NITROAA's Boston Convention: Celebrating Women In Leadership

NITROAA's Boston Convention: Celebrating Women In Leadership

Saumya Sinha Naman Agrawal | Oct 14, 2019

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Over several decades NIT Rourkela has fulfilled the dreams of many students who have graduated so far. Our alumni have distinguished themselves in almost every field as technocrats, bureaucrats, scientists, entrepreneurs, and bestowed their talents in building modern India as well as made their mark abroad.

National Institute of Technology (NIT), Rourkela Overseas Alumni Association, abbreviated as NITROAA, is a non-profit organization for alumni of NIT Rourkela, Odisha, India, who are currently living in North America. They have laid the foundation of NITROAA Conventions which thrives upon bringing NIT Rourkela to new heights by shouldering Student Scholarships and Faculty Research Grants. The dream convention started a few years ago which gave birth to another convention with some old and some new events. If last year it was at San Francisco, home to a little bit of everything, this year’s convention matched the legacy and was held at the beautiful Boston, the birthplace of the Historic American Revolution. For the first time, the NITROAA convention was dedicated to celebrating Women in Leadership. 

The "Boston Convention" was a three-day memorable event and was the one no alumni certainly wanted to miss. The event was the culmination of an enormous collective effort of the Convention team. The Boston Convention team consisted of:

  1. Balaji Sundara ( NIT Rourkela, 1991)
  2. Vineet Agarwal ( NIT Rourkela, 2000)
  3. Madu Narahari ( NIT Rourkela, 1989)
  4. Dr. Kannan Vembu ( NIT Rourkela, 1973)
  5. Krishna P. ( NIT Rourkela, 1990)
  6. Seema Sundara ( NIT Rourkela, 1991)
  7. Karamveer Singh ( NIT Rourkela, 2000)
  8. Manideepa Chatterjee ( NIT Rourkela, 2003)
  9. Abinash Sahu ( NIT Rourkela, 2000)
  10. Ansuman Bose ( NIT Rourkela, 2000)
  11. Ajay Dubey ( NIT Rourkela, 2001)
  12. Sanjay Chatterjee ( NIT Rurkela, 1993)
  13. Somnath Mukherjee ( NIT Rourkela, 1996)
  14. Deba Sahoo ( NIT Rourkela, 2002)
  15. Chinmoy Mohapatra ( NIT Rourkela, 2011)
  16. Manas Kar ( NIT Rourkela, 2003)

It was an event where over 100 Alumni from NITR’s first batch in 1965 to current 2019 graduates, crossed paths once again to learn from each other, discuss trending topics, listen to inspiring speakers, have fun and spend an amazing weekend with old and new friends. The Annual meeting reunited members from more than 10 countries in Boston, for three unforgettable days of knowledge sharing, enriching workshops and cultural events at the Hotel Westin, Waltham, MA.



The three-day convention from August 30th to September 1st marked its beginning with the registration process followed by dinner at Hotel Westin in Waltham, MA. Dinner proceeded with more stories and fellowship filling in the air! Alumni along with their families could be found taking pictures, selfies, group shots and videos trying to capture the NITR spirit of excellence that surrounded them. All excitement culminated at an energy-filled song and dance session that continued till late in the night


With the dawn of the refreshing day 2 of the 6th annual convention, the members were replenished with maximum eagerness and fondness and were invited to a special Bollywood cardio workout with the teacher - Nivedita Bal that got all their hearts pumping and their souls refreshed and happy. The breakfast was immediately followed by registration and check-in at The Westin. With a refreshing start to the day, a welcome note by the Convention Team followed by the opening address by NITROAA President welcomed all the members to set the ball rolling.

The convention started with the speaker series by well-known personalities. The keynote was delivered by Dr. Venkat Srinivasan, Serial Entrepreneur, MD Innospark Ventures, followed by NIT Innovator’s Special by Prachi Sahoo, Instaleap and Ram Dutt, CEO, Meylah.

Dr. Venkat’s presentation provided a comprehensive insight into Artificial Intelligence(AI) and offered an ideal rundown on AI, where he focused on five aspects of Artificial Intelligence – What, How, Why, Where and When. Beginning with a brief introduction to AI, the focus shifted towards Intelligence acquisition. Then he recognized AI opportunities and the presentation also listed examples of AI in different fields and identified some challenges in AI technology.

Prachi Sahoo, a co-founder, told them about INSTALEAP, a professional help network where members get professional advice from experts. It is a no-nonsense, spam-free conversational platform that an individual can turn to when they need help in life. Instaleap focuses on continuous learning, networking, and getting real-time on-demand help. It may help in job search, provide career change advice, discuss problems and get them a solution from those who have solved it already. There are three groups namely:

  • AI/Machine Learning
  • Autism
  • Migration to Canada

Ram Dutt briefed about what is Meylah and spoke about US tourism.

Tourism still has plenty of room to grow. Smart City tourism offers a smart itinerary planner, smart parking, online retailing, and Wi-Fi access to tourists, citizens and visitors increasing tourism commerce and local economic prosperity by optimizing the tourist experience and safety.

He then continued and spoke about Speaker Engage which is a fully integrated cloud-based platform with the speaker, sponsor and community curation with centralized content management powered by seamless workflow automation.

He also shared his entrepreneurship learnings which are a result of year-long experiences and perspicacious. They have been listed below:

  • Experience the pain to develop the solution.
  • Solve a burning need.
  • Build a recurring business model.
  • Invest in a World-class team.
  •  Ask for access to markets and investments.
  • Build go to market partnerships-hyperscalers and communities.


The series continued with other distinguished speakers and panel discussions.   

