The University of Alberta has formed a partnership with one of the leading technology institutes in India that could significantly influence India–Canada relations. The three-year agreement with the Indian Institute of Technology–Bombay would see students and faculty from both institutions working together on health and energy issues, a statement issued by UA’s office of Public Affairs said.
“There’s the possibility of our positioning this relationship as one important cog in the wheel of India–Canada relations, both in industry and government. And we will investigate all possibilities,” said professor Pradipta Banerji, former dean of international relations at IIT–Bombay, who was in Edmonton in June to finalize the agreement.
Indira Samarasekera, University of Alberta president, said partnering with IIT-Bombay is consistent with the university’s mission to connect with the world
Banerji said IIT-Bombay intends to make the best of the partnership for students and faculty at both institutions and that this is the first time that IIT-Bombay has invested money in a memorandum of understanding.
“We saw a lot of value in the U of A, including its National Institute for Nanotechnology. We picked the U of A because our faculty thought it was a no-brainer: the U of A is well known, is highly ranked and there have been some great discoveries here. What we’re hoping to do is make this agreement go on for 30 years on its own steam,” Banerji said.
We saw a lot of value in the U of A, including its National Institute for Nanotechnology. We picked the U of A because our faculty thought it was a no-brainer: the U of A is well known, is highly ranked and there have been some great discoveries here
The agreement will enhance existing relationships between individual engineering and science faculties from both institutions. Students and researchers from the U of A will also be able to travel and work in India and their counterparts will come to Edmonton. Indira Samarasekera, U of A president, said partnering with IIT-Bombay is consistent with the university’s mission to connect with the world.
“We understand the importance of working collaboratively with other leaders in finding solutions that will make a meaningful difference in our global community,” Samarasekera said. Health and energy issues, for example, present challenges that require the sort of co-operative opportunities this agreement with IIT-Bombay will provide our students and faculty who are working steadfastly to find solutions that will impact the far corners of the world.
“Our partnership with IIT-Bombay also illustrates our commitment to serve Alberta and the country, as it makes it possible for our researchers to travel and work directly with their counterparts in India through summer school programs, joint research initiatives and our new distinguished U of A–IIT-B Professorship in Nanotechnology/Energy exchange program,” she said.
Currently, IIT-Bombay is ranked 36th by Times Higher Education–QS World University Rankings among engineering and IT universities, and produces about 20 per cent of India’s PhD graduates. The U of A is in similar company, ranking 74th overall, 45th in lifesciences and biomedicine, and 46th in engineering and information technology.
“This really is an opportunity for two ranking institutions to complement our recognized accomplishments and also, perhaps more importantly, use our collective strengths to work together to help prepare our world for the coming centuries,” Samarasekera said. Banerji said IIT-Bombay has “one of the world’s best nanofabrication facilities in the world. We have the ability to fabricate nine-inch wafers, which does not exist in any other educational facility in the world.
“One of the things that we see is NINT at the University of Alberta and IIT–Bombay’s facilities synergizing to do something fantastic,” he said. Banerji said the collaborative opportunities on health could include everything from nanobiosensors, used for sensing infectious diseases, to drug delivery systems and non-infectious diseases.
“India has one of the largest populations, which is going to be affected by both Type 1 and 2 diabetes. So just to be able to sense this before it becomes a health problem is an issue of vital importance,” said Banerji. “If we come up together with solutions that make a difference, then this U of A and IIT-Bombay agreement becomes something that’s a beacon for others.”
The University of Alberta in Edmonton is one of the top 100 teaching and research universities in the world serving some 37,000 students with more than 13,000 faculty and staff. Founded a century ago, the university has an annual budget in excess of $1 billion and attracts more than $480 million in external research funding. It offers close to 400 undergraduate, graduate and professional programs in 18 faculties.