IIT Kanpur, one of the premier institutes in the country, has pioneered several visionary educational and research initiatives since its inception. Continuing Institute’s rich legacy in identifying futuristic areas of strategic and social importance, the Institute has now taken a step towards the creation of the department of Sustainable Energy Engineering with an aim of becoming a vital contributor to nation’s growing clean and renewable energy sector by generating high quality scientific and technological know-how and human resources. The Board of Governors of IIT Kanpur has accorded its approval in a meeting held on 7th December 2020, as informed by Prof. Abhay Karandikar, Director, IIT Kanpur. Dr. K Radhakrishnan, Chairman of the Board of Governors of IIT Kanpur said that “starting an academic department in this area is a vital initiative serving the educational and technology development related needs of the country. He commended the institute on achieving this milestone despite the disruptions caused by the pandemic”. Prof. Karandikar mentioned that, “this initiative comes at an opportune time when the Indian government has committed to source at least 40% of its energy requirement from clean and renewable energy sources by 2030, as pledged in the Paris Agreement. Prof. Karandikar also said that the new department also aims to contribute to India’s bid to become a global leader in the widespread adoption of sustainable energy technologies impacting a variety of sectors such as electricity and transportation”.
In consonance with above mentioned national aspirations, the new department envisions to develop high-quality academic programmes at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. IITK Director Prof. Karandikar said that the new department’s academic programmes shall aim to provide multiple skill-sets to its students, with relevant courses from core engineering disciplines blended with sciences and humanities. The curriculum will train the students to become well-rounded energy engineers who will become assets to the industry as well as academia and research organizations.
Furthermore, it will engage in cutting-edge research in frontier and futuristic areas related to energy sustainability with clear focus on new, renewable and alternate energy technologies. Prof. Karandikar told that “the Department’s research will be classified under four major verticals of energy capture and generation, energy storage and distribution, alternative fuels as well as energy, environment and policy”. He also said that “the new department will also emphasize on the translation of its research outcomes into indigenous technology development, prototyping and commercialization, in alignment with Indian government’s flagship programmes such as Make in India, Skill India, Swachchha Bharat and Atmanirbhar Bharat”. Prof. Ashish Garg, who is coordinating the efforts related to the new Department, said that “the current research focus of the new department will be on energy generation via solar, wind and other clean resources; batteries and supercapacitors; energy storage and distribution; smart grids; carbon capture; clean alternative fuels; waste-to-energy; clean water; and energy policy and economics. The research portfolio will further expand into new areas as the department grows and matures.”
In the past decade, IIT Kanpur has made several strides in the pursuit of global outreach for targeted collaborations and joint programmes with many leading institutions of the world. A similar initiative in the energy domain includes a partnership with Rice University (USA), resulting in the creation of a collaborative research centre which will also be a part of the new department. The new department will continue to forge such synergistic collaborations with leading national and international universities, aiming for widespread impact.
The department will also mobilize economic resources to build state-of-the-art laboratories necessary for successful implementation of educational and research programs and will tie-up with various government and non-governmental organizations. In this campaign, the US-based Mehta Family Foundation has come forward to help the nucleation of the new Department. Foundation’s President and CEO Shri Rahul Mehta congratulated the institute on the establishment of the new department and said that the opening of this department is an appropriate step for India keeping in view the future energy requirements. Mr. Mehta said that the Foundation will partner with the Department in this important journey and would like to see the Department and Rice-IITK’s Collaborative Research Center setting new dimensions in the field of energy sustainability, inspiring next generation of the country to work in this field.