Infrastructure is important for a good B-school

  • Ravishankar B Kommu, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: May 26, 2016 14:27 IST
British Prime Minister David Cameron delivering a lecture at IIM Calcutta. (Handout Image)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the famous American university hurriedly constructed a building within its premises in 1943 for conducting research on war. Since it was constructed in an unplanned manner, it was named Building 20 as the administration intended to rename it later. That, however, was never done. It is nevertheless crucial to the history of American scientific research and innovation as it is known that at one time more than 20% of the physicists in the United States, including nine Nobel laureates, had worked in that building. The story of Building 20 gives us an important insight into the role played by spaces and architecture in shaping human endeavours. Building 20 was important not just because of an eclectic mix of innovators, engineers and scientists coming together on its premises, but it also had architecture enabling an interaction between brilliant people leading to an explosion in scientific research.

IIM Calcutta was established by MIT’s Sloan School of Management in 1961. The first-ever IIM to be set up, IIM Calcutta, has a long history of students from diverse fields coming together and learning not only from its renowned faculty members but also from each other. Similarly, the highlight of pursuing a course at IIM Calcutta is group work. Students meet in groups for month-long projects in different parts of the campus. The state-of-the-art BC Roy Memorial Library is an important space that facilitates this activity.

Ravishankar B Kommu in a light-hearted mood at IIM Calcutta campus (Handout Image)

All classrooms are equipped with modern facilities which help teachers take recourse to different media while taking classes.The Finance and Trading Laboratory, the only one of its kind in India, keeps students and faculty members equipped with the most up-to-date databases and terminals required to carry out research. All hostels and academic zones are connected with high-speed broadband and WiFi, enabling students to circulate study materials, access library databases and work on their projects from anywhere on the campus. Doctoral students carry out research in the five laboratories. These are not only academic spaces, but also places where students share each other’s successes and failures and spaces where discussions on topics ranging from cinema to politics are held.

There are over 20 clubs on campus. The choreo club and the dramatics clubs hold practice sessions in the auditorium, which is an important cultural space. The institute’s lecture series is held as part of the two student-run fests Carpe Diem and Intaglio and various other activities are conducted in the auditorium.

More than the utility of these facilities, it is the relationship that students develop with these spaces that makes them indispensable. The campus located in Joka is fondly called Joka Management by students, staff and even bus conductors. Students associate themselves with the campus and its seven lakes and feel a sense of kinship with anyone who comes from Joka Management, even if they didn’t know them before. Infrastructure for an academic institution and especially for a B-school is not just about its intended use. Much like Building 20, these spaces are meant for the smartest people from across the country to come together and learn a lot more than what can be taught in a classroom.

The author is third-year FPM student at IIM Calcutta

Coordinated by Rozelle Laha

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