Founded in 1996 by Shiv Nadar, a great industrialist, philanthropist, and the Chairman of HCL Technologies, SSN College of Engineering has been focusing on seamlessly integrating research in teaching right since its inception. The institutions, with their diverse and dynamic community of students offer a distinctive combination of some of the finest graduate, undergraduate and research programs, accomplished faculty, world class facilities and a residential campus set on a sprawling 250 acres of sylvan surroundings.
Research is the buzzword of SSN College of Engineering, Chennai. The last three years have seen faculty members of SSN publishing more than 1500 papers in reputed journals. “Research should be one of the key cornerstones of educational institutions. Effective teaching can only take place when there is new knowledge creation and effective dissemination of this knowledge. Institutions should not only encourage research activities among its faculty, but also should strive to give a flavor of research to its students at all levels.” opines Kala Vijayakumar, President, SSN Institutions. Be it in academics, research, sports, co-curricular or extra-curricular activities, SSN students are well rounded with holistic development and shine across various fields.
“In research alone, over 220 students from SSN published 198 papers in reputed international journals in the year 2017-18. In the last three years over 600 papers have been published by our undergraduate students in various reputed international journals. Nowhere in the Indian context are such large number of papers being published by undergraduate students,” says Kala Vijayakumar. One of the outcomes of focusing on research is the performance of SSN students in the in the Smart India Hackathon, the world’s biggest Hackathon organized by the Ministry of Human Resource Department. SSN students have won first prize in this contest for the past three years. In 2018-19, as many as 7 teams won the first prize from across 48 centers in the country.
At SSN, faculty members and students have filed for 11 patents in the last one year and over 41 patents in the last three years. Kala Vijayakumar proudly adds, “Till date our faculty members have received external funding of Rs. 28 crores from various reputed agencies for their research projects for over 100 projects.” The institute has established a dedicated and independent SSN Research Centre helmed by senior scientists and doyens in their field to work on cutting edge research programs. In addition to that, six centers of excellence have been set up in SSN College of Engineering to encourage interdepartmental research and collaborations. Eleven departments of SSN have also been recognized as research centres to offer PhD degrees. At present, SSN has around 275 faculty members and among them 225 are PhD holders.
“Prototype of a Bionic Arm developed by the researchers from Biomedical department and a unique Solar charging vehicle by using DC converter developed by researchers from the Electrical department are a few examples of popular products we have developed are. Both are in advanced stages of commercialization now,” says Kala Vijayakumar. SSN provides seed money to its faculty for innovative research proposals and around Rs. 1 crore funding was provided to them in the year 2018-19. “For students, we have unique schemes to encourage them to undertake research projects. One such scheme is STIRS (Stimuli for Technological Innovation & Research for Students),” shares Kala Vijayakumar.
Under the STIRS scheme, SSN funds students’ potential research projects, which are over and beyond the academic projects that the students must complete. While, the students’ projects are expected to either result in a publication in an international journal or a prototype which can be patented, in 2018-19 over 197 such projects were funded by SSN amounting to Rs. 30 lakhs under the STIRS scheme. “We also have an Innovation Centre dedicated to creating prototypes by encouraging students to work on their ideas. The motto of the center is “Walk-in with an idea and Walk-out with a product.” This is a space open 24X7 for students to give shape to their ideas and creativity,” says Kala Vijayakumar.
To support the entrepreneurial spirit of the students further, SSN has collaborated with the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Government of India. The institute also has dedicated Incubation Centre inside the campus to provide facility and mentorship to the students. “Till date four projects have applied for entrepreneurship support from MSME for incubation. These include such varied areas as Sigh Language to Speech Device for hearing impaired, Ozonized water processing, Biofuels from waste plastics, Degradable bags from Shrimp waste among others,” shares Kala Vijayakumar.
On the other side, SSN has made strong collaborations with industry players as well as universities across the globe. Kala Vijayakumar pinpoints, “Global partnerships are essential to bring in international best practices and perspectives to Indian educational institutions. We have actively sought out collaborations with reputed global institutions in India and abroad. In fact, SSN is the longest international partner of Carnegie Mellon University. The collaboration was firmed up way back in 2001. Apart from offering a joint program for students, this collaboration has been immensely beneficial in shaping various aspects of SSN. Among other important global collaboration of SSN include the Tsing Hua University, Taiwan, Sri Ramachandra Medical College among others.
“We have also tied up with various industries for mutually beneficial activities in research and innovation. Till date we have signed research collaborations with over 52 industry partners,” adds Kala Vijayakumar. The areas of collaborations include joint research, projects and contests for students, research internships for postgraduate students, product development, consulting and training, setting up joint research labs and many more. Some of the very successful collaborations of SSN have been with Danfoss, Caterpillar, Intel, Cognizant, Redington, HCL among others.
Today, every graduate coming out SSN campus is well rounded and multifaceted individuals, who are also aware of their responsibilities to the society and nation. SSN alumni are now at top positions in corporate world, civil services, entrepreneurship, sports, music, film industry, are reputed authors and are contributing back to the society and their Alma Mater. “We will continue to offer innovative and unique programs to create active, lifelong learners and encourage its faculty to keep working on cutting edge research technologies,” pinpoints Kala Vijayakumar. The immediate goal of the institution is to strengthen the research, innovation and incubation ecosystem to create and commercialize new knowledge, nurture entrepreneurs and encourage them to build companies and create jobs for the betterment of society and the nation.
Kala Vijayakumar, President
Kala Vijayakumar obtained her Master of Science degree with specialization in Mathematics with honors from Stella Maris College, Madras University. She has a mix of Entrepreneur, IT profession and Academic Management experience. She worked in the software development projects in HCL technologies, playing roles like programmer and team leader.