Thursday, February 23, 2017

Assam Don Bosco University: Betting on Nano, But Dreaming Even Bigger

Assam Don Bosco University is much like the North Eastern state’s most famous tree, the Hollong, the iconic vegetation in the region. Perched atop the hills of Assam, the university not only stands out for being the first privately-run state university here but is now increasingly staking its claim as an emerging education ambassador of the state. In its relatively short tenure, ADBU has gone from strength to strength while notably improving its placement record. Although branching out to more niche disciplines like Tea technology, ADBU has perhaps excelled unquestionably in the area of Nanotechnology research. This is sure to make the scientific and student community look up and take notice.

ADBU, sponsored by the Salesians of Don Bosco (started by St. John Bosco), is today the largest Catholic congregation in the world.

Assam Don Bosco University is their 16th global university and the first in the English-speaking world. They operate a total of three campuses namely at Azara, Kharguli, and the picturesque 500-acres campus on the undulating hills, the Tapesia Gardens catering to the educational needs of the ethnically and culturally rich diversity of India.

Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) is arguably one of the most experienced higher education promoters in the world, running 15 universities worldwide. Assam Don Bosco  University’s “Whole Institution” approach  is intended to promote a higher education community that is improving efficiency, conserving resources and enhancing environmental quality for sustainability and creating healthy living and learning environments. Apart from the life cycle of buildings, grounds and infrastructure, the commitment to a “Whole Institution” approach encourages research, promotes advocacy efforts, develops curriculum and supports academic and mission-based goals which further sustainability on campus. The University campus is considered as a living laboratory and the endeavor includes students, academic staff, administrative staff as well as visitors to extend learning beyond the class room to develop responsible attitudes and commitment to continuous improvement on sustainability issues. The initiatives of agro forestry and conservation of biodiversity, alternate energy through solar and water and eco friendly waste disposal are critical in the University's plan of reducing environmental risk and impact and achieving financial savings

Though ADBU has almost all core departments and in-demand courses, its flagship is the undergraduate engineering program with almost half of the on-campus students pursuing their BTech. Although ADBU comes across as the archetypal private self-financing university, it is unique in that its off-campus or distance-learning division - Don Bosco Global - is larger in student strength than its on-campus wing and attracts students from all over the world. Offering a variety of courses with a vibrant thrust on research and abundance of extension activities, ADBU currently has around 2000 students on campus and another 6000 pursuing its online courses.

Led by Fr.(Dr) Stephen Mavely, a leading educationalist with around 40 years of experience in the North East, ADBU is guided by a two-pronged principle that runs through its veins:  the employability of their graduates in a knowledge based economy and a globalized world, and the formation of their graduates to become life-long learners capable of adapting to the changing demands of the world of work. “In the highly competitive world of today, it is talent and adaptability that matter, not one's background”, aptly summarized by the VC Fr. (Dr) Stephen Mavely. Notably, Fr. (Dr) Stephen Mavely was recently awarded with the coveted ‘100 Most Influential Vice-Chancellors’ award in Asia-Pacific region by World Education Congress.

In honoring its research commitments, ADBU signed an MoU with Centre of Plasma Physics – Institute for Plasma Research (CPP-IPR), Nazirakhat, Sonapur. CPP-IPR is a research center of Institute for Plasma Research, Gandhinagar, Gujarat, which is an autonomous body under the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), Government of India. 

Both the institutions agreed to collaborate in scientific research, lend hands in setting up of laboratories, mechanical/electronics workshops and sharing of infrastructure. The immediate areas that open up for collaboration are in the areas of scientific research in nano-materials, thermal engineering, numerical simulation etc. In addition, the university students of science and technology will also be able to do their project works with CPP-IPR facilities under the guidance of CPP-IPR faculty.

This year, ADBU played host to The International Conference on Advances in Nanotechnology, iCAN 2017 in partnership with the School of Technology and Sustainable Nanotechnology Organization, USA. The main objective of the conference was to motivate young researchers from academic and research institutes in the north eastern part of India to explore the possibilities of using nanotechnology and to provide a platform to interact and exchange new ideas and also to explore possible collaborations with the researchers from across the globe working in diverse areas of Nano-science and Nanotechnology.

ADBU further solidified its growing contribution in the field of nanotechnology research by opening a Center of Excellence in Nanotechnology (CoEN). Widely touted to be the trending technological breakthrough of the 21st century, Nanotechnology has made a horizontal impact traversing across all types of vertical industrial sectors like computers, telecommunication, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, aerospace, defense, construction, energy, to name a few.

The CoEN will focus on research in Nano-sciences and Nanotechnology leading to industry-ready technology/products, development of human resources for implementing nanotechnology through interdisciplinary research, initiate strong interactions leading to collaborations with leading academic institutions and industry for innovations, setting up of a state of the art nanotechnology characterization lab.

The CoEN will also advocate the concept of ‘Poor Man’s Nanotechnology’ and assist other institutions in setting up basic Nanotechnology research labs. The CoEN plans to set up a library (both printed and electronic) of nanotechnology related books and research publications, organize International and National Conferences, Symposiums, Workshops, etc. and support researchers in submitting research projects to funding agencies.

In another progressive development aimed at promotion of scientific reasearch, a workshop on ‘Open Source Software for Library Automation’ was held at ADBU. The workshop was jointly organized by collaboration of DRTC, Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), Bangalore and Assam Don Bosco University and was sponsored by ISI in Bangalore. 

The workshop aimed at developing an expertise on Open Source Software known as KOHA by providing a thorough training, tutorial, demonstration and hands-on practice. It also aimed at updating the professionals and academic community about content management.
Its vast global network has also enabled the university to go in for several meaningful international tie ups with Salesian and non-Salesian Universities worldwide. Frequent academic and research exchanges between ‘Salesian Institutions of Higher Education (IUS)’ have also helped in ADBU’s adoption of best practices from all around the world.

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