporter was in Roorkee at the invitation of IIT Roorkee


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