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IIT Kharagpur plans to take in more girl students from next academic year

Millennium Post | Team MP | 8 Aug 2017 | Kolkata |

Prodded by the ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD), IIT Kharagpur has a strong plan to take in more girl students from the next academic year. “We will suo moto take more girl students from the next academic session. The number of girls in the undergraduate level is merely 9 percent. This should be at least 20 percent,” IIT KGP director Partha Pratim Chakraborti said. According to Prof Chakraborti, it has been found that though the number of girl students hovers around 8 to 10 percent, the percentage of girls excelling in their academic performance is as high as 40 percent. “More and more girl students need to pursue engineering. We will be following the supernumerary model to push the intake of girls,” Prof Chakraborti said refusing to divulge the details of the process.

Speaking about the reasons behind this difference in gender ratio, Professor Chakraborti said that there is still a tendency among a number of families not to send their girls to institutions that are far away from their residences. Moreover, the entrance examination in the IITs are tougher and often parents hesitate to send their girls to quality coaching centres when it is at a good distance from their homes. “IIT KGP will identify meritorious girls from Class VIII in their respective catchment areas and coach and counsel them as well as their parents. Some parents think engineering as a subject or the IITs as a destination are meant more for boys only. Several private coaching institutes already have programmes that offer ‘IIT exam-oriented coaching’ from Class VII itself to get them acquainted with what to expect in the entrance tests,” a senior professor said.In a drive to ensure a better gender ratio on campus, IIT KGP has already started a special helpline for girl students along with an exclusive girl’s cell. “To encourage more women research scholars and students to come up with innovative research, publish papers and take part in internationally acclaimed global conferences, the institute with the support of Infosys Foundation plans to provide travel funds for women researchers to attend top International Conferences,” he said. – Courtesy

Bennett University offers international exposure to students

The Economic Times | ET BureauAug 07, 2017 |

Founded by The Times of India Group, the multi-faculty, research-led Bennett University started operations in August 2016.

NEW DELHI: Further strengthening its tie-ups with international universities, Bennett University sent students to academic partner schools such as Babson College, University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) and Georgia Tech. More than two dozen BTech students attended lectures, workshops, laboratories, undertook corporate visits and more by taking advantage of the global platform that was provided. “Those who’ve completed their engineering first year were selectively sent to our academic partner campuses for enhancing their overall practical experience,” said Bennett University vice chancellor Dr Yaj Medury. “All students received a certification for this programme from the respective institute. We think there is an increased confidence level in these students upon going to these schools.” Divyaansh Devarriya, 19, said his experience at Georgia Tech included an observational research programme besides various seminars and that he was able to meet several professors during the time he spent there. “We were eight of us from computer science/electronics disciplines and the idea was to give us knowledge in various fields including potential research options,” he said. Devarriya and his classmates also got some hands-on experience in developing code. “The exposure helped us understand topical areas that we can pursue research in as well,” he said.

Another student who attended Babson College’s ‘Babson Build’ was equally happy with her experience. Vidhi Mansharamani and her fellow students were exposed to the programme based on the principles of entrepreneurial thought and action, which prepares students to leverage the power of entrepreneurship to accelerate their potential and create new opportunities for the future over a two-week period.  “The practical experience was the next level. I’m still not over it, since with it we’ve got a new perspective of business,” Mansharamani said. Prem Jotwani went to Omaha and said he attended workshops ranging from American politics to cybersecurity, design and creativity. The two-week Road 2 Omaha programme had courses such as negotiations in business and life, social informatics and creativity, and the design process, among others.  Founded by The Times of India Group, the multi-faculty, research-led Bennett University started operations in August 2016 with the promise of making students “life and career ready”. The university offers programmes in engineering, management, media and law. ET is part of the Times of India Group.- Courtesy

A Google Engineer Writes That Women May Be Genetically Unsuited For Tech Jobs

ND TV | World | Cleve R. Wootson Jr.| The Washington Post | August 07, 2017 |

The essay, reported by Motherboard and posted by Gizmodo, was posted on an internal Google forum by a male software engineer and titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber.”

