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Enhancing Industry-Academia Interaction Anil K. Gupta Department of Geology & Geophysics Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur – 721 302 TEACHING, research and extension are the trio of higher education •Teaching - communicates knowledge to students, stimulating their interest in it, and preparing them to take up Industry/Academia job •Research - extends the frontiers of knowledge, and lends depth, breadth and authenticity to teaching •Extension - exploits existing knowledge for socio-economically beneficial purposes – i.e., the Industry-Academia Interaction Industry - Academia Interaction Goals Industry needs and expectations • Big industries have the resources to invest in technology development initiatives. Academic participation is often needed in minor or major technological innovations. In such interactions, industry’s expected time frames have been immediate and investment is directed towards efforts that promise result oriented solutions. Academia expectations • An academician shows interest normally in problems that are intellectually challenging. His areas of interest lie in technology development initiatives and methods related to process and design improvement. Researchers have strong preference for working towards creation of knowledge in specialized areas. For industry- related problems, a researcher has to explore a variety of options which is time consuming. Benefits For Industry • Collaboration provides industry an opportunity to grow its business by using the results of academic research • Industry benefits by using the academic knowledge base to improve industrial cost, quality and competitive dimensions, reducing dependence on foreign know-how and expenditure on internal R&D For Academia • The collaboration earns additional resources for an academic system severely constrained financially • Results move fundamental research from the laboratories to the common man’s place. That is discoveries move from the Academic Institution to the market place Inhibiting factors From the industry's side: Insensitivity to and lack of awareness of the resource potential of the academia, a blind, herd-like obsession with expensive, high-profile professional consultants, easy availability of foreign know-how, compulsions of existing technical collaboration agreements, bad experience of earlier interactions with academia, anxiety to keep problems and breakthroughs confidential for fear of losing the competitive edge. From academia's side: Apathy towards applied research and extension and reluctance to leave the comfort zone of pure teaching; inadequate marketing of its strengths to industry; lack of a critical mass of experts and specialized technical infrastructure; overspecialized loyalties and reluctance to collaborate in inter-disciplinary problem-solving; unhelpful, restrictive internal policies and procedures discouraging or frustrating academicians' attempts to collaborate with industry. Suggested measures • Of the three major systems in academia — CSIR laboratories, IITs and universities — the first two are distinctly stronger in terms of management, resources, expertise and reputation. They should, therefore, co-opt reputed university departments as partners in all major research and consultancy projects • Research and consultancy should be as a value-adding activity • At the annual conferences, industries as well as academics should make presentations on academia's problem-solving, research and consultancy capabilities • Identify areas where academia can help industries. Some thoughts are: enhanced oil recovery, reservoir modeling, development of exploration and technology capabilities to explore and exploit gas hydrates Some ice-breaking initiatives would be beneficial to both: •Academia to employ practicing professionals from industry as part-time guest faculty and/or constituting a Research Chair •Academia to offer short-term courses for professionals in industry, as this is a safe, inexpensive trial interaction for them •Academia to take up specific industry problems •Industry to support to basic research for knowledge creation •Industry to participate in technology development involving exploratory work •Industry to provide summer trainings/project for UG/PG students and research scholars in industry •Industry to offer research projects to academia including research fellowships or Post-doctoral fellowships on topics of their interests •Industry to encourage their personnel to take up projects in Academia which are of interests to their employers Industry-Academia Interaction at IIT Kharagpur • IIT Kharagpur gave major thrust in Academia-Industry interaction by establishing a Science & Technology Entrepreneur Park (STEP) in August, 1987 with support from DST New Delhi, DST West Bengal, IDBI, IFCI, ICICI Some Examples of Fruitful Industry-Academia Interactions at IIT KGP • VLSI = funded by software giants to develop softwares, IT utilities, etc. • Technology Incubation & Entrepreneur Training Society (TIETS) • MicroElectroMechanical Systems (MEMS) – started with funded from Texas Instruments, etc. • Vodafone – IIT KGP Center of Excellence for Telecommunication • Steel Technology Center – started this year with funds from DST, Ministry of Steel & Mines, TATA Steels, SAIL No major beginning with Hydrocarbon Giants, yet • The only collaboration between GG Dept and Industry is summer training and placements of students in the companies. But more needs to be done. • For Industry’s benefit, possibility of collaboration may be explored with potential participating Departments of IIT Kharagpur - Geology & Geophysics, Chemical Engg., Mining Engg., Ocean Engg. & Naval Architecture, Mechanical Engg., Electrical Engg., etc.
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