The IIIT-K, proposed to be set up near Pala, will focus on research

The Indian Institute of Information Technology-Kerala (IIIT-K), proposed to be set up at Valavoor near Pala, is intended to generate human resources well-equipped in the field of information technology (IT). Chief Minister Oommen Chandy laid the foundation stone for the centre on February 24.

The IIIT-K is the one among a set of premier institutions that is expected to transform Kottayam into an ‘education hub’ in a few years. The other proposed centres include the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, Kerala Science City, and the Institute of Hotel Management and Catering Technology.

The institute, which will be developed on 55 acres, is among the 20 IIITs that is proposed to be established by the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development.

The institutions are expected to contribute significantly to global competitiveness by focusing on applied research and education in IT.

Member of Parliament Jose K. Mani said the centre would be implemented under the N-PPP (Not-for-profit Public Private Partnership) model.

Cost-sharing

The initial cost of the project was estimated at Rs.128 crore in December 2012. Official sources say the figure is bound to increase. The amount has to be generated through contributions in the ratio of 50:35:15 by the Union government, the State government, and the industry respectively. The Cochin International Airport Ltd. (CIAL), Lulu Group, and Rolta India Ltd., which have been roped in as the industry partners, will provide an additional Rs.19.20 crore.

Mr. Mani said the preliminary stages of the proposal had met with certain obstacles. Among them was the difficulty in finding private partners for the project, particularly with the centre proposed to function as a not-for-profit venture. He added that the successful implementation of the project would equip IT professionals to meet the industry’s demands.

According to the detailed project report submitted by the Department of Information Technology, the construction and development of the institute has been planned in three phases. In the first two phases, the basic academic and administrative infrastructure will be developed. The existing facility will be expanded in the third phase.

The centre will be registered as a charitable society and the surplus, after meeting the expenditure, will be used only for its development. Financial self-reliance shall be achieved within five years, through reasonable fees as well as productive use of intellectual resources and infrastructure in patent licensing consultancy, sponsored projects, and industry and alumni sponsorship.

Technopark Chief Executive Officer K.G. Girish Babu, who is the Special Officer of IIIT-K, said that efforts were being made to commence programmes from the next academic year. Although the construction of the institute would take around 24 months, it could become fully operational only in around eight years.

Centres of excellence

It has been proposed to conduct B.Tech. and M.Tech. courses in various specialisations, M.S., M.Phil. and Ph.D. at the centre. Intake to undergraduate programmes will be limited and research will be given prime focus in the curriculum. Students will be admitted for the undergraduate programmes through a centralised examination process. The IIIT will have no departments, only centres of excellence in research.

The research laboratories will focus on the various aspects of IT and Information and Communications Technology (ICT). An indicative list of areas on which the laboratory of the centre could focus include Cognitive Sciences, Social Informatics and New Media, Sports Informatics, Mechatronics and Entertainment Informatics, Legal Studies and Forensic Informatics, Visual Informatics, Computer Science, Computer Engineering and Avionics. Basic Sciences will also be integrated with the laboratories.

Green campus

Another notable proposal is that the campus be constructed without unnecessarily cutting down trees. Attempts should be made to replant trees felled for infrastructural development. The campus should have a green cover and use of electric vehicles should be encouraged on the campus. Solar and wind energy will be harnessed and used wherever possible, the project report stated.

Administrative set-up

Regarding the governance structure of the IIIT, the centre will be run as a deemed university with a conglomerate of researchers, administrative and academic bodies. It will be led by a director who is an eminent researcher and scholar. The governing council will consist of representatives from the Union and State governments, researchers and students of the institute, experts nominated from the industry, other academic institutions and professional societies.

An executive committee comprising members nominated from the governing council and an academic council consisting of researchers and scholars in different fields related to informatics and industry will form the rest of the organisational structure of the institution.