Sunday, April 14, 2024
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Strategic Plans 

India’s economic growth, the need to scale up technological education, the roles of innovation and IP in the nation’s economic trajectory and sustainability issues such as global warming have set the national context for the development of Strategic 20 years Vision Plan. India is emerging as an innovator, and the present situation offers opportunities for the country to take the lead in demonstrating how growth can be achieved in a sustainable manner. The University’s are expected to play a key role in research and education towards achieving this goal. This strategic plan has been drawn up, as with previous plans, through a process of consensus building. Even while this process was on, implementation of several elements of the plan has been taken up. The targets of the strategic plan and the vision underlying the plan are presented in the following sections.

The broad goals of Strategic Plan  are aligned with Mahatma Gandhi University’s commitment to excellence in research and education and the Plan is consequently focused on these core themes. The strategic plan enunciates Mahatma Gandhi University’s objective of being recognised as a global leader in research and education. There are a number of international rankings of educational institutions. These draw up lists on the basis of different indicators such as research excellence, student preference and academic and employer surveys. MG University seeks to rise in those rankings whose parameters are in alignment with the institution’s objectives. The University newly introduced the School ‘ School of Energy Materials’ aims to attract the brightest students from diverse backgrounds and offer them an excellent education. The strategic plan seeks to leverage the traditional strengths of the university and to build upon them and to acquire or develop new strengths. In particular, it seeks to nurture large groups of faculty working on transformational technologies that have the potential to address the societal challenges faced in India today with regard to water, energy, education and the like. Industry- and government-funded research and development is a major component of this effort.

The strategic plan envisions the development of infrastructure commensurate with the anticipated increases in research needs and in the numbers of the faculty and students. It seeks to introduce a Research Park, the first Indian university based research park. This will make a big difference in industry–academia collaboration and create a rich ecosystem for incubation and innovation. Appreciating the unique natural heritage of the Institute, the strategic plan has the objective of developing the Mahatma Gandhi University campus into a model university campus in terms of sustainability, usage of energy and water and recycling of materials.

Research

To achieve goals related to raising the quantum of research output and improving its quality, School of Energy Materials will adopt a multi-pronged strategy addressing the issues of enhancing the number of research scholars and the faculty strength and of augmenting resources. Some measures are already being implemented.

A major initiative is a plan to develop focussed centres of excellence in the department on areas with potentially large societal impact. Research at the School of Energy Materials will be carried out through an industrial membership programme and an Advisory Board consisting of representatives from the various stakeholders including key industry partners. The deployment of professional management and contract staff will be a feature of the centres. A formal mechanism will be instituted for life cycle management of the centres of excellence.

A number of measures are planned that are aimed at improving research:

  • Improving the research input in terms of both human and physical resources.
  • Creating a better ambience for research by providing greater flexibility to encourage performance of faculty members and scholars while continually improving research infrastructure.
  • A process for continuous corrective action at the Institute, department, group and personal levels to achieve excellence. Publication in top journals and presentation at venues where the world’s leading researchers are present will be encouraged. A significant quantum of research will originate from problems identified as a result of the faculty’s engagement with industry. Research output will be assessed periodically, and early-career faculty members will be assisted in every way possible to enhance their productivity.
  • Improving research scholar intake. The Mahatma Gandhi University is already implementing a number of measures towards this goal. The Institute is reaching out to the best feeder institutions. Direct Ph.D. admission for Energy Science and Technology is an option for top B.Tech. and B.E. students. Interdisciplinary M.S. and Ph.D. research is being encouraged, and the top M.S., M.Tech. and M.Sc. students have the option to upgrade to the Ph.D. programme. Mahatma Gandhi University seeks to evolve towards a highly competitive selection process for Ph.D. candidates.
  • Enhanced financial support. Sponsorship of Ph.D. scholars by industry will be developed. Support can be in the form of total sponsorship or top-up scholarship. Stipends are to be enhanced with top-ups from projects and alumni contributions.
  • Enhanced post-doctoral fellowships policy. Measures proposed to foster the post-doctoral research programme include enhanced stipends, greater independence and periodic advertisement for positions.
  • Improvement of the research ambience. Induction of foreign research scholars is one of the long-term measures to be adopted.
  • High-impact initiatives such as the creation of special research zones, or discovery parks, with visual impact are also planned. The thrust of these parks is on broad inter-departmental areas.
  • Further, a host of complementary measures are envisaged: (1) A large number of Ph.D. students will be able to obtain international experience for one semester or more. (2) A conference facilitation cell is to be developed. This cell will assist in hosting important conferences that will improve the visibility of the school. The cell will also develop support for travel grants. (3) Lectures by leading scientists from all over the world will be held regularly. (4) Industry and academia will be pro-actively approached for good placement of graduating M.S. and Ph.D. scholars. (5) Graduating research students will be groomed in all aspects to become professionals and academics who are keenly sought by employers.
  • Improving the amenities of research scholars is one of the measures identified by the strategic plan. Researchers need to have sufficient individual work space and well-appointed reading rooms in their departments. In addition to workshop facilities, they will have access to other engineering services. They will enjoy enhanced hours of library access. Twenty-four hour cafeterias will be provided in the academic zone in addition to the hostel zone.

