Scaling the New Horizons: Director's Desk
With the dawn of the new academic year, Team MM met with the honourable Director, Prof. Animesh Biswas where he shared his plans for the upcoming semesters and updated us on the existing projects and programs. Monday Morning discussed various problems persisting in the campus and tried to get the queries cleared. Excerpts from the interview are given below:
MM: There had been a discrepancy regarding fee waiver; the ones who have fee waiver were served with a full bill and this continued till the last date of fee payment. Webmail citing such issue and any updates on it was not sent. Don’t you feel the concerned students should be updated about the matter?
AB: This was a pressing issue until the last hour of its mitigation for sure. However, I feel that the Assistant Registrar will be a better authority to account for this discrepancy.
MM: What is the status of Railway Concession form? When can we expect the procedures regarding the same to start?
AB: It will probably take some time because it has to be done under the official registry. We have already discussed this with the registrars, and the work is in progress. I will let you know about the status once I consider it with them.
MM: The Golden Jubilee Building and the new Mechanical department were expected to be finished by the end of July. What is the progress on them?
AB: Yes, it was supposed to be finished by July. We are told by SPPL officials that civil construction of Golden Jubilee Building will be completed by December 2018. The new Mechanical Department will be operational in the next few months. Meanwhile, the Golden Jubilee building will tentatively be functional from next July, once the installation of Air Conditioners in the building is taken care of.
MM: When can we expect the CCD to run on the campus?
AB: The MoU has been already signed, and we are negotiating with the company to set up the unit at the earliest. The layout plan is under consideration, and it will be approved soon. Prof. K.C. Biswal from the Department of Civil Engineering is the PIC for this project. I believe he will be able to give you the latest updates on the progress.
MM: As decided earlier, the extra Rs.2500 collected for hostel seat rent would be reimbursed from this semester, but it didn’t happen. Strangely, the students paid the hiked price this semester too. Why does this discrepancy occur?
AB: The Board has approved the current fee plan. We cannot reimburse the hostel seat rent. It is not under our jurisdiction. The students who didn’t pay the residual 2500 would have to somehow adjust the same in future fee payments. We are also looking for ways to recover money from students who have already left the institute.
MM: In an earlier interview, you shared your plans on subjects like national level mess catering tender and a centralised menu. What is the progress on this plan?
AB: I have constituted a committee to work over this plan. We have also introduced e-procurement process. This plan will make the tendering process transparent, and hence reduce discrepancies. After discussing with our legal advisors, we plan to quote the service tender only, thus, leaving the workforce allotment to the vendor. This arrangement would benefit the local labour as well as help us cut down expenditure. The committee handling this, headed by Prof. Japes Bera, is also considering if we could have a basic menu and keep provision for paid speciality dishes – as followed by many of the reputed colleges.
I have directed the committee members to take the students’ opinion into consideration before finalizing any plan for the tender. We will conduct a survey, probably a poll analysis through Monday Morning, measure the response of the students and find a suitable plan.
MM: In an earlier interview, you talked about making LA-I air-conditioned entirely. What is the progress on it? Why aren’t ACs installed in laboratories of individual departments?
AB: Instead of making it centrally air-conditioned, we have decided to provide tower ACs in the rooms. Currently, 28 tower ACs have been installed in select locations like the three computer labs and some classrooms. Central air conditioning would take time because it is a massive project. However, LA-II will be centrally air-conditioned. As far as the individual departments are concerned, they will have to use their department budget for AC in their laboratories. It is up to the respective HoDs.
MM: NITR’s outreach centre in Bhubaneswar has been in talks for a while now. What are the updates on its progress?
AB: The system of funding by MHRD has been changed. We are entitled to get money through HEFA (Higher Educational Financial Agency) loan to execute new projects like outreach centre, laboratory developments, indoor stadium/sports complex, a 500 seater girls’ hostel and other equipment for research work. This is one of our priorities, and we are working on it.
MM: How has been the alumni response in the past year? What measures are being taken to improve the alumni relations?
AB: We have been doing reasonably well regarding alumni relations. I am glad to share that two chair professors’ fundings worth Rs.1 crore each, have been contributed by our alumni. They have come up with good scholarships scheme for the students of the college whose availing procedures will be started very soon. To get more details on this, students can contact Dean (Alumni Relations). They have planned to coordinate for ETBI incubation programs to encourage start-ups in the state of Odisha. Prof. Shantanu Behera is designated to coordinate these matters. I have been invited by NITROAA to present the activities being undertaken in the institute that will strengthen our ties. They have started a new initiative, named NITROAA-DAAN, where alumni will voluntarily contribute money where we expect to pull in about Rs.200 Crores by 2020 and approximately Rs.500 Crores by 2025. We are planning to sign a MoU with the University of California at Davis for technical interactions between faculty and students as well.
MM: What is the support provided currently for undergraduate research funding and its facilities?
AB: We have always encouraged research programs by the students, and for now, anybody can personally approach me, but we need to formalise the processes very soon to promote such activities at a larger scale. For example, we have supported the Team Tiburon who brought laurels to the college by their performance in Singapore.
MM: There has been talk of making the dispensary open round the clock. Will that be accomplishable within this academic year?
AB: The concerned Board has approved for the appointment of additional doctors, but we are still waiting for the MHRD approval. We have put on advertisements for the appointment of the doctors to make the dispensary open for 7-days a week. This has been one of my prime objectives and will be accomplished soon.
MM: The latest curriculum revision introduced minor degrees for students in their sophomore year. How will be the minor degree helpful in their career and further placement?
AB: In today’s world the knowledge cannot be compartmentalised. Students need to know the different aspects of various specialisations to tackle the needs of the modern industries/technologies. This would be a positive step in diversifying their knowledge officially where they can enrich their knowledge from various integrated branches.
MM: There have been cases of more than 60 institute outs and 120 year- backs this year even after measures like remedial classes and SCP. What are your views on it?
AB: The evaluation process is entirely under the prerogative of the professors, and I will not be able to comment on this. We have presented various cases in the Senate where we saw cases that need sympathy and considerations. We need to understand the psychological and emotional aspects of the students as well. The teaching and learning process has been strengthened as compared to earlier, and I plan to enforce the counselling services even more actively. We hope for betterments concerning academics in the upcoming years.
MM: What will be your message to the entire NITR Junta for this academic year?
AB: I feel the mantra has been the same “Work hard, enjoy life without disturbing others and stay cheerful”. Following these principles will bring you success, happiness and peace. I wish all the best for this academic year and hope we have a better and prosperous year ahead.