Updates from the PG Academic Council, 2010-11
The Post Graduate Academic Council (PGAC) of 2010-11 at IIT Bombay, constituted for the first time in the Institute in May 2010 under the GSAA- PG, Mr VSK Murthy Balijepalli, has been constantly and relentlessly pursuing various issues that are of common interest for the postgraduate students of the institute. Some of the key initiatives, activities and programs that have been approved and implemented/being implemented through the efforts of the council in the academic year 2010-11 are presented here:
1. Initiatives aimed at improving the quality of Teaching Assistantship (TA)
a) TA orientation 2010: TA guidelines were presented to more than 800 TA attendees with the aim of helping them better understand their responsibilities and improve their efficiency in the discharge of their duties. The programme was organized under the auspices of the office of the Dean Academic Programme by coordinating with eminent faculty members and departmental student representatives.
b) Preferential TA allotment: Conceptualized and presented a set of guidelines involving a TA preference form to be given to every Teaching Assistant, containing a list of all the TA duties for which TAs are needed in a particular semester. Based on the student’s CPI and the Professor In-charge’s consent, TA duty shall be allotted. This procedure has been recommended to all the Academic Units by the Dean (AP) in the third combined meeting of UGPGPEC, 2010.
c) TA awards: A framework for the implementation of TA awards were presented at the PGPC (171st meeting) and the Senate (202nd meeting) and has been approved in principle. Currently, it is being circulated among all the academic units for more inputs and is expected to be implemented soon.
d) DD/M Tech/ PhD scholarship for the last two months of TA ship: The erstwhile practice of the academic section’s policy of keeping the last two months’ scholarship of DD/MTech/PhD students as security deposit till submission of no-dues/completion of degree has been scrapped through approval from the Director. Now all such students completing their programme will receive their last two months scholarships on time.
e) Payment of PhD scholarship for the months of July and August before presenting the Annual Progress Seminar (APS): The system of withholding the scholarship of PhD students for two months before the presentation of APS has been done away with. The proposal that the scholarship for the month of July shall be paid before the APS and that for August shall be paid after the APS, has been approved and implemented from July 2010.
2. Institute Research and Development (R&D) Orientation
PGAC played a major role in organizing and coordinating the Institute R&D orientation for the fresh entrants across all programs (B Tech, M Tech and PhD). The orientation was recommended during the deliberations of PhD Review Committee. It included “Enthuse”- orientation sessions organized across hostels and addressed by faculty; open lab visits for UG and PG freshmen to promote interdisciplinary research; and Parwazz- a video shot in coordination with Dean R&D office and CDEEP and played during UG and PG freshmen orientations.
3. Revamp of Pulse: The Science and Technology magazine of IITB
Through the approval from Dean R&D and the Director, a new vision has been worked out for ‘Pulse’ based on an organized structure and regular issues. From this year onwards, Pulse shall be published quarterly and shall comprise a Faculty Advisor and student members from all programs (UG, PG and PhD). The first issue after the revamp focused on networking and communication and was released during Techfest (January 2011).
Currently, an online Pulse version is being finalized with involvement of all academic units.
The online version of Pulse, based on an exclusive iitb domain, shall have sections for blogging, research networking and updates and shall function as a central-point for showcasing the cutting-edge research carried out in our Institute.
4. Institute Student Companion programme (SCP)
The Students Companion Program for PG students has been conceptualized and implemented since May 2010 (http://gymkhana.iitb.ac.in/~scp/). PG students in the institute face various issues which are academic as wells as non-academic in nature. The SCP which aims at the overall development of a student provides a platform for the students to avail help at formal as well as informal levels.
5. PhD programme review
In order to facilitate the PhD review process, PGAC has conducted student surveys based on the results of which five consolidated recommendations for the PhD program at IITB were mooted to the Senate (201st Meeting) for the 1st Phase of the PhD Review. These recommendations are:
- Seamless integration of the BTech/DD program with MTech/PhD program.
- An updated pre-thesis training program consisting of elements of communication skills, ethics and research methodologies
- Novel provisions for interim evaluations of thesis involving the Annual Progress Seminar and the final evaluation of thesis
- Reorganization of the Institute academic bodies according to the needs of the Undergraduate, Masters’ and Doctoral programs.
These recommendations have now been sent to various academic units for more inputs.
6. Revamp of Communication Skills Course and exploring further needs for such a course across programmes (B Tech, M Tech, MSc, MPhil, M Des, and PhD)
PGAC conducted a survey among students and mooted the proposal for a complete revamp of the mandatory Communication Skills (HS 699) course. The same has been accepted (at the 170th meeting of PGPC and in 2nd UGPGPC meeting, 2010) and a Senate Committee chaired by Prof. Sachin Patwardhan, Department of Chemical Engineering, has been set up to not only look into the various aspects of communication skills requirements, but also Intellectual Property Rights, ethics, and technical writing.
