[Fsf-friends] Microsoft to set up university in (Bangalore)city

Mon Jul 16 03:39:35 IST 2007

MNC                inroads in academia — winners all!
             Sudipta                Dev/ Mumbai
                                                         The                relationship between the industry and academia is poised at an interesting                turning point with foreign IT majors aggressively making inroads                into the Indian academic world. With organisations like IBM, Cisco                and Microsoft making concerted efforts to enhance industry-based                learning, tie-ups with Indian varsities and other academic institutions                have become a common phenomenon. For the students, the company and                the institution, this is seen as a win-win situation—the target                being the country’s large talent pool who are being trained                to bridge the skills gap and consequently increase the user base                of the products. 
              For                the institution, the advantages are obvious—they want to make                their students saleable in the job market and be known as attractive                academic destinations. Furthermore, the alliance helps them get                closer to the industry. Frank Luksic, country manager for software                and developer relations at IBM India, candidly states the objective                of his organisation: “Our aim is to bridge the gap between                the demand and supply for our technology.” The IBM University                Programme (which was initiated in India in July 2001), is a strategic                initiative between the organisation and academic institutions to                increase the availability of skills on IBM software technologies.
              Under                this programme, education programmes are incorporated on the company’s                software technologies within the framework of the university syllabus.                IBM provides licensed versions of software (DB2, Websphere application                server family and Visual Age for Java), along with training to the                institution staff and facilities for courseware development. MoUs                have already been signed with 97 colleges, with plans to increase                the number extensively. These include institutions like IIT Roorkee                and the IIMs (Ahmedabad, Lucknow, New Delhi), etc. Five competency                centres have also been set up across the country, as a part of this                programme. While institutions have to make sizeable investment in                the process, the students get the additional benefit of getting                trained on IBM software without paying any
 additional fee. IBM has                also been organising competitions like the Great Minds Challenge                and Linux Scholar Challenge, apart from events like University Day                and Certification Day. 
              Successful                initiatives
              While                similar programmes exist in countries like the US and China, according                to Luksic, in India this has been a highly successful initiative.                The last 12 months have seen almost 5,500 students being certified                under this programme, the target for next year is to double the                number of certifications and increase coverage. Additional units                will also be added in the curriculum (e.g. Rational). For IBM India,                the University Programme is not a revenue model but an investment                programme, acknowledges Luksic. The target is singular—certifying                the maximum number of people. 
              Cisco                has been partnering with technical colleges since the year 2000                to impart networking education to students under the Cisco Networking                Academy Programme. “This is a worldwide philanthropic programme                aimed at creating a trained manpower that can address the growing                need of networking professionals resulting from the way the Internet                is changing every sphere of life,” says Manoj Chugh, Cisco                Systems’ president for India and SAARC. There are more than                10,450 such academies across 149 countries, including India and                other SAARC countries, namely Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal                and Sri Lanka. Chugh reminds that when the company’s CEO John                Chambers visited India in January 2001, he promised to set up a                Cisco Networking Academy in every state and union territory. The               
 success of the programme can be judged from the fact that the company                currently has 84 networking academies across 20 states in India,                while there are 20 more in other SAARC countries. 
              The                Networking Academy Programme has four semesters based on the principles                and practice of design, building and maintaining networks capable                of supporting national and global organisations. “In a lab                setting that closely corresponds to the real world, students get                their hands on the building blocks of today’s global information                networks, learning by doing as they design local and wide-area networks,”                says Chugh. The company has also introduced sponsored curriculum                initiatives by Hewlett-Packard, Panduit Corp and Sun Microsystems.                Additional courses on security, wireless and VoIP will be launched                in the academies by the end of 2003.
              The                investment factor
              Cisco                believes that India’s global advantage is its manpower and                is consequently investing $8.6 million in setting up the networking                academies (one each in every state and union territory) in India.                The names of a few education institutions with which the company                has tied up include Anna University (Chennai), Guru Gobind Singh                Indraprastha University (Delhi), and MS University (Baroda). “As                per IDC, the global shortage of networking professionals by 2003                will be 1.4 million approximately. Gartner Group states
              that                through 2004, a shortage of networking professionals will mean that                30 percent of enterprises will be unable to support the onslaught                of new applications they are building,” states Chugh, adding                that the company’s proficient networking education programme                presents India and SAARC with a unique opportunity to leverage its                manpower and address the local and global demand for networking                professionals. 
              Empowering                the academia
              In                the ever-changing world of information technology, it is not only                significant to train students in the latest technologies but the                instructors must also be well-versed and certified in the technologies.                “This is where Microsoft fits in. The academic community plays                a critical role in the software ecosystem as the launching pad for                the next generation of developers, and Microsoft is committed to                the development of the same,” says Sanjiv Mathur, head of marketing                at Microsoft Corporation India. He adds, “We support the teaching                environment and experience by providing departments with curriculum                assistance, classroom training materials, and cutting edge technology.                We also undertake activities like assistance in setting-up teaching                laboratories and other computation facilities by
 providing software                development tools, documentation and hardware. In addition, we support                individual faculty members through training, financial support,                software grants and documentations and also special events like                the Faculty Summit which is held every year at Redmond.” 
              Microsoft                has been working very closely with the academic community worldwide,                primarily under two initiatives-the University Relations Programme                and the Academic Developer Programme. Mathur informs that the University                Relations Programme is for institutions with interest and experience                in research and links Microsoft research with Indian researchers.                “The Academic Developer Programme is a reiteration of our commitment                to developing the academic community in India, and extends the work                being done through the University Relations Programme in India.                It is targeted at the technical and engineering colleges, and is                aimed at building skills in the future developer community.”                
              Under                this initiative, a .Net Centre of Excellence was set up at Anna                University Chennai. An MoU was also signed with the Visveswaraiah                Technology University in Karnataka, under which Microsoft will provide                the 102 colleges affiliated to the varsity with access to .Net 
              development                tools and technologies. Microsoft’s .Net Campus Challenge is                aimed at discovering the world’s youngest developers, while                the Student Champ Programme identifies a student champion in every                varsity who is responsible for Microsoft-led activities.
              Microsoft                has also committed to spending $20 million (Rs 96 crore) as a part                of its Project Shiksha initiative in India, in the next five years.                Under this programme, the company will partner with state governments                to build state-of-the-art IT academies in the country. It aims to                provide IT literacy and skills development to more than 80,000 teachers                and 35 lakh students in the next five years. The project includes                a student as well as a teacher scholarship programme. An online                community of teachers is being set up for sharing practices and                experiences with their peers worldwide.
              “At                the heart of Microsoft’s vision for the future of education                is the Connected Learning Community, an environment that builds                connections, removes limitations and creates opportunities for the                21st century learners to achieve their goals. New computing devices,                powerful software and explosion of Web services will continue to                evolve, enabling learning a learning anytime, anywhere, on any device,”                says Mathur. 
              While                students and institutions in India are evidently a happy lot with                the new alliances, Indian industrial houses evidently have many                lessons to learn for their own benefit.
             THE                BENEFICIARIES
                     The industry : Bridging of skills gap. 
                     Companies                  : Increase in user-base of their products; more certifications.                  
                     Students                  : Better job prospects, in India and abroad.
                     Institutions                  : Make students sale-able in the job market; be known as attractive                  academic destination for future students.

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