  1. The engineer criticised the number of women working in Google
  2. Google is being investigated over allegations of gender pay inequality
  3. The engineer has faced harsh criticism and backlash

In a screed that rocketed around Silicon Valley this weekend, a software engineer at Google blasted the company’s efforts to increase the number of minorities and women in its ranks and leadership positions. The essay, reported by Motherboard and posted by Gizmodo, was posted on an internal Google forum by a male software engineer and titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber.” The author has not been publicly identified, but his words have sparked a backlash. Critics say his sentiments reflect a tech company culture that’s unwelcoming or even hostile to women and minorities. Another fear: The engineer’s words reflect the unspoken thoughts of many others in an industry dominated by white men. Google, which has announced efforts to increase diversity and is being investigated over allegations of gender pay inequality, did not respond to a message from The Washington Post seeking comment Sunday. The company did address the essay in an internal letter to employees.

The essay argues that Google should stop its campaigns to increase gender and racial diversity and focus instead on “ideological diversity.” It says the reason women don’t make up half of the company’s technological and leadership positions is because of “genetic differences” in their preferences and abilities. “These differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership,” the engineer wrote. “We need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism.” The author says the company’s diversity efforts have “created a politically correct monoculture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters into silence” and makes it easier for “extremist and authoritarian policies” to take root. He says Google’s efforts to achieve more equal gender and race representation – special programs for HBCUs for example, or coding camps for girls – have led to “discriminatory practices,” specifically against conservatives. In the essay, the author says he has received support from others in the company for “bringing up these very important issues,” which others “would never have the courage to say or defend because of our shaming culture and the possibility of being fired.”

The essay comes as the Mountain View, California, company has been trying to increase the stubbornly unbudging percentage of women and minorities in its ranks and is being investigated by the Labor Department for a disparity in pay between men and women. Responding to the essay in a message to Google employees, Danielle Brown, the company’s new vice president of diversity, integrity and governance, said the essay “advanced incorrect assumptions about gender.” “Diversity and inclusion are a fundamental part of our values and the culture we continue to cultivate,” Brown said. “We are unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as a company, and we’ll continue to stand for that and be committed to it for the long haul.” As The Washington Post’s Jena McGregor wrote in March, just 1 percent of Google’s technology employees are black – a percentage that hasn’t moved since 2014. To become more diverse, McGregor wrote, “the company has expanded its recruiting to a broader range of schools, trains its workers on ‘implicit biases’ and re-examines resumes to make sure recruiters don’t overlook diverse talent.”

Slack engineer Erica Baker, whom CNBC called an “outspoken critic of systematic bias in the tech industry,” said the engineer’s diatribe was shocking but not surprising. “Google has seen hints of this in the past, with employees sharing blog posts about their racist beliefs and the occasional internal mailing list question, ‘innocently’ asking if Black people aren’t more likely to be violent,” she wrote on her blog Saturday. “The most important question we should be asking of leaders at Google and that they should be asking of themselves is this: Why is the environment at Google such that racists and sexists feel supported and safe in sharing these views in the company?” Yonatan Zunger, a former senior Google employee, also took issue with the software engineer’s post. He wrote on Medium that the essay shows a misunderstanding of the way Google tries to address the world’s problems: “Essentially, engineering is all about cooperation, collaboration, and empathy for both your colleagues and your customers. If someone told you that engineering was a field where you could get away with not dealing with people or feelings, then I’m very sorry to tell you that you have been lied to.”- Courtesy

Google Fires Employee Behind Anti-Diversity Memo : ND TV, | Reuters |  August 08, 2017 |

James Damore, the engineer who wrote the memo, confirmed his dismissal, saying in an email to Reuters on Monday that he had been fired for “perpetuating gender stereotypes” …Read More …

Sunder Pichai condemns anti-diversity memo, Google sacks engineer, The New Indian Express, Read More…

KTU launches ‘Minor in Engineering’

Mathrubhumi Education Online | Aug 6, 2017 |
Kerala: Aiming to impart entrepreneurial competencies to engineering students, the A.P.J Abdul Kalam Technological University has launched Minor in Entrepreneurship programme. Students without backlogs are only eligible to apply for the programme. Talking to mathrubhumi.com, KTU Pro-Vice Chancellor Dr.M.Abdul Rahman said, “the university will commence the programme in the present academic year itself.” “In the era of start-ups, nourishing skills to help students to become entrepreneurs is need of the hour. With this programme, we aim to equip engineering students with additional skills,” Pro-VC added. In the line of minor programmes offered by foreign universities, KTU is planning to introduce a set of minor programmes. Minor in Entrepreneurship is the first among them.
The students should earn additional 12 credits for the Minor degree in two years with the one year break of study provision. However the Minor will be awarded only when the B.Tech programme is completed successfully. For attaining the 12 Credits they should undergo minimum four courses of three credts each during the specified period. The total number of contact hours will be 180 hours during a period of 15 weeks. The university is implementing the programme with the help of government accredited or university-accredited agencies such as ASAP, KSUM, KSDP, ICFOSS, ICT Academy etc. KTU has empanelled five Govt. approved TBIs for conducting Minor in Entrepreneurship. A student, who has passed in all courses till the third semester, can apply for the Minor. Interested students seeking admission have to attend a free MOOC course to understand the preliminary lessons in student startup. This could help the students in their self assessment for the programme as well as in their admission process. – Courtesy  /   KTU Notification : Approved Implementation Framework for Minor in Engineering

