The innovative, transnational IITB-Monash Research Academy has produced its first four PhD graduates, two of whom have already gained employment with industry heavyweights.
Based in Mumbai, the Academy was established in 2008 by Monash University and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay with the aim of tackling the grand challenges facing both India and Australia. The inaugural graduation ceremony was held over the weekend at the IIT Bombay campus.
Academy students reap the benefits of supervisors in two countries, exposure to industry and a jointly badged PhD. The Academy has established a number of industry and research partnerships, including with CSIRO, BHPB and Orica Mining Services in Australia, and Infosys, Reliance Industries, Jindal Steel Works and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) in India.
The first four graduates – Siddharth Gadkari, Shamsuddin N. Ladha, Vikram Vishal and Gunjan Gupta – have tackled diverse projects, from improving carbon dioxide sequestration to developing a corrosion-resistant conducting polymer coating for aeronautical applications.
Dr Ladha, who developed an intelligent and interactive projection system has taken on a role with Infosys Labs – the organisation’s research and innovation hub. Dr Gadkari, who investigated electrospinning, a process with potential applications from filtration to drug delivery, has been employed by COMSOL. Dr Vikram may take up a postdoctoral position with IIT Kharagpur.
Vice-Chancellor and President of Monash, Professor Ed Byrne said the first graduation ceremony was a landmark occasion in the Academy’s history.
“The establishment of the Academy was a bold experiment that sought to establish the next generation of research leaders and increase research linkages between Australia and India,” Professor Byrne said.
“The rapidly increasing number of joint projects between IITB and Monash researchers, and the fact that our first graduates have already found employment, is evidence that the experiment has proved successful.”
The Academy is organised around six major themes: Advanced Computational Engineering, Simulation and Manufacture; Infrastructure Engineering; Biotechnology and Stem Cell Research; Clean energy; Water; and Nanotechnology.
CEO of the Academy, Professor Mohan Krishnamoorthy, said enrolments – currently at 130 – were expected to build to 300 in the next few years.
“The Academy is continuing to expand at an impressive rate,” Professor Krishnamoorthy said.
“Although our first intake of students was just four years ago, there are more than 70 publications in peer-reviewed journals and two patents associated with The Academy. Our approach of focusing our research on real-world issues is the right course.”