A Memento Of The Bygone: NITR Entering Its Diamond Jubilee
Embracing your past is necessary to let yourself be guided into the future. Established in 1961, National Institute of Technology, Rourkela is one of our country's finest technical institutes. Continually maintaining an overall ranking in the top twenty institutions for technical education, NIT, Rourkela has carved a niche for itself, its students and all its stakeholders in technical education. Stone by stone, NIT Rourkela has grown from a single building housing everything to a mega facility that supports more than 6000 people including students, faculty and staff and now entering 60th year of its existence!
NIT Rourkela was established as Regional Engineering College (REC) Rourkela on the 15th of August 1961. The institute's campus is situated at the eastern end of Rourkela steel city, beyond Sector-1, over an area of 262 hectares of land provided by the visionary Chief Minister of Odisha, Biju Pattnaik. Its foundation stone was laid by the first Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. It now functions independently under the Ministry of Education (erstwhile MHRD), thus becoming one of the National Institutes of Technology.
Spearheading this revolution was a man who had proved his potential through his contributions to several governmental projects, notably one with the Hirakud Dam and another being an adviser for Liberia's technical education, the first principal and the founding patron of the Regional Engineering College, Rourkela, Prof. Bhubaneshwar Behera built this majestic campus from mud and rubble. It would be noteworthy to mention Prof. Somnath Mishra here, who joined in as the Principal in 1974(REC days) and is the longest-serving head of the institute.
The Stellar Departments
With twenty academic departments offering a wide range of courses designed to meet the industry and academia's current requirements, NIT, Rourkela has one of the nation's most diversified curricula.
Departments like Civil engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Electrical Engineering, Humanities and Social Sciences, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry were established since its inception. The Department of Metallurgical Engineering saw its outset in 1963. The Departments of, Chemical engineering, Life Sciences joined later. The 80s saw the emergence of Mining engineering. NIT Rourkela joined the digital revolution with the advent of the MCA course in 1983 and established Computer Science and Engineering in 1986. Others like the Ceramic Engineering department came to existence in 1994 while the latest establishments include the Department of Biotechnology and Medical Engineering, established in 2007 while the Food process engineering department was established in 2013. And with the advent of Departments of Architecture and School of Management, in the 2010s the institute turned to be a multidisciplinary house of knowledge.
Besides, there are six Academic Centres and nine Centres of Research, two of them recognised as Centres of Excellence by external Government agencies. The recent among them is the Poverty Alleviation Research Center (PARC).
The parent universities, first Utkal University and then Sambalpur University (the late 60s onwards) set the questions and awarded degrees. There were two mid-semester exams of 10 marks each which were followed by University exam of 80 marks. A significant milestone was achieved when the Academic Autonomy was granted in 1990. The institute was accredited as befitting to formulate its own question paper and consequently correct the answer scripts. Although the degree was still awarded by the University, the day-to-day activities came under the governance of an autonomous Board of Governors like the IITs.
The ’90s were a period of transition. The setting up of a Training and Placement Cell, followed by introducing a mandatory 8-week internship, made sure that students were prepared for real-world challenges. They were also benefited a great deal from the advent of the IT industry, which generated many opportunities. Besides, the policy of ‘Direct Admission to Foreign Nationals’ saw students from all over the subcontinent add to the vibrant campus life.
First computers during the ‘80s revolution
The great year of transformation (1995) saw major changes creeping in. With mic equipped classrooms with projectors, classes became 'smarter'. Classes were reduced to 5 days a week, keeping with the educational trends of reduced, intensive contact hours.
After 2002, ‘Moodle’ was introduced to augment the learning process. However, now the CGPA played a less prominent yardstick of performance than the percentages did in the yesteryears. Under the purview of extracurricular merits, NITR grew into a platform to inculcate all-round development.
