Prof. David J Gross, Nobel Laureate and Chancellor’s Chair of Theoretical Physics, University of California, addressing virtually the 57th Convocation of IIT Madras held on Sunday
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Chennai, NFAPost: The Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) on Sunday conducted its Convocation using a ‘Mixed Reality’ mode. The event was held online combining the real and virtual world and showcasing how they can interact. A total of 2,346 degrees were awarded during the 57th Convocation.

Prof. David J Gross, Nobel Laureate and Chancellor’s Chair of Theoretical Physics, University of California, was the Chief Guest. Dr. Pawan Goenka, Chairman, Board of Governors, IIT Madras and Managing Director, Mahindra and Mahindra, presided over the Convocation.

Addressing the graduands from Santa Barbara, US, Prof. David J Gross, Nobel Laureate and Chancellor’s Chair of Theoretical Physics, University of California, said, “Many of you are completing your education today and are now wondering what the next few years will bring. One thing I am sure of is that no one can give you any answer. The world is undergoing rapid change and as the event of the last few months show, no one can predict what will happen next week, much less beyond that. The same is true of science and one’s career in science.”

Further, Prof. David J Gross said, “Life is not made up of years but of moments. As we look back on our life, what we remember is a collection of moments. None of us remember our beginning and none of us will remember our end. This moment is both a beginning and an ending for you. For many of you, it is the end of college tuition and the beginning of repayment of student loans. For many of you, it is the end of the process in which you absorbed vast knowledge and the beginning of the process when you begin to apply that knowledge or pass it along to the next generation. For many of you, it is the end of formal education and the beginning of the so-called ‘real life’.”

“For many of you, it is the end of the period in life where you received from your parents and society and the beginning of the period where you give back to the society. And there is much that you can give back, for you are a privileged lot. Privileged to be citizens of a rapidly-growing country with a rich and glorious history that is now moving on to take its rightful place in the world. You are fortunate to be free of disease, hunger and war that plagued much of humanity for most of the times. You are privileged to have attended a great institution of learning and to have acquired much knowledge,” said Prof. David J Gross.

Prof. David Gross was awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics along with H David Politzer and Frank Wilczek for the discovery of asymptotic freedom in the theory of the strong interaction. He has been a central figure in particle physics and string theory. His discovery, with his student Frank Wilczek, of asymptotic freedom—the primary feature of non-Abelian gauge theories—led Gross and Wilczek to the formulation of Quantum Chromodynamics, the theory of the strong nuclear force.

Speaking on the occasion, IIT Madras Chairman, Board of Governors, Dr Pawan Goenka said, “Class of 2020 – you have a very special distinction. The distinction of graduating from an institute, which has been ranked the #1 Engineering College in India, for five years in a row. Further, IIT Madras also continued to hold on to the No.1 position in the Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements. This is a true reflection of the collective commitment of our faculty, administration, staff and students. On behalf of the Board of Governors, I would like to congratulate everyone at IIT Madras for this accomplishment.”

IIT Madras Director Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi awarded degrees to the graduating students virtually. A total of 2,346 degrees were awarded this year. This includes highest number of PhDs awarded in an academic year, 353 (which includes PhDs, Joint Degree Ph.Ds, and Dual Degree Ph.Ds), M.S – 103, M.Tech. – 431, Web-based M.Tech – 14, PGDMRTM – 19, M.Sc – 122, Joint Degree MBA – 3, MBA – 48, EMBA – 37, MA – 33, Dual Degree – 680, B.Tech – 406.

Convocation 2020 also included, for the first time, 59 Inter-disciplinary Dual-Degree students who upgraded from the UG programme to obtain Masters’ degrees in Data Science, Computational Engineering, Robotics, Nanotechnology and Energy Systems, and 51 from industry who have earned their Masters’ degrees through our web-enabled executive programmes in Engineering specialisations and Business Administration.

Presenting a report on the Institute’s performance in the last academic year, Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi said, “The pandemic led to a nation-wide lockdown in March 2020 and educational institutions have remain closed since. The classes re-started online within a couple of weeks… Due to the heroic efforts of our faculty and students, we completed classes for the January-May 2000 Semester in time to enable our graduating students to take up their jobs, and our pre-final-year students to take up internships in the summer, many of them in the online mode. Our graduating research scholars and students with projects also wound up their theses from home.”

Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi added, “Our Strategic Plan 2013-2020, whose targets we have met or exceeded in every aspect, has brought us this far. Our plans as an ‘Institute of Eminence’ will propel us further and take us to greater heights in the coming years.”

“The Institute continues to attract substantial funding for its research and consultancy activities from both Ministries of the Government of India and industry. During the past 5 years, the former grew at a CAGR of 17%, while the latter grew at a very healthy 26%. In 2019-20, the Institute received sanction for 294 Ministry-sponsored projects for a total value of Rs 333.1 crore, and 649 consultancy and industry-sponsored research projects amounting to Rs 249.3 crore. We filed for 191 patents during the year of which 62 are international filings, and were granted 58,” concluded Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi.

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