IIT Delhi establishes School of Artificial Intelligence

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi has established an independent “School of Artificial Intelligence (ScAI)” on its campus. The institute is already a leader in the country and Asia for research and educational activity in AI. As per CSRankings.org, IIT Delhi is No.1 in India based on the number of high quality publications in the area of AI in the last ten years.

The School of Artificial Intelligence (ScAI) aims to cement IIT Delhi’s leadership position in India and considerably improve its global standing. ScAI will begin its PhD program from the next admission cycle (Jan 2021). PG level degree courses to be offered by the School are being planned.

Speaking of the IIT Delhi’s plans for the School of AI, Prof V. Ramgopal Rao, Director, IIT Delhi said, “The future progress of a nation will depend on its AI capability. Therefore, many countries have started investing heavily in AI. India is also responding to this. PM Shri Narendra Modi has emphasised the importance of AI in his policies. Besides, India is ranked 5th in the world in both the most number of AI companies and AI jobs.”

“However, we are lagging behind in some very important aspects, specifically in the number of AI researchers in the country and the overall quality and quantity of AI research. To fill this gap, IIT Delhi has established the School of AI on the campus. One of the goals of setting up ScAI is also to strengthen IIT Delhi’s place on the global map of AI”, Prof. Rao added.

Some of the high-level objectives of the School of AI established by IIT Delhi include:

To bring together the more than fifty IIT Delhi faculty members individually invested in various aspects of the field. With this, ScAI expects to act as a force nmultiplier for overall research productivity.

To provide external branding to IIT Delhi in this field of immense importance. A cohesive group in AI will allow focused hiring of faculty members and students to increase global visibility. It will become a one-stop center for industry or government interested in collaborating or funding AI innovations.

To provide a platform for industry, government and civil society entities to share their domain problems, which will then be matched with IIT Delhi faculty with the relevant technical/ analytical expertise. To initiate educational programs focused on AI. Initially, the focus will be on postgraduate level. After achieving a critical mass of core AI researchers, professional level educational programs will be introduced.
Prof Rao further said, “A program in AI is needed because current degrees are broad-based, and do not make it easy for students to learn the depths of different subfields within AI. On the other hand, there is strong demand globally for skilled AI practitioners, which these programs can cater to”, Given its multi-disciplinary nature, ScAI will have a flexible faculty model i.e. it will have core faculty, joint faculty and adjunct faculty members (who may also be from the industry).

Prof Mausam, School of AI’s Founding Head said, “Core faculty members will be those who consider AI, or its applications in various domain areas (e.g., healthcare, transportation), as their main research area. Core faculty members will also be responsible for developing the School and will be deeply invested in its success. ScAI expects to hire at least 20 core faculty members in the next ten years.”
As ScAI gets started, several existing faculty members in the institute are likely to take joint appointments in ScAI, and provide early directions to the school. Finally, adjunct faculty members will be those who are full-time in another department, but will interact with ScAI’s faculty members on research initiatives, and may also teach elective courses.

“We are also looking for external partners to help shape this new school into a world class entity”, Prof. Mausam added. Overall, ScAI will be broad in its research trajectories, and multi-disciplinary in its
academic pursuits. The School of AI will be IIT Delhi’s 6 th school.

Siddharatha

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