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IIT-Delhi’s Covid response a model of how engineering, tech can help in public crisis: President Murmu

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Speaking at the closing ceremony of IIT-Delhi’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations Saturday, President Droupadi Murmu said the institute’s research and development projects in the early stages of the pandemic is “a model of how engineering and technology institutions can play a role in a public health crisis “.

“Such institutions often run the risk of existing in isolation, as ivory towers. That is why it is all the more heartening to note that IIT-Delhi has always seen itself as part of the larger community and it has been extra sensitive to its responsibility towards society… Rising to the challenge of containing the virus, the institute initiated important research and development projects… rapid antigen test kits, PPEs, antimicrobial fabrics, high-efficiency face masks and low-cost ventilators, among other things. IIT-Delhi’s contribution to India’s fight against Covid has been a model of how engineering and technology institutions too can play a role in a public health crisis. The glorious past of this institute gives us an assurance that it will play a crucial role in the future as India enters the Amrit Kaal,” she said.

She also encouraged students and researchers to look for solutions to environmental challenges. “Looking towards 2047, climate change poses a serious challenge. As a developing country with a high population base, our energy requirement for economic growth is very high. Hence, we need to shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy. India, as you are aware, has taken a praiseworthy lead in the international stage to promote solar energy. In the years to come, as the world anxiously looks for technological solutions to environmental challenges, I trust India’s young engineers and scientists will help mankind achieve a breakthrough,” she said.

The President inaugurated the institute’s Research and Innovation Park, the stated aim of which is to facilitate interactions between the institute, entrepreneurs and government agencies “to accelerate research translation, provide avenues for the institute’s students and faculty to interact more closely with industry and bring to market technological breakthroughs”.

Tracing the growth of the institute over 60 years, Director Rangan Banerjee noted that it has grown from an average of 400 graduates per year to 2,500 graduates in recent years, that it has transitioned to a predominantly postgraduate institute, and that its gender diversity has improved with 29% women students now.

Banerjee quoted the example of 2016 graduate Anu Meena as an example of the institute’s “transformational educational experience”. “… she came from a small village, Manoli in Rajasthan, studied in her village school in Hindi until the 8th class — she succeeded in qualifying the JEE in 2011 and joined the Integrated B.Tech and MTech program in Biotechnology and Biochemical Engineering. She was a first-generation graduate and flourished at IIT-Delhi. In 2014, she was the sportswoman of the year and graduated in 2016. In 2018, she was recognized as a ‘Forbes 30 under 30 Asia’ for her startup. Today her company, Agrowave, touches farmers’ lives,” he said.