Data science and artificial intelligence research centre to be set up in IIT-Madras

The Times of India | Ranjani Ayyar | TNN | Aug 4, 2017 |

CHENNAI: Robert Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions (RBEI) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) on Friday to set up the Robert Bosch Centre for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (RBC-DSAI).  The mission of the RBC-DSAI is to create societal impact through multidisciplinary interactions with government, academic, research and industrial collaborators on core challenges in Data Science (DS) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). The Centre will receive Rs 3 crore – Rs 4 crore funding per year for five years. Vijay Ratnaparkhe, MD, Robert Bosch, said, “This partnership is to accelerate research for societal impact, taking a long-term view. It will set a precedent in the way big-data is used to improve our problem solving capability in industry. At the same time, the collaboration will result in shared outcomes for the benefit of society.”  Bhaskar Ramamurthi, director, IIT-M said, “IIT-Madras has been nurturing its interdisciplinary data sciences and artificial intelligence research group for more than three years now. The launch of this centre in partnership with, and generous support from, RBEI is an affirmation of the rapid growth and impact of the group’s research and teaching activities. I am confident that the RBC-DSAI will become a globally acknowledged centre working at the cutting edge of various aspects of machine learning, data science and artificial intelligence, leading to work with high social impact.”
The Robert Bosch Centre will undertake foundational research in many areas of AI and data science — deep learning, reinforcement learning, network analytics, interpretable machine learning, and domain aware AI. The areas of activity include research projects, knowledge management and dissemination, developing prototypes, outreach projects and setting up collaborative facilities and laboratories among others. The centre’s mandate requires interaction with industry and other universities, including international student and faculty exchanges. The objective is to advance scientific innovation for societal benefit.  Several technologies currently require large datasets to improve their accuracy and to adapt these technologies for the Indian context. As part of Bosch’s research and innovation portfolio in India, the centre in IIT-M will become part of a network to support ‘Digital India.’ It will advance the country in the fields of innovation and research as the world moves towards more connected hardware and software products. This research network also includes the Robert Bosch Centre for Cyber Physical Systems at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore. – Courtesy

Done in 58 weeks: 15-year-old (Nirbhay Thakkar) prodigy finishes BE in a year

The Times of India | Bharat Yagnik | TNN |  Aug 6, 2017 |

Nirbhay Thakkar and his parents

  • Nirbhay Thakkar’s accelerated education started from class VIII
  • Nirbhay completed class VIII to X in six months and XI and XII in the next three months
  • These accomplishments have been registered by a boy who was found ‘weak’ by teachers in the senior KG

AHMEDABAD: When children of his age furiously prepared for class X board exams, 15-year-old Nirbhay Thakkar completed his BE (Electrical) course. In October, Nirbhay became the youngest engineering graduate from the Gujarat Technological University (GTU). His accelerated education started from class VIII. After passing the class VII exam as a state board student from Jamnagar, where his father was posted in a private sector firm as an engineer, Nirbhay completed class VIII to X in six months and XI and XII in the next three months under the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) system run by Cambridge International Examinations.  These accomplishments have been registered by a boy who was found ‘weak’ by teachers in the senior KG. “I was surprised by the remark when they suggested that and I took it upon myself to get the best out of my child,” said his Nirbhay’s father, Dhaval Thakkar. “While the conventional examinations focus merely on testing students’ memory, we devised a method with which Nirbhay truly became fearless about marks and focused instead on learning – not just by reading but also listening, visualizing, and finding applications of concepts. Thus, he could learn much in short time.” Nirbhay’s father, an engineer, and his mother, who is a doctor, represented his case as a special one to the GTU, Admission Committee for Professional Courses (ACPC) and All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). Nirbhay was thus admitted to SAL College of Engineering.  Dr Rupesh Vasani, the principal of the college, said that a special schedule was prepared for the fast-track course in coordination with faculty members. “The course is credit-based and Nirbhay spends nine hours at the college,” he said. “According to the GTU norms, the paper was set and results were declared only for him.”