NIT Rourkela’s Big Bang
REC Rourkela was granted autonomy in 2002 and came to be known as NIT Rourkela since then. Now it functions independently under the Ministry of Human Resource Development (presently Ministry of Education) thus becoming one of the National Institutes of Technology. Under Dr Sunil Kumar Sarangi's (first Director of NIT Rourkela after it gained autonomy) leadership, who served for almost thirteen years in two and a half terms, the Regional Engineering College was transformed into National Institute of Technology. He was also one among the pioneers to bring several infrastructural developments and research contributions at NIT Rourkela. The NIT Act was drafted and passed in 2007, and the quality of graduates and research scholars grew leaps and bounds.
Massive infrastructural developments in the Central Library were made in 2014-2015. The ground floor was completely renovated with the establishment of a security desk and information KIOSK. Finally, BPCL could boast of central air-conditioning and spacious reading halls with an accommodating capacity of 250 students.
Library during the ‘90s
In a bid to boost Research and Development (R&D) activities, the Centralised Instrumentation Facility (CIF) was linked with the I-STEM portal for pan-India accessibility in the same year. The portal - Indian Science, Technology and Engineering Facilities Map (I-STEM) - launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently serves as a gateway for researchers to locate and access specific facilities they need for their R&D work.
2013 saw the start of construction of the Golden Jubilee Building. After almost 7 years, 2020 saw the completion of the pending construction of the golden jubilee building and the installation of modern amenities, which was inaugurated virtually by Union Education Minister, Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’.
2020 saw unprecedented events that deemed most of the prior teaching methods as mundane. To make classroom lectures flawless and easily accessible, NIT Rourkela unveiled its plans by introducing the latest high-functioning upgrades to Lecture Hall Complex II.
SAC: The epicentre of students’ energy
The revamp of REC to NIT led to the formation of an independent body that catered to students' extracurricular needs. Earlier during the 90s, the students started contributing to society graciously through several NCC, NSS and Rotaract Club programs.
The Student Activity Centre also got a make-over much like most of the campus. The SAC societies like the AV (Audio-Visual) Association changed to the Film and Music Society and the Cultural Society to Literary and Cultural Society. The Technical Society and the Sports societies were add-ons to SAC, considering students' growing passion towards these fields.
The mushrooming of several clubs have been on a roll since 2008. New clubs were formed under the societies that pampered different aims and objectives.
Much necessary equipment like copier machines, AC, display boards, chairs and a new water purifier was installed. Also, things like the construction of a girls' washroom and that too, with sanitary napkins, were built.
Life at NIT Rourkela: The Fests!
Started in the 90s, student life thrived with the initiation of annual festivals like ‘Spring Time’, organized at the end of February, where crowds swayed with rock bands. Commenced in 2005, NITRUTSAV- the literary and cultural fest of NIT Rourkela, continued to attract the gusto of the students from travelling miles just to witness the cultural carousel.
With its inception in 2004, the techno-management fest, then called Confluence, first organized by the Technical Society involved various technical events, competitions, exhibitions and workshops which became an annual phenomenon in the subsequent years. In 2011, Confluence was renamed 'Innovision', which is now ‘the largest of its kind’ in the region.
The 2010s also saw the advent of a popular in-house fest ‘Multi-Ethnic Fest’ which was discontinued after 2016. However, 2018 saw the emerging Cosmopolitan which brings the diverse linguistic and cultural crowd of NIT Rourkela under one roof! Besides this the annual sports fest, Vriddhi has also been the preferred competition for our contemporaries.
NIT Rourkela was the proud organizer of the 6th and 9th editions of the NIT Conclave in 2016 and 2019. The three-day-long event fostered numerous trailblazing events that provided another dimension to the perspective of people of various NITs to think and analyze meticulously upon the various issues faced by different NITs, with specific discussions on the fixed agendas.
Hostels: The cradle of students
As the Institute secured its position in the national and worldwide rankings, NIT Rourkela became the first preference of the students in India and students staying abroad showed interest in studying here. As the students surged in, more number of hostels were built to accommodate the students.
