I hope the New Year is off to a good start for you. BITSAA International celebrated its tenth birthday in 2011. In October 2001, it was formally registered in the US. We’ve celebrated several milestones and touched the lives of many BITSians. BITSAA is now one of the largest and strongest alumni networks in the world, and getting ready to launch some innovative projects in 2012 that can have a transformational impact on BITSians and the BITS Pilani brand.
When I took over as Chairman on July 1, 2011, we set some objectives for the BITSAA Leadership and the Board in order to promote BITS, Pilani and strengthen the alumni network built on a great foundation laid by my predecessor SP Kothari. Following were the goals we set based on observations and alumni feedback from the several visits I made to different chapters and the campuses:
- Streamline governance of alumni programs (across chapters, batches) in support of BITS Pilani’s stated Vision 2020,
- Create an eco-system of partners in industry, government and academia to enhance research and entrepreneurship at BITS Pilani, and
- Raise at least $1M before the next BITSAA Global Meet to support “Bridges to the Future” campaign and establish a culture of giving.
I’m happy to note that the BITSAA Leadership has made excellent progress towards these goals in the last year. The initiatives and actions that we’ve taken in 2011 are spelled out in this report.
I have to make special mention of the launch of the Bridges to the Future campaign, which promises to be the biggest umbrella fundraiser in BITSAA’s history and propel several exciting projects, including BITSConnect 2.0. The Alumni Advisory Council is a unique initiative that BITSAA has nurtured and will take the relationship between BITS alumni, faculty and administration to a new level. We’ve expanded the BITSAA Board to facilitate participation from all parts of the world where BITSians live in large numbers. None of this would have been possible without the tireless effort by all the volunteer leaders and my colleagues on the Board. I owe utmost respect and admiration for their selfless work; and continue to be amazed by the dedication of so many young BITSians who form the lifeblood of our vibrant global organization.
The few years we spent at BITS bind all of us together for life. Many alumni expressed the wish to stay engaged with us at the BITSAA Global Meet 2011. I want to remind you that there are many avenues to contribute and opportunities arise throughout the year. In 2012, we’ll continue pursuing specific projects that meet our three goals stated above and I plan to share updates on a quarterly basis going forward. Please register yourself with BITSAA; we now have almost 20,000 members registered and our Facebook page has more than 25,000 fans. We use various channels to spread news of the good work done by BITSians around the world, so please tune in. Chapters are regrouping everywhere and the time is ripe for the global alumni community to network with, contribute to and benefit from each other.
Vice Chancellor’s message
I wish to share with you details about BITS’ plans to grow the academic programs it offers at its three campuses in India, together with the resulting growth in number of students in BITS. This growth comes soon after BITS opened its three new campuses in Dubai (in 2000), Goa (in 2004) and Hyderabad (in 2008), a move that resulted in a three-fold growth in student strength from 3,500 in 1999 in Pilani to 10,500 across its four campuses in 2010.
Before doing so, I wish to share with you the many initiatives that we have taken in the last year or two as part of the project “Vision 2020, Mission 2012” we launched in 2009 with a view to continually strive for excellence in teaching and research. Specifically, these were aimed at revamping our products (read curricula), processes and infrastructure as also empowering our faculty so they may grow professionally. These include:
- Implementing an ERP system to ensure efficient and cost-effective storage and management of information concerning academic and administrative functions across all four campuses – a near-first for India,
- Undertaking a comprehensive engagement survey covering faculty, students and staff in our four campuses and on issues relating to curricula, life on campus, research, etc. – truly a first for India,
- Benchmarking and re-designing all undergraduate and post-graduate programs, while increasing the number of discipline-specific and humanities courses and emphasizing hands-on, projects-based learning,
- (Completely) re-structuring the processes for selecting faculty, while bringing in external experts to help select research-focused faculty, and
- Encouraging, facilitating and providing incentives to faculty to seek and execute sponsored R&D projects, including the use of significant portion of overheads to help faculty grow professionally.
All these initiatives are well on their way to implementation.
More recently, on Oct 31, 2011 Chancellor Mr. Kumar Mangalam Birla has accorded in-principle approval to the direction and extent of growth in academic programs at our campuses in Pilani, Goa and Hyderabad. (The growth plans for Dubai campus are still under discussion). Currently, the total number of students in these campuses is nearly 9,700. We expect this to grow to nearly 12,000 by 2015, and to little less than 15,000 by 2020. In terms of growth rate this constitutes a modest cumulative growth of over 4.5% per annum. However, the growth in higher degree (or post-graduate) programs and in doctoral programs is expected to be very significant. In particular, we are planning for 140% growth in higher-degree programs and 650% growth in on-campus full-time PhD students by year 2020, while the number of students in the first-degree programs will grow at a modest rate of 27% only. We are convinced this emphasis on post-graduate studies will help BITS transform itself into a research-focused university, a pre-requisite to achieve its stated vision, viz. be listed as one of top three technical institutions in India by 2015, and as one of top 25 technical institutions in Asia.
As many of you are aware, BITS has pioneered the “work-integrated learning program”, or WILP, since the late 1970s. WILP offers working professionals an opportunity to undergo an educational program leading to a formal degree from BITS, even as they continue to work on a day-job in industry.
BITS has now embarked upon a program to not only revamp its WILP products and processes, but has also dedicated itself to expand its offerings to a significantly larger number of working professionals. Recent efforts at developing content, using technology-enhanced delivery of courses, and expanding the reach of WILP programs are now off the ground.
BITSAA International Inc. is a not-for-profit organization registered in New Jersey, USA (Federal EIN# 22-3835037) and has been granted tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the IRS tax code as of August 20, 2002.
BITSAA International engages in charitable and educational activities by raising funds for setting up endowments, creating scholarships, rewarding teaching and research and generally promoting the development of resources at Birla Institute of Technology and Science at Pilani, Dubai, Goa & Hyderabad campuses.
BITSAA International also aims to strengthen the ties, friendship and communication amongst former students, alumni faculty and friends of the Institute. BITSAA International provides a number of channels for people to stay connected with each other and with Birla Institute of Technology & Science.
BITSAA's VisionMaximize the potential of BITSians and BITS Pilani.
BITSAA's Mission1. Make BITSAA the best and most well networked alumni community in the world and positively enhance your professional and personal lives, and
2. Give back to BITS Pilani to strengthen the infrastructure, student exposure and education quality.