Nirbhay said that it was the sense of wonderment towards the world around instilled by his father helped him prepare for the subjects over the years. Dhaval Thakkar had left job at the age of 36 years to concentrate on the child. “I intend to complete 10 degrees of engineering over next three years once the BE is completed as there are a number of common subjects,” said Nirbhay who enjoys football, chess, or swimming in his leisure time. “As I intend to go into research and product development, the degrees will make my approach multi-disciplinary.” Dr Navin Sheth, the vice-chancellor of GTU, said that Nirbhay would be the youngest engineering degree holder in the university’s history. When questioned about the multiple-degree plan for Nirbhay, he said that the permission would be granted on the basis of relevant UGC guidelines. Dhaval Thakkar said that no child is dull or bright in studies – all depends on how the child’s mind is programmed for excellence. He said that he would like to reach out to more students with his theory. As his graduate project, Nirbhay is developing a windmill based on maglev (magnetic levitation) technology which can remain functional and generate energy even with minimal wind. In the future, he wishes to work with the defence sector to develop next-gen weaponry.- Courtesy

This online course aims to spread STEM education to women from small cities across India

Edex Live | Reshma Ravishanker | 03rd August 2017 |

Participants have to use the knowledge gained from the course and make a submission for the project

The Anita Borg Institute (ABI) India launched 2017  Codeathon.in for women students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) from smaller cities across India. As a part of the event, participants have to use the knowledge gained from the online course and make a submission for the project: Navigate the Mars Rover. The project involves designing and implementing a solution that will apply a variety of shortest path algorithms to help the Mars Rover find the optimal path between the starting point and the destination marked by the user. The end user will have the ability to choose the algorithm to be used.  This initiative is an online platform that offers the students an opportunity to enhance their coding skills while developing innovative solutions.

“Currently, the industry efforts in this area are concentrated in the six to eight metro cities. At times there is so much happening that the talent in these cities is spoilt for choices. There is a large pool of untapped talent in smaller cities that have a lot of knowledge, they need more exposure and confidence-building. 2017 Codethon.in aims to bridge this gap. The participation from colleges and students in the selected cities has been positive and we look forward to some great codingsaid Geetha Kannan, MD, ABI India. The event is being held in select engineering colleges in Bhilai (Chhattisgarh), Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu), Mysore (Karnataka) and a few cities in Kerala. It will be conducted online from July and will go on until September 2017. It will also offer all participants coaching and practical experience that will better prepare them students for exciting careers in technology. –  Courtesy    /   Click here to take a look at  Codeathon.in        /  The Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology is a nonprofit organization founded by computer scientist Anita Borg. The institute’s primary aim is to recruit, retain, and advance women in technology.The institute’s most prominent program is the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference, the world’s largest gathering of women in computing.        https://anitaborg.org/about-us/india/

Half Of Those Who Crack Civil Services Exam Are Engineers, Majority Of Them Opt For Subjects Like Sociology: Jitendra Singh

ND TV | Edited by Maitree Baral | : August 03, 2017 |

Minister of State for personnel, public grievances and pensions Jitendra Singh has stated that, ‘Nearly half of those who crack the civil services examination are engineering graduates and a large number of them do so by opting for subjects like public administration and sociology.’

New Delhi: Minister of State for personnel, public grievances and pensions Jitendra Singh has stated that, ‘Nearly half of those who crack the civil services examination are engineering graduates and a large number of them do so by opting for subjects like public administration and sociology,’ in response to BJP member Subramaniam Swamy’s question on whether the government had received representations to include Ayurveda as an optional subject for civil services examination, during the question hour in Rajya Sabha, today. ‘There are 48 optional subjects for the examination and added that Ayurveda not being an optional did not mean that Ayush graduates could not appear for the examination,’ he added further to support his statement.

