[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 situationthe target being the countrys 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 obviousthey 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 companys 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.
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 singularcertifying 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 companys 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 todays 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 Indias 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 companys 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. Microsofts .Net Campus Challenge is aimed at discovering the worlds 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 Microsofts 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 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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