Central Instrumentation Fund: An ambitious venture or an underutilized opportunity?
Research and infrastructure go hand in hand. While research opportunities have blossomed with the advent of modern infrastructure, infrastructural and technical ideas require years of hard research to materialise. To promote better research work, National Institute Of Technology, Rourkela had established the Central Instrumentation Facility in May 2017.
Currently housed in the TIIR building, it aims to unify all high-end equipment under one system, thus paving the way to efficient management and utilization.
Each laboratory is under the supervision of a designated faculty member from the Institute. It is currently headed by Prof. Ritwik Sarkar, senior scientific officer Dr Smrutisikha Bal and technical assistant Mr Arindam Pal. A chosen team of faculty members are also a part of the organisation.
The CIF has its dedicated website that goes by the name CIF NIT Rourkela. It hosts information about the various people who are associated with the program, the facilities that are available under the scheme and the instruments which are available for use.
As specified by the website, there are 2 groups of users, internal and external. Internal users refer to the students of NIT Rourkela who can book an instrument by logging in to their respective NITRIS portals.
External users have to put in a request with the CIF to do the same. It lists down around 180 instruments available for use. Information about the model, manufacturer, in-charge, usage status and principle are also available. The website can only be accessed through LAN.
The facility remains open from 9 AM to 4 PM, Monday to Friday.
To understand the workings of CIF, we reached out to PhD scholars. Here is what they had to say :
After surveying with the PhD students, we found that around half of them were unsatisfied with the facility.
The facility is not yet full-fledged and still has a long way to go. Some of the common problems faced by the students who have used this facility were lack of technical staff and unavailability of all instruments under it. Another major issue faced by many was the lack of adequate slots and the dearth of slots in certain departments after a certain time.
We also got a few suggestions from the students with regards to the above problems. These included the recruitment of more lab technicians and staff to assist with the facility. Another suggestion was to consider the extension of slot timings for the facility in some departments. A feedback system to record the experience of students who use this facility would be helpful as it would help the institute and officials to know of the difficulties faced by students.
All in all, the CIF is a great initiative marred by a lot of shortcomings. If these are resolved, it would surely be a right step to boosting the research index of the institute.