MFF Collaborates on School of Data Science and AI

The Indian Institute of Technology (IITG) and Bhupat & Jyoti Mehta Family Foundation signed a memorandum of understanding in early May with the objective of promoting undergraduate and postgraduate studies in the fields of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence.

The collaboration to set up the Mehta Family School of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence at IITG will usher in new opportunities for students at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. The first batch of the school’s B. Tech students will be admitted in the academic year 2021-22.

T.G. Sitharam, IITG director, and Rahul Mehta, MFF chief executive officer, signed the memorandum virtually in the presence of Dr. Rajiv I Modi, IITG’s Board of Governors chairman, and Professor Krishnaswamy Vijayraghavan, the Government of India’s Principal Scientific Advisor. Professor Sandeep Verma, India’s Science and Engineering Research Board secretary, attended as a special guest.

“IITG has always endeavored to play a leadership role by diversifying the flavor of its academic programs,” Sitharam said. “The Mehta Family School of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence is another important initiative…that will bridge the gap of highly skilled personnel that exists in these emerging fields. I take this opportunity to thank the Mehta Family Foundation for its enormous support in establishing this school, which will offer both undergraduate and postgraduate programs, B. Tech in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence from this academic year.” Sitharam said he was hopeful the school will attract the best talent in India to join the program. The school will also establish academic faculty chairs to attract world-class talent.

MFF supports the school’s infrastructure and programs, which attracts some of the best rising talent from India and abroad, as well as some of the world’s leading technical faculty members.

“The explosion of data across all fields of knowledge continues unabated,” MFF Director Rahul said. “Just like computer science changed the world, data science and artificial intelligence are posed to do the same. These fields will shape the methods used in education and research across the spectrum of human knowledge. Together, we will build the framework for the future”

As a global interdisciplinary collaboration, the new school is intended to increase worldwide understanding of society and nature. Professor Shankar Subramaniam and Professor Rajesh Gupta of the University of California San Diego and Professor Ananth Grama from Purdue University anchor the school’s world-class faculty. The distinguished professors provide time and expertise for School of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence academic and research activities and act as strategic advisors. The school’s arrangement represents the first of its kind in India.

“With the available expertise, I believe IIT Guwahati will take up this school as a foundation to set up data collection sites in the eastern region of the country for various sectors such as healthcare, climate, transportation, security, and other areas and convert the huge data into effective knowledge and understanding to serve the society in a better way,” Vijayraghavan said.

Professor R. Bhattacharjee will lead the school, a bastion of academic excellence imparting state-of-the-art teaching, research and technology development in frontier areas of data science and artificial intelligence. The school’s curriculum provides students a strong theoretical foundation and emphasizes interdisciplinary application areas. “One of the objectives of the school is to take up targeted multi-year interdisciplinary research projects and solve the problems which benefit society at large, a deep-rooted vision of IITG,” Bhattacharjee said. The close association and support from Mehta Family Foundation has added an international flavor to this school from its very inception.”

Other virtual attendees to the memorandum of understanding signing included Professor Sashindra Kakoty, IITG Deputy Director, Professor Chitralekha Mahanta, IITG Dean of Academic Affairs, Professor T. Unniyamurthy, IITG Dean of Faculty Affairs, and Professor Parameswar K. Iyer, IITG Dean PRBR. Each expressed enthusiasm for and appreciation of the broad activities of this school in brief statements.

MFF has supported worldwide initiatives to improve access to education and quality of life since 2001. MFF actively builds degree programs to improve educational opportunities and economic outcomes for individuals and society. Today, the organization strives to improve university research capacity by building partnerships with global institutions. Through its MFF CARE initiative, the organization partners directly with leading academics, connecting international faculty and subject matter experts and developing academic institutions. MFF CARE provides the necessary expertise and infrastructure to launch new doctoral, master’s, and bachelor’s degree programs in fields relevant to India. MFF CARE team members share their experience, knowledge, and leadership in a variety of engagement opportunities to ensure the rapid and successful development of new departments and programs.