Milestones in Campus Development
The dispensary near the KMS Hall of Residence was upgraded into an in-house computerized pharmacy. In addition to these glass doors and panels were installed in messes for the transparency and maintaining hygiene standards. Moreover, the Guest House was revamped into two Guesthouses. The luxurious South Block and North Block Guesthouse were made to accommodate more guests, serve quality food and preserve the ambience.
In 2013, one of the costliest equipment, the orbital shaker, was bought, which kept the food sample at a particular temperature and could also be used in microbiological tests. Another essential instrument was the texture analyzer which analysed the cohesiveness and springiness of food material.
2017 saw the installation of CCTV cameras at various locations on the campus premises. In the first phase, 31 cameras were installed, and this number was then increased to 41. The areas being covered included the LA lawns, the library entrances, the BBA foyer, institute gates and almost all the hostel entrances.
The Organic Farming project behind VS and SD Halls of Residence was kick-started on the 28th of January, 2019. The Solar Panels were installed on the roofs of NIT’s buildings on the 4th of March, the same year. A 1,020 KWp (Kilowatt peak) rooftop solar power plant was installed on campus to harness the renewable energy source's potential in June 2019.
All work and no play make Jack a dull boy. The administration has taken well care of this. So, the early 90s saw a beaming phase of renaissance within the campus. A full-fledged stadium was built to provide a platform to the sporting enthusiasts, which is now known as the Dilip Tirkey Stadium (DTS). Currently, a humongous amount of 40 crores has been allocated to construct an extravagant indoor sports complex.
NITRIS-The advent of digitalized NITR
In 2004, an indigenous ‘Automation Cell’ was formed. Portals were prepared for almost everything starting from registration, examination and ancillary portals like estate services. By 2008, everything was already online. The e-thesis was started in 2014. The automated system helped a lot in tracking, generating reports for all kinds of issues and faster reprisal. Soon, NITR also incorporated Webmail, NITRIS and Software Vaults to communicate and access resources easier. In this process, even elections were automated, and now we are here with a complete revamped NITRIS portal.
Taking care of the Institute’s mental health
In 2016, to help the first-year students sail smoothly through the first few months of college life, Student Mentorship Program was launched, which further gave way to an exclusive cell known as Student Counselling Cell. A noble initiative by the current Director, Prof Animesh Biswas, it caters to the newbies' needs and worries and the mentors of senior years ensure their progress in different spheres of the institute. In 2019, to take care of the faculties and staff at NIT Rourkela, the counselling services were extended to Institute Counselling Services (ICS). It addresses Academic, Financial, Mental and Socio-cultural issues, ensuring a seamless transition from home to hostel life for the freshmen and making life at NITR more enjoyable.
Tryst with Business and Innovation
National Institute of Technology - Rourkela’s Foundation for Technology Business Incubation (FTBI) has scripted a success story by giving wings to 31 start-ups in the last three years. The start-ups have already notched a combined annual turnover of about Rs 21 crore.
NIT Rourkela is all set to contribute a small part to nation-building by bringing its faculty and students closer to industry. It aims to create an environment where hundreds of professors and thousands of students will carry out research on subjects directly relevant to and funded by industry. The establishment of the Centre for Technology Innovation and Industry Relations (TIIR) is an effort in that direction. Inaugurated by none other than Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, major Industrial houses are invited to set up their own specialized R&D facilities on NIT Rourkela premises to exploit the massive human resource of the Institute.
The flagbearers of this legacy- Alumni
NIT Rourkela Alumni Association (NITRAA) has always been around. It all started back in 1965-66 when NITRAA was called the Old Boys Association. A constitution was framed, according to which the President was the Principal.
But slowly, the association had become non-functional except a prevailing local chapter that called themselves ‘The Rengcolians’. After a struggle, the association was revived in 1998. Meanwhile, the erstwhile chief minister, Biju Pattnaik announced that 30% of engineering colleges' seats should be reserved for girls. This led to the renaming of the Old Boys’ Association as REC Rourkela Alumni Association.