7. Postgraduate Internships
With an aim to increase student exposure and collaborative research, PGAC conceptualized the provisions for streamlining PG internships at IIT Bombay. It includes the formation of a Post Graduate Internships Cell which rests on close interaction between the Dean (AP), Dean (R&D), Dean (IR) and the placement office. This is the first instance where different administrative establishments of the Institute have been brought together for increasing our research output. The proposal has been approved by the Dean (AP) and awaits Director’s Approval.
8. Research Networking/ Research book portal
This open student research networking database and interactive module aims at promoting a culture of inter-disciplinary research amongst the students across different disciplines. Available at http://gymkhana.iitb.ac.in/~academics/researchbook/, the database can be searched by the students through a robust interface.
9. New awards
PGAC has pushed for the Launch of PhD research/thesis awards from this year. The rules and regulations were framed through PGAC in consultation with the PGPC for 2010-11 and circulated on the student notices. Based on these, a special committee was set up by the Senate. Consequently, the first-ever PhD research/thesis awards were given during 2010 convocation. Also, an institute silver medal for Masters Students has been constituted in the 201st Senate meeting.
10. Student members in the departmental committees
This was proposed by the GSAA-PG at the 172nd PGPEC and 200th Senate Meeting and got approved. The senate has recommended to all the academic units for having student members in their respective committees.
11. Flexibility in the Masters curriculum
This was proposed at the PGPC (172ndMeeting) which forwarded it to the Senate. The Senate recommended one list of possible courses which could be taken by a Masters student as an Institute Elective, in the routine course of registration. A choice of Institute Elective from among this list would not require special approval from the Faculty Advisor and/or Dissertation Supervisor and the Convener, DPGC/ PGC/ IDPC. However, a Masters’ student would also be permitted to opt for any other course offered in an academic unit other than his/ her own, with sufficient credits assigned to it, as Institute Elective.
12. Web portals and discussion forums
A web portal for PG students of the Institute has been launched. The portal consists of discussion forums for airing views on academic as well as non-academic issues and has seen regular student participation (http://gymkhana.iitb.ac.in/~academics/pgacademics/).
13. PG Handbook
To ensure availability of information at a single place, a PG Handbook (for academic affairs) chronicling the means to handle the various systemic issues (scholarship, submission of forms for grants, information on a variety of formal procedures, etc.) the students face in general has been launched. This is on more informal lines catering to the whole Masters and PhD populace.This was launched during an open session with Dean-AP in January 2011.
14. Research Scholars’ confluence (RSC), 2010
The RSC 2010 was a flagship event of our Institute held in November 2010 and invited the PhD alumni of the Institute for interaction with the current PhD students. The event was attended by more than 400 delegates that included former and current research scholars and faculty.
15. Lessons on patenting
In coordination with the IPR Chair team, a proposal has been made for organizing patenting lessons for freshmen in the coming academic year. A course on patenting is also mooted from IPR chair to the Senate through PGPC.
The other initiatives which got approval include the release of a consolidated SAC Calendar combining cultural, sports and academic activities of the Institute to be distributed to the students during freshmen orientation; streamlining and adding various provision concerning the Academic Prohibition Program (173rd PGPEC Meeting); and sorting out of the redundant courses from the ASC (171st PGPC Meeting). A survey on inter-departmental slot clash (June 2010) was undertaken in the form of pre-registration in order to bring to light the associated problems so that they could be avoided in the future (for M Tech and PhD students). The GSAA PG has also taken up issues such as the bad condition of roads on the campus and opening of a 24/7 Xerox facility at the SAC meeting held on 9th February 2011.
Initiatives that are currently being worked on and expected to be completed by the end of this academic year:
1) Comprehensive review of the M. Tech. Programme is being undertaken, as the Ballal Committee framework for the M. Tech. Programme has been in use for more than eight years.
2) Consideration of a more widespread policy for re-examination for M Tech students whereby students who were awarded a grade below ‘CC’, with the exception of the ‘FR’ Grade, shall be permitted to appear for a re-examination. The grade after re-examination should be restricted to a maximum of ‘CC’.
3) Introduce compensatory mechanisms for Postgraduate Students in the summer months.
4) Flexible TAship whereby postgraduates can opt for receiving reduced stipend, if they do not wish to perform TA duties. The unpaid amount could be used for compensating the UG TAs.
5) Research Portal to be floated in off-semester projects to the UGs in coordination with the IRCC, Professors and PhD students.
6) Streamlining of SCP, the invited lecture series and communication workshops.
Written by Rojers P Joseph (email@example.com ) with inputs from VSK Murthy Balijepalli, GSAA-PG, 2010-11