These steps require funds broadly under the heads of institutional facilities, enhanced stipends, student exchange programmes and participation in conferences. They will be supported by industrial consultancy and by contributions from alumni and industry, apart from the Institute’s own resources.The Institute will periodically analyse its research output using third-party services. Departmental reviews will be conducted by visiting committees of experts from academia and industry once every five years in the context of departmental action plans. Interdisciplinary research, infrastructure, recruitment and admission will be institutionally promoted.

Course Programmes

    The course programmes at School of Energy Materials are developed with well-defined objective and outcomes. An undergraduate may develop a liking for a different or allied discipline, while a post-graduate may change his/her goal from a job to further studies and a career in research. In order to enable students to meet their changing objectives, the strategic plan aims to introduce flexibility in the Departments curriculum through a wide choice of electives. The curriculum will be structured such that the core course component makes up around 50 percent and opportunities for multi-disciplinary diversification through electives are maximized. Thus, a student will have the freedom to choose, as electives, nearly half the courses that he or she must complete to obtain a degree.

A strategy of introducing curricular flexibility is adopted to sustain the interest of all students, both high performers and those with difficulties. The traditional emphasis on hands-on laboratory training has been maintained despite the increase in number of students. Undergraduate labs needs to be modernized and expanded. This is an ongoing process and will continue in the years ahead.Further, the means by which undergraduate students could obtain research-based credits are being explored. These may take the form of hands on learning and research projects. Undergraduate students may also obtain credits through research oriented self-learning.With an increased student strength, the number of students in each class is increasing, calling for exploring non-traditional forms of pedagogy. Conventional chalk-and-talk teaching will continue to have its place of pride in the teaching–learning environment. However, self-learning and learning in groups will be encouraged. Larger classes will have high-quality tutorials and discussion groups of smaller size.

Online teaching will be used as an aid to class room teaching. Contact hours in the classroom will not be compromised. The Teaching–Learning Centre will be used to encourage exploration of new teaching systems. There will be a continued focus on seamless integration of first-year (both undergraduate and postgraduate) students entering from diverse backgrounds. Students will be assisted pro-actively in the first year so that they perform well. Postgraduate programmes will be tailored to enable customisation for both seekers of jobs in industry and future researchers.

Live online access to courses will be provided to teachers in colleges aspiring to take up Ph.D. programmes. Outreach programmes will be extended to engineering college students through NPTEL courses and massive open online courses (MOOCs)—since such initiatives are part of the charter of what School of Energy Materials wishes to achieve using technology. The Institute also plans to introduce interactive online evening courses for professionals in industry, with certification. A bouquet of carefully selected courses could lead to an M.Tech degree as well.

The strategic plan includes faculty-centric initiatives aimed at enhancing the quality of teaching. Top-quality Ph.Ds, preferably with some industry experience, will be recruited. At induction, all faculty members will be encouraged to undergo a programme in teaching–learning. Their teaching responsibilities and accountability will be clearly enunciated. In addition, the Institute plans to induct “Professors of Practice” from industry veterans with vast experience and practical knowledge. They will teach specialized electives in their area, drive collaboration with industry, take up new projects and co-supervise students, giving them a hands-on perspective. Assessments of teaching performance will be a factor in awarding promotions. Special programmes will be prescribed for those in need of improvement. There will be a system of awards and recognition for excellence in teaching and mentoring. A smooth entry-to-exit online process is being put in place to handle a student’s academic progress. This will minimise the administrative overhead for faculty members. Information relating to the performance of students will be made available online through a secure system. Another technological initiative is the provision of a course management platform for managing multiple pedagogical approaches such as conventional teaching, online courses and group learning.