However he said that the issue is under examination by the government. Among 20 toppers this year, 19 were engineers and one was a doctor. Civil services final result 2016 was declared in May. Nandini KR, 26 year old civil engineer, topped the examination. Highlighting more, he said not even 10 per cent of the doctors opt for medical science as their option. Doctors and engineers choose optional subjects different than what they have studied, for the civil services exam. Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) had declared the result of the civil services preliminary exam in June and the main exam is scheduled to be held on October 2017. Close to 14000 candidates have qualified the civil services preliminary exam.  – (With Inputs From PTI) – Courtesy

From tech cos to Everest, Meerah Rajavel’s marathon continues

The Times of India | Ranjani Ayyar | TNN | : Aug 3, 2017  |

Forty-six-year-old Meerah Rajavel, hailing from Virudhunagar, is probably the only woman from Tamil Nadu who completed a marathon at the Everest Base Camp last year. But that is just one of the feats that make Meerah an inspiring figure for girls in the state. A tech aficionado in a senior position at a US-based company, Meerah, has come a long way from being a small-town girl who was not allowed to study outside, to being a globe-trotting professional, an avid marathoner and a social entrepreneur.  Meerah started running in a bid to socialise with others in her early 30s. So far she has participated in more than 20 marathons, her first being the one at Long Beach, Los Angeles. The Athens Classic Marathon was one that tested her endurance. With a part of the marathon involving an uphill climb, Meerah says she began throwing up midway. “My body was telling me to stop. If I had, the ambulance would have picked me up and the medics wouldn’t have allowed me to continue. But, something within told me to finish it and I ran on,” she says.
For Meerah , running is an addiction. “Human body is a great machine. If you give it time and train it well, it will work the way you want it to. The adrenaline rush and the energy and fitness levels you acquire are by-products but running is the motivation,” she says.  Besides running, Meerah juggles her time between her role as the chief information officer at Forcepoint, a cyber security company in the US and her passion for social entrepreneurship. Her love for computers began when she was in the 11th grade. Studying in a small girls’ school in Virudhunagar, Meerah’s batch would travel to the nearby boy’s college over the weekend to get five minutes in front of a computer. She even convinced a college professor to teach her computer skills. Determined to study computer science engineering, Meerah was set on Guindy Engineering College (GEC) in Chennai but her parents felt otherwise. “We didn’t want her to be far away. Both of us were working and we had to make sure we could be there if she ever needed us,” says Astamani, her mother.

 When her admit card to GEC was received by post, her father kept it away from Meerah. After she cleared the entrance to Thiagarajar College of Engineering at Madurai which was less than an hour away from home, her father showed her the earlier admit card. “I was livid at first. But I knew it was in my best interest,” says Meerah.  Post her engineering, Meerah worked with various companies including Lotus Infotech and Infosys in India and Cisco in the US. “The years in Cisco were formative for my career. In a span of 10 years, I handled roles across sales, finance, engineering and shared services,” she says. She is also deeply invested in social entrepreneurship. After her mother retired as a school teacher, Meerah set up a fund along with her in Virudhunagar to sponsor the education of underprivileged girls and build a free library. “It is a free of cost and centrally located facility that is accessible to all the girls’ schools. All girls commuting back home have to pass by the library. We have more than 3,000 books that I have sourced from various stores and sales in the US,” she says.  For young girls in small towns who aspire to make it big, Meerah says,” Dream big. Everything is possible when you put your heart and mind to it.”- Courtesy

Vacant seats in IITs touch 4-year high; unpopular courses may be scrapped

Aug 02, 2017 11:36 AM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com |

Last year, vacant seats stood at 121 and the number was 50 and 3 in 2015 and 2014 respectively.

Vacancies across Indian Institute of Technology (IITs) has reached a 4-year high. Nearly 121 seats out of the total 10,962 seats are yet to be filled despite seven rounds of admission, according to a report in the Times of India. Last year, vacant seats stood at 121 and the number was 50 and 3 in 2015 and 2014 respectively. IIT-BHU, Varanasi had highest number of vacant seats at 32, followed by IIT-Dhanbad (23 seats), IIT-Jammu (13) and IIT-Khargpur with 9 vacant seats. IIT-Kanpur, IIT-Jodhpur and IIT-Hyderabad are the only ones with no vacant seat. Considering the rising number of vacant seats over the years, the Human resource Development (HRD) ministry has asked IITs to look at probable solutions including scrapping of unpopular courses.

Keeping this in mind, the IIT Joint Admission Board is expected to meet soon to decide on scrapping some courses, reports TOI. The vacant seats are majorly due to some unpopular courses. IIT-Varanasi, with highest number of vacant seats, saw courses like pharmaceutical engineering and technology and ceramic engineering lacking interest. A report in the Hindustan Times, quoting senior IIT official, said that students prefer to opt for popular course like computer science in an National Institute of Technology (NIT), than settling for a common course in IIT. While IITs is done with its admission process including counselling, NITs are still holding special admission sessions till Sunday to fill up vacant seats. Another reason for vacant seats is the 50 percent state quota, another official source told HT.- Courtesy

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