Tata Fellows from our sister-center in Mumbai bring their knowledge, ideas, and enthusiasm to MIT.
They say that studying, working, or teaching at MIT is a bit like drinking from a firehose – ideas and challenges come at you fast, and it takes a quick learner to thrive. It can be a daily flood of curiosity, erudition, and hands-on labor. What happens when you add students from the premier technical university in India to that mix?
To begin with, one has to pay close attention to spelling. At MIT, the Tata Center for Technology and Design supports graduate students working on quality-of-life projects in developing countries. At IIT Bombay, the Tata Centre for Technology and Design does the same thing.
However you spell them, both Centers came together in Cambridge, MA last week to talk shop, compare ideas, and strengthen bonds of collaboration. The 20 Tata Fellows from IIT Bombay experienced a rigorous program of lectures, discussions, and workshops led by MIT faculty, postdocs, and students. In between we found time for an amphibious duck tour around Boston, a field trip to the waste treatment plant at Deer Island, and we even introduced them to strange items of American cuisine, like the breakfast burrito.
Next school year will see the first collaborative project between the two Tata Centers, and in August the MIT group will head to Mumbai for a joint program orienting the new cohorts of Fellows at both institutions.
A visit to the Media Lab afforded a chance to talk with Professor Ramesh Raskar about advanced uses of cameras for health imaging.
At the Deer Island Waste Treatment Facility, IIT Bombay Fellow Vishal looks at exactly what $4 billion bought the taxpayers of eastern Massachusetts: an impressive facility and a clean Boston Harbor. It raises the question, if this is what it takes to responsibly handle the sewage of 2.5 million people, what will it take to do the same for mega-cities like Mumbai and Delhi, home to more than 20 million each? Most surprising fact: Low water usage by the Boston area is becoming a problem for the plant, whose pumps are in danger of not having enough water to pump!
Much of the week was taken up by the important (but un-photogenic) work of discussing technologies, methodologies, and issues related to our shared focus areas: agriculture, energy, environment, health, housing, and water. Here MIT Tata Center Director Rob Stoner (left), Research Scientist Reja Amatya (at podium), and Program Manager Nevan Hanumara (right), address the Fellows.
The duck tour took us for a spin along the Charles River, where young sailors were out plying their trade.
A meeting by the river: there’s never a bad time or place to talk entrepreneurship with the Tata Center’s Raj Nair.
We thank the IIT Bombay group for visiting, and look forward to seeing them again in August!