Sponsored Research and Industrial Consulting

A Sponsored Research Development Office is to be created that will identify and assist with the definition of research projects and creation of centres of excellence by the faculty in a manner that meets the objectives of sponsors of research. An Industry Relations Office, which will foster relations with industry in India and abroad and help discover research objectives of mutual interest, will be set up.

The Mahatma Gandhi University will continue to grow its patent portfolio by pursuing a policy of active patenting and commercialisation, with a goal of doubling the number of patents filed per year by 2030.

Human Resources

School of Energy Materials recognises human resources as the most important among the assets needed to realise its aspirations. Falling within the domain of this function are the activities of need-identification, recruitment, training and development, personnel administration and evaluation of performance. The human capital of Mahatma Gandhi University consists of its students, research scholars, faculty and staff. Whereas the Institute continues to attract the best undergraduate and postgraduate students in the country every year.

Placement

Placement of students, which has traditionally been good, will be fine-tuned to meet the aspirations of the students and expectations of employers. Postgraduate programmes will be flexible to enable customisation for seekers of jobs. Students will be trained to position their research or project work and to match their specialised knowledge with job opportunities. The Institute will pro-actively reach out to industry and academia for good placement of graduating research scholars. M.Sc. and Ph.D. students will be groomed in all aspects to become professionals who are keenly sought by employers. Mahatma Gandhi University will encourage and support overall development of students in numerous ways. Among the benefits of such development is the advantage it bestows for employment. Students will be provided career counseling from midway through their study programmes.

Internationalisation

The Mahatma Gandhi University efforts to be recognised as a global leader in education and research are resulting in increased international interest in the Institute. The Institute already has a growing exchange programme and collaborations. The Institute seeks to increase the quantum of exchange of both undergraduate students and research scholars with foreign universities. The emphasis will be on joint innovative student projects for the former, and collaborative research for the latter. The University also has the goal of increasing the level of faculty exchange. Faculty members participating in international collaborations will be involved in exchange programmes. Well-planned steps will be taken to meet these objectives: Research interest mapping. Faculty across leading academic institutions will be paired with Mahatma Gandhi University faculty based on overlapping research interests in order to collaborate and co-supervise the research work of exchange scholars. Joint Ph.D. programmes will be set up with universities that have a thriving exchange programme with the Institute. Such programmes will serve as magnets for research scholars. Engagement with industry. This will be in the form of three-way interactions (Mahatma Gandhi University, academic partner and industry) and joint projects.

Alumni Relations

Mahatma Gandhi University will continue to build mutually beneficial relations with its alumni so that a range of modes of engagement can be explored. Steps that will be taken to achieve this objective include the following:

  • Increasing the presence of the Institute in social media to promote engagement between alumni, students and faculty members.
  • Tele-calling and other personalised efforts to actively engage with alumni
  • Increasing the number of face-to-face meetings Creating more opportunities for alumni to spend time on campus and engage with students and faculty.

          Alumni will be encouraged to support activities of the University as well as School of Energy Materials in multiple dimensions: nurturing Mahatama Gandhi University – industry relations, facilitating interactions between aspiring students, faculty entrepreneurs and alumni entrepreneurs, transforming fund-raising to a professionally managed development effort and, in the case of alumni faculty members of foreign universities, catalysing collaborations.

Research Plan for Next 20 Years

Next Twenty years the School of Energy Materials looking forward to focus on research areas that can extend the availability and usefulness of technology and its advancement to our society directly by implementing and enhancing advanced Renewable Energy Technologies. The School believe that this will certainly enhance their quality of living. These are some of research problems;

School of Energy Materials aims to spans the entire hydrogen value chain, including carbon-free generation, distribution, storage, utilization, policy and economics. Hydrogen is unique in that it offers a zero-carbon alternative that one can envision being applied to many different sectors within the existing global energy system including transportation, grid storage, and industries that have traditionally been hard to decarbonize such as steel and cement. We take a holistic and pragmatic view of future energy systems and seek innovative ways to integrate low-carbon solutions, such as coupling hydrogen with batteries to realize flexible energy storage, as well as leveraging existing infrastructure such as the natural gas system.