Special Correspondent

Its golden jubilee celebrations will get under way on July 31

The first research park linked to an academic institute will be opened

A book writing scheme will be launched to produce 35 volumes

CHENNAI: It’s going to be a busy year for Indian Institute of Technology-Madras. From international scientific conferences and a research park to political bigwigs and colourful dance and drama, the institute will have it all as it begins its 50th birthday party.

IIT-Madras was inaugurated on 31 July, 1959, by the then Union Minister for Scientific and Cultural Affairs Humayun Kabir.

Almost half a century later, the institute has grown to more than 5,000 students and almost 400 faculty.

Sober celebrations

“We are an academic institution. We will celebrate soberly, with mostly academic activities,” Dean of Students V.G. Idichandy told reporters on Wednesday.

Those academic activities include opening India’s first major research park linked to an academic institute, hosting 12 international scientific conferences, embarking on a book writing scheme to produce 35 volumes, publishing a new international journal and establishing centres of excellence in telecommunications, nanotechnology, manufacturing and cancer biology.

That’s apart from launching an integrated M.Sc and a four-year B.S. programme and new courses in clinical engineering and medical instrumentation (from 2008) and in nuclear engineering, petroleum technology and food technology (2009).

The celebrations will begin on July 31. Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi and Union Minister for Human Resources Development Arjun Singh will be present.

“That’s symbolic. Of course, the Ministry of Human Resource Development is our supporting institution. And IIT-Madras could only be started because of the generosity of Chief Minister Kamaraj, who gave us these 600-odd acres of forestland,” said director M.S. Ananth.

German sponsorship

The German ambassador to India will also be present to commemorate the German sponsorship and mentoring of IIT-Madras in its early days.

The Indo-German educational cooperation will be at the heart of a series of programmes scheduled for September 8.

Union Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal and his German counterpart Annette Schavan will inaugurate a new Centre for Sustainable Development, to be set up in collaboration with DAAD — German acronym for the German Academic Exchange Service — which will sponsor a German professor at the centre.

“Sustainable development is probably the most important concept in today’s world,” Dr. Ananth said. An international workshop will debate issues of energy and water security, urban and rural sustainable development, global warming and globalisation.

The Ministers will also inaugurate the new engineering design building, supported by Ashok Leyland and German giant Bosch, and the National Centre for Catalyst Research.

This year, IIT-Madras will also host the Pan-IIT alumni meet, the inter-IIT sports meet, a series of Golden Jubilee lectures and special editions of Shaastra and Saarang. For students, the year’s highlights include the modernisation of their activity centre, a new indoor sports complex and a centre for innovation, “where a student can walk in with an idea and walk out with a product,” Dr. Ananth said.