In 2002, REC was upgraded to National Institute of Technology, so did the RECRAA became NITRAA (National Institute of Technology, Rourkela- Alumni Association)
In the past years, there has been a lot of renewed activity and effort to improve the relationship between the institute, alumni and the students. Various alumni have been visiting the institute and collaborations are being developed on different fronts.
In nearly six decades of its glorious history, the alumni of NIT, Rourkela have probably written every success story imaginable and in the process have left a bright and blazing trail for their alma mater.
Other Notable alumni who have brought glory to the institute are-
- Akash Khurana- An Indian actor, screenwriter, theatre artist and entrepreneur.
- Ranjan Dash- Founder & CTO, Y-Carbon, USA.
- Debasish Ghose- Chair, Department of Aerospace, IISc (2012–15) and Convener, Space Technology Cell (STC), ISRO-IISc. Visiting Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles for nearly 4 years.
- Balabhadra Majhi – An Indian politician who was elected to the 16th Lok Sabha in 2014 from Nabarangpur constituency in Odisha. He is a member of the Bhartiya Janta Party since 2019.
- Amaresh Tripathy- Senior VP and Global Business Leader at Genpact.
- Arup Guhathakurta- VP Global Transformations, HSBC.
- Mahesh Bulchandani- CEO and Director, FinIQ Europe at FinIQ Consulting Pvt. Ltd.
- Rahaju Pal- Global Director- Cyber and Information Security Audit at Citi.
- Suchitra Maurya- Deputy General Manager, Reserve Bank of India
- Stuti Shukla- CMO, GE Healthcare
…..and many more
NITROAA- Alumni Relations Overseas
National Institute of Technology (NIT), Rourkela Overseas Alumni Association, abbreviated as NITROAA, is a non-profit organization for alumni of the NIT Rourkela, Odisha, India, who are currently living in North America (USA & Canada). The organization works to advance the educational and social well-being of the alumni, current students, faculty and the alma mater by providing direct assistance, scholarships or knowledge exchange opportunities as appropriate.
The NITR Overseas Alumni Association (NITROAA), officially incorporated in the USA in 2014, organizes the alumni in USA and Canada. Besides advancing social and professional networking among overseas alumni and supporting graduate students, NITROAA has led many initiatives to benefit NITR, such as Student Scholarships, Chair Professorships, Research and Travel grants.
NITROAA recently launched its 'Internship and Mentoring Program' to help its student members present in the USA and Canada. More details about this program can be found here.
Way-forward to the Diamond Jubilee
One among the several times when the institute has been the a major element of national progress include the time of communal violence in 1964, when it had sheltered hundreds of victims for a number of days and had got an appreciation letter from the President.
Upon looking back to those glorious 60 years and feeling proud about how magnificently the institute has evolved and stands tall yet unparalleled. Several celebrations have also been planned across the year to commemorate the diamond jubilee.
This won’t be a single day or a two-day programme, rather it will constitute a series of programmes and events that would be organised all throughout the year.
The Hon'ble President of India will also be a part of this cherishing moment as the Chief Guest of an event. The Vision 2025 will also be put into force amidst the celebration. The major area of concern lies with the development of the eight pillars. Enhancement of research activities is one among them which is the primary area of focus. That is what can take us on the path of emerging as a top-level institute in the nation. The mission lies with how to implement the plans by procuring money from various sources.
The Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) loan would be used in the establishment of another Student Activity Centre (SAC) (earlier termed as Indoor Stadium). Funds have also been allocated to purchase high-end equipment that can upgrade the institute’s research capabilities. The institute has gracefully overcome all the challenges over all these years and many more are yet to come.
No matter what, the institute will strive to rise and shine and advance to spread knowledge in science and technology, leading to the creation of wealth and welfare of humanity.