31 July 2017 15:53:27 IST

State-of-the-art facilities for freshers at IIT-M

Solar powered classrooms, a safety app, and coaching on life-skills and well-being are all on offer

The new academic sessions of the B.Tech, B.Tech-M.Tech (dual Degree) and MA degrees began today at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras.

Addressing the students and parents at the recent orientation session, Prof Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director, IIT-Madras, said that “the academic programmes at the Institute are designed so that students have adequate time to pursue co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, along with their studies.”

He urged the incoming students to lead a disciplined life and be sensitive towards the animals residing on campus — the deer, blackbuck and monkeys.

Prof. Ramamurthi also urged the parents to tell their wards to get adequate sleep and rest. “Parents should tell their children that they should never miss their breakfast,” he added.

Solar-powered classrooms

Two solar-powered classroom complexes — the Raman and Ramanujan Blocks — exclusively for freshmen, were inaugurated by Prof Ramamurthi on July 21. Constructed at a cost of ₹7.7 crore, they are energy-efficient green buildings featuring several pioneering concepts. The entire building is powered by a 10 kW Solar PV system, which directly supplies at 48V DC (an inverterless system). It also has novel DC-based electrical system with highly efficient DC lights and fans.

The building designs were modified to accommodate the existing trees. The tree cover around the complex has been preserved. The total floor area of the two blocks combined is 33,571 sq ft. The buildings have excellent north-south ventilation and ample natural lighting.

They feature designer blackboards and classrooms, and are equipped for laptop plug-ins, connectivity and other amenities.

Each block houses six 84-seater classrooms. Total capacity of both blocks combined is 1,008 seats. Most classes for the first-year students will be held in these 12 classrooms.

Mobile app for safety

The Institute is beefing up the use of a mobile app for students’ safety this academic year. The app, which was being used as a pilot project in previous years, will send out an alert if a student, who perceives he/she is in some sort of danger, presses the power button twice, explained Prof. Sivakumar M. Srinivasan, Dean (Students), IIT Madras.

Explaining its’ features, he said that a set of numbers including the Security Personnel have been pre-loaded on to this app. Once a student activates the app, an alert along with the real-time location of the student in distress will go to all the pre-loaded numbers.

Solar vehicle

IIT-Madras is launching, as a pilot project this year, a solar-powered pedal-assisted vehicle to help differently abled hostel students travel to their classrooms. The vehicle will have a seating capacity of four. Based on the requirement, this project will be scaled up in near future. The vehicle was designed by Pi Beam Labs, a start-up incubated at the IIT-Madras Incubation Cell.

Other initiatives

As part of the peer-assisted training programme, a senior will help an allotted group of about three or four freshers in a few subjects such as Maths, Physics and Thermodynamics and guide them in solving problems.

A ‘Life Skills’ course, in two modules, is also being offered for new students as a structured way of induction in the first two semesters for all the undergraduate students. The course initiates them into thinking about the purpose of life, leading to their questioning the purpose of their engineering education. The course covers values such as empathy, care for nature, aspirations and gender diversity.

Several systems, structures and activities are in place at IIT-M to promote emotional well-being of the students. It consists of student bodies, faculty mentors, chief mentor, wardens, professional counsellors, telephonic and online counselling services, and psychiatrists. It focusses on the following aspects: mental wellness; physical well-being; social adaptation; academic support: infrastructure support; and team building and motivational events.