Monday, November 21, 2011

IITK Professor elected as an IEEE Fellow

Here is an email from our Dean of Faculty Affairs:

Another feather in now what is arguably becoming a very crowded cap of Prof. Kalyanmoy Deb! I am extremely happy to inform you that Prof. Kalyanmoy Deb of the Mechanical Engineering Department has been elected as an IEEE  Fellow.  This rare distinction has been conferred on Prof. Deb for contributions to revolutionary multi-criterion optimization techniques.

Readers of this blog may recall that Infosys Science Foundation has announced his name as the recipient of Infosys Prize just a few days ago, and just a few days earlier, he was selected for J C Bose Fellowship. Here is the link to his website.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Indo-EU Workshop on QA in Higher Technical Education (at IITK)

Today, I spent the whole day away from office. IIT Kanpur is hosting the Indo-European Workshop on Quality Assurance in Higher Technical Education. We had speakers from Univ. of Lausanne, Switzerland, Lund University, Sweden, besides the local speakers from IIT Kanpur. The speakers from Europe had done tremendous amount of research in higher education, and it was a pleasure to listen to them. Every time I attend such a workshop (I attended one in February 2011 at Delhi also), I learn more about the teaching learning process, and I start hoping that one day, IITK will feel the need to have a center for research in higher technical education, which could provide us advice on issues that we face in teaching. But the attendance was very disappointing. From about 15 faculty members from IITK in the morning, it dwindled to about 5 in the last session - and almost all of them were the organizers.

The kind of support that such a center in Lund University provides to its faculty includes all aspects of teaching learning process, and even how to improve interaction with PhD students. A typical response of a faculty member in most such matters is, "I am a PhD, and I have taught for so long. My students are doing so well in life. I don't need no training to become a better teacher." I hope that they would at least try and see how expert help can convert a good teacher into an even better teacher.

There was a talk on assessing and rewarding excellence in teaching. And I realize we don't do even the obvious. The speaker said that there are four stages of assessment - deciding criteria on which assessment is made, collecting evidence that criteria are met, standards to judge the evidence, and an open and transparent process to match all this. And he gave example of all this as they follow in their university. When I look at awards at IITK, the criteria are often broad and ill-defined, the evidence is hearsay amongst the committee members, there is no peer review, and there is no way to find out who were nominated, what were their achievements, and why the award was given to someone.

There was an interesting observation by one speaker. Most of us have no problems with peers reviewing our research, but we don't want our teaching to be peer reviewed. As a professional, why shouldn't all output of ours be peer reviewed?

The workshop continues tomorrow. I am really looking forward to it.

Here is the workshop homepage. I have been told that all presentations will be uploaded soon.

Friday, November 18, 2011

H K Firodia Award for IITK Professor

May be I should rename this blog as "IITK Awards Announcement Blog." Too many awards to keep track of. Yesterday, in a ceremony at Pune, one of my colleagues and a batchmate from IITK student days, Manindra Agrawal, was presented H K Firodia Award for 2011. The citation particularly mentions the cryptography work that he has done and the encryption algorithms that he has developed for Indian Armed forces. So here is a theoretician who solves practical problems.

And interestingly enough, just like the Infosys Prize that we wrote about 2 days ago, some other recipients of H K Firodia Award also have a strong IIT Kanpur connection. Prof. C N R Rao, not only spent the early part of his career in IIT Kanpur, he was also Chairman, Board of Governors of IIT Kanpur a few years ago. He received the Firodia lifetime achievement award.

Congratulations to both Manindra and Prof. Rao.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Infosys Prize 2011 to IITK Professor

The Infosys Science Foundation announced yesterday the winners of the Infosys Prize 2011, recognizing outstanding contributions in scientific research across five categories - Mathematical Sciences, Physical Sciences, Engineering and Computer Science, Life Sciences and Social Sciences- Economics and Political Sciences & International Relations.

Prof. Kalyanmoy Deb, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at IIT Kanpur, has been awarded in the Engineering and Computer Science area. Prof. Deb is a highly decorated scientist and researcher who has received every major honor that a scientist can get in India. This includes Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award too. He had recently received J C Bose Fellowship as well.

He has made extensive contributions to various areas of research: Optimization, Optimal Design, Computer Aided Design, Artificial Intelligence, Genetic Algorithms, and Soft Computing. One of his papers in IEEE Transactions on Evolutionary Computation has received more than 2500 citations.

In the 4 years of its existence (it started with a sole prize for Mathematics in 2008), the Infosys Prize has been awarded to three professors of IIT Kanpur. (None from other IITs.) We also have many IITK alumni amongst the awardees. It is a matter of pride for all of us at IIT Kanpur.