IIT Madras and RWTH Aachen University celebrate decades of Strategic Partnership


Chennai: Indian Institute of Technology Madras and RWTH Aachen University, Germany, celebrated their decades-long strategic partnership and scientific collaboration with the visit of a Science Delegation from RWTH Aachen University led by its Rector Prof. Ulrich Rüdiger to IIT Madras.

The visit of RWTH Aachen University Rector, accompanied by members of the Rectorate and a distinguished delegation of RWTH Scientists, highlights the extraordinary relationship between the two institutions and provides a fresh impetus to the development of new areas of cooperation. Several events, workshops and strategic discussions are being held from Monday to Wednesday at IIT Madras to enhance this collaboration.

Addressing an event held at IIT Madras Research Park today (18th February 2020), His Excellency Mr. Walter J. Lindner, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to India, said, “We have over-population, global warming, environmental degradation and lack of resources, which can have a huge impact on the world population, which is expected to hit eleven billion. Universities such as IIT Madras have the expertise to come up with solutions to these global problems and cross border collaboration is the need of the hour. I am happy that Germany could contribute to the foundation of this institute sixty years ago.”

The two sister universities RWTH Aachen University and IIT Madras occupy a unique spot in the Indo-German science and higher education landscape. Based on these historically grown relations, the partnership between the two institutions has evolved over the years. Today, it creates tangible advantages for faculty members, students and staff of both Institutions.

Speaking on the occasion, Prof Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director, IIT Madras, said, “Many important projects related to sustainability, land use, and waste management are being done at the Indo-German Centre for Sustainability (IGCS), which is an important centre of collaboration between IIT Madras and RWTH Aachen University and has grown over the years. The new focus on coastal management now is due to climate change.”

Making a presentation on IIT Madras, Prof Bhaskar Ramamurthi said, “The Institute has set up 37 large Centres of Excellence, which are interdisciplinary in nature and involve faculty and students from various departments. IIT Madras does nearly 1,000 projects a year, including with 250 Indian companies and a fair number of international companies as well.”

Prof Bhaskar Ramamurthi was also conferred with the RWTH Honorary Fellow Award by Prof. Ulrich Rüdiger, Rector, RWTH Aachen University, in recognition of his scientific achievements, his merits for the bilateral cooperation and for the success story of IGCS.

Addressing the event, Prof. Ulrich Rüdiger said, “RWTH Aachen University is also working with the Industry along the lines of the model adopted by IIT Madras Research Park. Our joint history dates back to 1959 when RWTH Aachen University supported the foundation of IIT Madras. In 1966, the two Institutions formed the first German-Indian University partnership. In 2016, the strategic partnership of ‘Sister Universities’ was initiated between the two universities. Around 1,400 Indian students study at RWTH, the second largest contingent of foreign students in the university.”

Further, the celebrations also marked the celebration of 60 years since the founding of IIT Madras, 150 years since RWTH was established and ten years of IGCS.

Highlighting the collaboration between the two institutes, Prof Mahesh Panchagnula, Dean (International and Alumni Relations), IIT Madras, said, “Our collaboration with RWTH Aachen University goes a long way back since the founding year of IIT Madras not only in the form of professors visiting us but also in research collaborations, which have deepened over the years. IIT Madras is one of the most industry-facing academic institution. IIT Madras Research Park is a result of that story industry-academic collaboration that has been fostered for many years in the campus.”

Since 2016, RWTH and IIT Madras have been receiving financial support under the program Indo-German Partnerships in Higher Education funded by German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), and University Grants Commission (UGC). This helped significantly to enhance the strategic partnership by implementing targeted measures aimed at increasing exchange at all levels and at institutionalizing the cooperation. It has resulted in over 100 visits so far and the initiation of joint research projects in a variety of subjects.

Speaking on the occasion, Prof Joybrato Mukherjee, President, German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), said, “This is a special day in the long-shared history between India and Germany and between IIT Madras and RWTH Aachen University. IIT Madras has been one of the most important partners of DAAD with IGCS being one of the important initiatives between the two institutions.”

The IGCS serves the cooperation between German and Indian scientists on fundamental and applied research, teaching and training, dissemination of information in the area of sustainable development. Its special focus is the protection of the environment considering water resources, energy, land use and rural development and waste management.

Prof B.S. Murty, Faculty, IIT Madras, and Indian Coordinator, Indo-German Centre for Sustainability (IGCS), and Dr Klaus Reicherter, Rector’s delegate for India and IGCS Centre Coordinator, presented the salient points of research underway at IGCS.

The IGCS, which completes a decade this year, has enabled more than 600 mobilities between the two institutions. As part of the RWTH delegation visit, the IGCS Steering Committee and the IGCS Advisory Board Meeting are also taking place. The IGCS Winter School with 30 Indian and German Master and PhD Students is taking place between 15th and 29th February 2020.

MoU on internships

Along the side lines of the event, IIT Madras entered into a MoU with Robert Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions Private Limited, which has long standing collaborations with the Institute.

The MoU was signed by Prof Ravindra Gettu, Dean (Industrial Consultancy and Sponsored Research), IIT Madras, and Dr. Vijendran G. Venkoparao, Senior General Manager, Robert Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions Private Limited, in the presence of Prof B. Ravindran, Head, Robert Bosch Centre for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (RBC DSAI), and Prof Rajesh Nair, Coordinator, TEEDE, IIT Madras. Through this MoU, Robert Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions (RBEI) will offer internships to German exchange students from RWTH University coming to IIT Madras.

IIT Madras has initiated a program called ‘Towards Excellence in Engineering Dual Education’ (TEEDE) for developing industrial partnerships. It is designed to train research personnel for industrial requirement ensuring career prospects and placement. This industrial partnership in terms of sponsored research program will encourage translational research leading to the development of a process or product.

IIT Madras and RWTH Aachen offer a Dual Degree Program, in which there will be exchange of students between the two institutes. The exchange students are expected to go through an internship in an industry in both Germany and India. RBEI has agreed to accept the exchange students for internship on the topics of Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence. The focus areas will be AI, Data Analytics, Manufacturing, Automobile Engineering and Bio-Medical Engineering, among others.

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