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IIT Bombay-Ohio State Frontier Science and Engineering Research Center

16 April 2019


The Ohio State University on April 10, 2019 signed an agreement with the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT Bombay) to launch the Ohio land grant university’s first academic research center shared outside the U.S. 

The IIT Bombay-Ohio State Frontier Science and Engineering Research Center will be a center for collaborative research shared by Ohio State and IIT Bombay, a world-leading science- and technology-focused public institution in Mumbai. 

Through this new center of excellence, professional researchers from across the globe will connect and foster future project collaborations, while students from both institutions conduct collaborative research through a student exchange and scholarship program. 

Both institutions have designated spaces on their respective campuses for researchers to work together. At Ohio State, researchers will be based on west campus, in space operated by IMR. At IIT Bombay, researchers’ collaboration space will be based at the institute's Nanotechnology Research Center. 

“The Frontier Center will make a real impact on society by bringing together leading researchers who are focused on some of the world’s most critical challenges in science and technology,” said Professor Steven Ringel, Associate Vice President for Research and Executive Director of the Institute for Materials Research (IMR). “By joining in this shared vision with IIT-Bombay, Ohio State has embarked on an innovative pathway to provide its students and faculty with unusual opportunities to globalize Ohio State’s impact.” 

IMR led Ohio State’s drive in forming the partnership to accelerate cutting-edge research and innovation, and expand that impact on a global scale. 

The research center joins more than 100 Ohio State and IIT Bombay scientists and engineers into a growing collective of researchers. Their expertise includes materials, manufacturing, data analytics, electrical engineering, physics, chemistry and quantum information technologies. 

The partnership will enable interdisciplinary faculty research in a myriad of fields, including energy storage, photovoltaics, additive manufacturing, computational materials science and engineering, energy-efficient electronics, Microgrids and power electronics, next-generation photonic devices and circuits, and emergent materials. 

"The Ohio State University and IIT Bombay will partner together to create one of our most important inter-university joint research centers,” said Professor Devang Khakhar, IIT Bombay Director. “This will benefit both our institutions tremendously, and particularly our research students, as we work together on important science and engineering problems relevant to India as well as USA." 

The center also will support the next-generation of scientists and innovators through its doctoral student-based research program. 

The center aims to support between 15 and 30 students from both institutions each year, for the next four years, and will grow as externally-supported projects from industry and government agencies become established. Doctoral students will be grouped and co-advised by faculty members from both institutions. 

These “center scholars” will spend approximately one semester each year at the partner institution, as members of the partner faculty group. Competitive scholarships will be awarded to aid student costs related to research projects, travel and visitation to the partner institution, living expenses and tuition fees. 

IMR faculty members Sanjay Krishna and Siddharth Rajan, world-leaders in infrared imaging and high frequency semiconductor devices, respectively, serve as U.S. faculty center leaders, with Saurabh Lodha of IIT-Bombay, who is an international leader in advanced electronic devices. The Frontier Center leaders will jointly guide the research mission of the Frontier Center. 

“This is a great opportunity for two institutions with excellent history of research and innovation to combine their intellectual horsepower and resources to create something that is greater than the sum of parts,” said Krishna, George R. Smith Chair in Engineering and professor in Electrical & Computer Engineering. “For me personally, this is great way to bring my birth country and adopted country in a partnership that could transform the lives of students and enrich their learning experience through cross-cultural interactions. 

IMR began exploring collaboration possibilities with India-based academic institutions and industrial entities in 2014. This led to consecutive visits to Ohio State by IIT Bombay Director Dr. Devang Khakar and affiliated leadership. The partnership continued to grow as IMR and IITB developed a shared seed grant program through the Materials and Manufacturing for Sustainability focus area of Ohio State’s Discovery Themes Initiative, and both hosted bilaternal workshops for several years to enable faculty and student teams to gel. 

"The launch of the Frontier Center is the culmination of the groundwork done by both institutions over the past few years. Through the Center, we look forward to the strong, existing interactions being enhanced and leading to high-impact research in the identified areas," said Prof. Swati Patankar, Dean (International Relations), IIT Bombay. 

In January 2015, a delegation from Ohio State, including Ringel and President Michael V. Drake, traveled to Mumbai to formalize the burgeoning partnership by signing a memorandum of understanding. This strategic partnership built upon the universities’ existing, complementary strengths and assets, with an initial focus on advanced materials and manufacturing, solar energy, semiconductor devices and bioengineering. 

Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, the second IIT to be set up in 1958, is recognized worldwide as a leader in the field of engineering education and research. The Institute was granted the status of ‘Institution of Eminence’ by the Ministry of Human Resources Development on July 9, 2018. It is reputed for the quality of its faculty and the outstanding caliber of students graduating from its undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. The Institute has 14 academic departments, 31 centres, two schools and five Interdisciplinary programmes. Over the last five decades, more than 55,000 engineers and scientists have graduated from the Institute. It is served by more than 643 faculty members considered not only amongst the best within the country, but are also highly recognized in the world for achievements in the field of education and research. The Institute is recognized as one of the top centres of academic excellence in the country. Over the years, there has been dynamic and rapid progress at IIT Bombay in both academic and research activities, with a parallel improvement in facilities and infrastructure to match with the best institutions in the world.