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HindustanTimes Thu,17 Apr 2014
Defining the research agenda
Proyashi Barua , Hindustan Times
New Delhi, February 05, 2013
First Published: 12:31 IST(5/2/2013)
Last Updated: 12:36 IST(5/2/2013)

A faculty with clearly defined research agendas is an asset for any academic institution. For the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), the focus on research has perhaps never been as pronounced as it is today. The upcoming faculty recruitment drive, the recently introduced technology upgradation and the research mandate given to existing faculty are all geared up to achieve this end.

While research efficacy was always a prerequisite for faculty selection, the added stress on  this area (in relation to other selection parameters) today is unprecedented. Individual members of the existing faculty have to scale up the number of papers that they had been annually submitting till now. The recent launch of BITSConnect 2.0, which includes sophisticated features like tele-presence, high-definition video conferencing and live streaming technologies, is meant to facilitate collaboration among faculty, students, industry partners and alumni for research. In addition, academicians from across the world will be able to leverage the exhaustive tele-presence and provide mentorship for projects undertaken across BITS campuses in Pilani, Goa, Hyderabad and Dubai.

The research heritage of this deemed university, set up in the 1940s under the aegis of the Birla Education Trust, has a clear interdisciplinary flavour. This can at one level be attributed to the fact that the university is actually a trinity of three colleges — College of Science, College of Engineering and College of Arts. “In fact, it is among the oldest universities, not just in the country but across the world, that pioneered research interface between mathematics, science and the gamut of social sciences,” says Ishwara Bhatt, a senior librarian and public relations officer at BITS Pilani.   
  
USP: BITS is widely acknowledged in academic circles for its ‘practice school’ programme, which is nothing but an industry internship programme for undergraduate students. But this programme is different from the industry internship programmes of other universities and institutions by sheer dint of its duration — 25 weeks. 

Programmes: The university offers integrated first degree courses such as BE (hons), BPharm (hons), MSc (hons) and MSc (tech). Its higher degree programmes include ME, MPharm and MBA. In addition, it also offers PhD or doctoral level programmes. 
 
Infrastructure: The institution prides itself on its sprawling 240-acre campus in Pilani. State-of-the-art convention centres, well-stocked libraries, separate hostels for males and females with high bandwidth internet connectivity, expansive playing grounds, canteens that serve reasonably priced meals (till 2.30am) and dedicated Nescafe outlets broadly constitute the infrastructure across campuses.

Faculty: The institute has a faculty of approximately 700-plus members, 65% of whom command PhD degrees.

Placements: Many students secure placement offers while pursuing their industry internship programmes. A significant chunk of these companies are multinationals and Fortune 500 companies. But interestingly, almost 30% of students decline these offers and go on to pursue higher education and research in their specific fields or pursue entrepreneurship.
    
Clubs and societies: The institute has a Hindi/English drama clubs, Hindi/English press clubs, a mime club and English/Hindi language activities societies. In addition to these, the institute runs several health clubs, etc. Oasis in Pilani, Waves in Goa and Pearl in Hyderabad are the annual cultural festivals. A voluntary organisation, NIRMAAN, started by BITSians a few years ago, now has many centres in the country and works in various projects for the poor.

Factfile
Birla Institute of Technology and Science began as an institute with Dr G D Birla as founder chairman in the year 1964. Benefiting from the Ford Foundation Grant, the

institution was developed in association with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA

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