That’s what friends are for
While inaugurating the Nagpur Alumni chapter in March, Dean, Alumni Affairs, Prof. Subrata Chattopadhyay, talked about the hub-and-spoke model of Alumni connectivity. “If the two major Alumni foundations (of India and USA) form the hub of the connectivity efforts, the chapters are the spokes. The chapters channelize our efforts to reach out to the Alumni in every nook and corner of the country.”
The Technology Alumni Association Bangalore (TAAB) of IIT Kharagpur has been doing this for years, and now more proactively. Its assistance in facilitating summer internships this year is a prime example of this.
Each year, students – across departments and levels of study – reach out to the organization for its support and assistance in facilitating their summer internship. Having received around 12 requests this year, TAAB got to work.
TAAB President, Dipankar Khasnabish, says, “We collated the basic details – like name, year, departments, areas of interest, location preference if any – of the students. The preference was strongly for data analytics, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.” That done, they began to look for ways to make the connections.
Khasnabish says, “Anjan Datta, our senior alumni, looked into his chapter database and identified alumni across the country who would be able to help in this regard. We connected with alumni who are founders of companies as also leaders and members or corporate organizations.”
Focussed communication was sent to around 250 people and quite a few dialogues started. Some of the respondents came back for CVs, some for clarifications. There were some who said they have no projects but can connect with other companies. In one case, a corporate house had something definite to offer, and it was connected to the placement cell of IIT Kharagpur. Khasnabish says, “Having made the initial contact, we connected the people either to the students directly or to the Institute.”
The initiative of the TAAB has generated a lot of goodwill. The effort has been appreciated by students and alumni alike for being unique and helpful. However, Khasnabish says, “The program has to be more structured in order to be effective. Besides, so far we have no infrastructure to cater to the needs of more than a handful of students.”
The other area where the Institute has received support from TAAB is in the run-up to the launch of the six month program in AI and ML by the Centre of Excellence for Artificial Intelligence. TAAB also played a part through the interactions of Capillary Technologies, which seed-funded the CoE for AI with the Institute, as well the team which is spearheading the efforts.
In October last year, TAAB, in association with the IIT Alumni Centre Bangalore, organized a panel discussion of IIT KGP faculty and alumni and experts in various AI domains to discuss state-of-the-art AI research and applications. The chief guest was IIT KGP Director, Prof. Partha Pratim Chakrabarti. The experts were Subodh Kumar, Co-founder of liv.ai, Dr Sameep Mehta, Senior Researcher, STSM, IBM Research India, Dr Subrat Panda, Head, AI and Data Sciences at Capillary Technologies, and Dr Tathagato Rai Dastidar, Co-founder, SigTuple. The forum was widely appreciated by the speakers and the participants as one of the best they have attended.
Prof. Chakrabarti commented on the occasion (Oct 7, 2018) – a “very productive morning session in Bangalore starting with a meeting of IIT Kharagpur Alumni Foundation India…. What could be more satisfying for a teacher than to listen to the success of your students, especially work done in India and for India – three of the four outstanding speakers are my ex-students. Made a clarion call on AI for India. Received overwhelming support.”
TAAB has also hosted the interaction with the interns at Capillary Technologies. It organized a couple of speaker meetings – including one at Affine Analytics where Mr. Manas Agarwal, the Co-founder, was the speaker.
On the corporate connect front, TAAB facilitated the Institute’s discussions with Wells Fargo for a course in data analytics. TAAB hopes to redouble its efforts along these lines in the coming days.
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