IIT Ropar is now independent of IIT Delhi's mentoring and administration
To be sure, for IIT-Ropar, as well as for the other newer IITs, to gain as much prominence as their famous counterparts will be a long haul.
But, when we get there, he recollects having dropped off a bunch of BTech students. “In another year all visitors will remember our state-of-the-art campus, which is coming up 4 km from the temporary campus (in a former women’s polytechnic), spread over 500 acres on the banks of the Sutlej,” declares IIT-Ropar director Sarit Kumar Das, a professor formerly at IIT-Madras.
That hasn’t stopped Das, who arrived at the transit campus to take charge a month ago, from getting to work immediately to change the perception of the newbie IIT, which held its first academic session in 2008-09 from the IIT-Delhi campus.
Moving out of the Delhi campus, however, may prove easier than moving out of the shadows of the famous mentor in the capital. To be sure, for IIT-Ropar, as well as for the other newer IITs, to gain as much prominence as their famous counterparts — Kanpur, Bombay, Madras, Kharagpur, and Delhi — will be a long haul.
That said, there’s little doubt on the need for more IITs, not at least in Das’ mind.
“The IITs as premier institutions produce leaders not just in engineering but also entrepreneurship, finance and banking, academics and management. So it’s ridiculous to say that there are too many IITs being set up; even if all Indian states were to have an IIT, the maximum number of engineers who will graduate from them will be about 10,000 annually,” he says. India needs a much bigger engineering workforce — close to three lakh from every graduating batch, adds Das, brushing aside apprehensions of the brand’s dilution.
For now Das reckons comparing the new IITs to the premier IITs, which have evolved over decades, is an unrealistic exercise. “In India and overseas, it takes many long years to build world class institutions. So expecting the new IITs to play catch-up in a few years is not feasible.”
Das is aware that IIT-Ropar doesn’t have an alumni network to tap into.
But he sees a way out. “Punjab has a huge diaspora spread across countries such as the US, UK, Canada and we hope to build an emotional connect with the non-resident people from this state who feel a sense of pride at the IIT label coming to their home state. That’s one way to compensate for the lack of powerful alumni networks which the traditional IITs benefit from.”
The absence of an alumni network is felt in placements and pay packets. Abhishek Raj Nigam, a student member of the placement and training team, acknowledges the challenge, but points out that they aren’t doing too badly vis-a-vis the top tier. “IITRopar is getting good companies coming to campus for recruitment and our average salary packages are comparable to the other new IITs,” says the computer science student in IIT-Ropar’s graduating batch of 2016.
DP Singh of the training and placement office at IIT-Ropar confirms that the placement season for the class of 2015 has been a good one. “Overall there has been a 73.4 per cent placement for our class of 120 students.
There was a good mix of recruiters including IT companies such as Google, Microsoft, TCS; ecommerce players like Amazon, Flipkart, eBay, Paypal, Zomato; engineering companies like L&T, Mahindra, Tata Motors and public sector companies as well. Some of our students have also started their own companies,” adds Singh. While the best overall package was Rs 28.5 lakh, the average was Rs 11 lakh.
Abhishek Singh (name changed on request) of the mechanical engineering department of the previous batch at IIT-Ropar has joined a leading e-commerce company at an annual package of Rs 11 lakh after being recruited on campus. “Being part of a small class at IIT-Ropar was a huge advantage.
Also in a new campus we got the opportunity of starting new things such as the economics and finance club, of which I was the founder, which students at the older IITs will never get,” Singh, who now works in Bengaluru, said.
In 2012, one of IIT-Ropar’s BTech students, Anshul Garg, topped the IIM Common Admission Test (CAT). “IIT-Ropar already has good faculty members but we need more global exposure for our students and faculty,” says Raghunath Reddy, a PhD scholar who has been working at IITRopar for the last three years.
Das, meanwhile, believes the new IITs should go beyond salary packages and Joint Entrance Exam ( JEE) percentages. “We have a lot of freedom to choose areas of expertise and excellence, both locally and at the national level,” he says.
IIT-Ropar is also in that tricky phase where it has to stand on its own feet and not let the mentorship model stretch too far. “After six years and four batches passing out of the institute, it’s time to cut the umbilical cord with IIT-Delhi,” asserts Das.