Breaking Barriers - Women Panel Sessions

The panel featured Dr. Rama Bansil (Professor Emeritus at Boston University as Professor of Physics), Dr. Lakshmi Balachandra (Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at Babson College) and Latha Mangipudi (Politician, member of New Hampshire House of Representatives). Pooja Basu (NITR batch 2003, Sr. Manager at Fidelity Investments) moderated the panel.

During the session, an influential panel shared frank and humorous experiences from their business and personal endeavors. 

Dr. Rama highlighted that we have come a long way from no maternity leaves in the 1960s to today, where many companies offer 12 weeks of maternity leaves. She advocated that corporations need to recognize women not just as workers, but also as mothers. Much work in this field remains to be done until we get to a place where maternity leaves are not considered a disability.

Thereafter the panel shed light on female entrepreneurship. On paper, things have never looked better for female entrepreneurs but the numbers only tell part of the story. The hurdles faced by the women who have embraced entrepreneurship are still vast and often very different than those experienced by their male counterparts - to create the need for promoters of the gender empowerment agenda.  

Dr. Lakshmi founded the Women’s Venture Capital Network, the first network of its kind in the country where she organized, created and managed numerous networking events and educational panels for women professionals in the industry.

Later on, a very interesting topic came on the table - the need for more women leaders in politics.

The panel emphasized the fact that the full and equal political participation of women is a prerequisite for democratic governance and is necessary for the nation's success. Diversity and inclusion in a nation's political demography are very important.

The session concluded on a sunny side and the panel reminded us that "every small step in the right direction counts", telling all women to be fearless, embrace vulnerability, and empower others around them.

Artificial Intelligence Panel Session

The panel featured three distinguished NIT Rourkela Alumni who shared their perspectives and experiences on how Artificial Intelligence is impacting and expected to impact both business and government landscape. The distinguished alumni were

Deba Sahoo: SVP, Head of Product for Employer Journeys at Fidelity Investments, NIT Rourkela 2002

S K Reddy: VP, Data Science Practice Lead at Fidelity Investments, NIT Rourkela 1989

Dr. Prakash Pattnaik: Director at National Research Council, Canada, NIT Rourkela 1976

 The panel was again brilliantly moderated by Pooja Basu(NIT Rourkela, 2003).

S K Reddy shared many stories and perspectives on how AI is expected to impact the world of education, childcare, finance & investing. He shared his experiences in driving AI products & initiatives at bot large corporations and start-ups. He sees AI dramatically impacting the world in almost every facet of our lives and shared his bold & promising vision behind AI impacting our world. He is a regular speaker on AI & Data Science events & forums and his past speeches at various events can be viewed on youtube.

Deba Sahoo shared his perspective on “Applied AI”, a business leader and practitioner’s approach to AI. Thinking beyond the hype behind AI, he shared his realistic perspective on biggest challenges to successfully applying AI to drive business value: the shortage of talent, yet to be matured models on implementing AI, lack of strong business leaders who understand AI & can lead implementation. According to him, implementing AI solutions to generate business & customer value goes beyond data science & data and we need more discussion and research to mature our approach to implementing AI. 

Dr. Prakash shared his experience & perspective on how AI is being applied in defense, aerospace, sustainability & government landscape. He brought a very different perspective on how various use cases using AI. Overall, it was an intellectually stimulating panel session and the discussion covered additional topics such as the impact of AI on jobs, how to think of career paths in AI and what is real vs. what is hype in the world of AI. 

General Body Meeting - NITROAA

The NITROAA had its 6th annual general meeting at Emerson Room where the NITROAA members met to talk about the efforts, work, and objectives of NITROAA.

The meeting started with the board welcoming all its members. They made the alumni familiar with the formation of NITROAA and also mentioned that it is a membership-based organization. Currently, NITROAA has an eleven-member board with a four-member EC elected for a two-year term.

Thereafter the mission statement was presented in front of the members providing a template for decision-making, shape strategy and forms the basis for alignment. The members were also made acquainted with the activities, the programs in contemplation of those missions. NITROAA ensured that there is alignment between the mission and current programs and activities. The mission is to enhance NITR through programs that enhance the students and faculty experience, promote NITR-NITROAA interaction, establish a spirit of loyalty to the institute and be a resource center in assisting talented technical graduates in coming to the US for further higher studies 

Beyond your Imagination: VISION 2025

This robust Alumni community is critical to the institute's continued success. With this in mind, NITROAA created NITR VISION 2025. Vision 2025 is a strategic vision and goal to make NITR an internationally acclaimed institution of higher learning, research, and innovation. The board members discussed the implementation of the idea and also took note of steps to accelerate the implementation of key measures envisaged in the vision. This part of the Boston Convention holds special significance as it's an attempt to document the future realistic goal to emerge as a leading technical institute of the country.

The meeting was followed by a vote of thanks by Anshuman Bose, NIT Rourkela 2000 where he thanked the alumni for gracing the event with their presence and also the handover to the Dallas team for 2020 convention.

Bidding Adieu- Day 3

The last day of the convention kicked off with the continental breakfast at the Westin Lobby followed by a Boston Duck Tour. The convention came to an end with the lunch, making another NITROAA convention a huge success.

The record-breaking convention attendance in North America East Coast has set a new threshold to beat and exciting challenges to future conventions. Overall the Annual reunion promised to be an amazing time of fun, food, friends, and nostalgia and provided a platform to network and engage with alumni. Event success is never possible without the effort and initiative of each and every member of the team. Boston Convention 2019 wouldn't have been possible had it not been for the help the conduit received.

Goodbye Boston, Hello Dallas!!

Team MM extends its heartiest congratulations to the Boston Convention Team for conducting the 6th Annual Convention and wishes luck for their future endeavors.



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