Gurugram, August 22, 2019: Plaksha University, a greenfield University with a vision to reimagine technology education and research for the 21st century, today launched its first flagship program – Tech Leaders Fellowship (TLF) – in partnership with University of California, Berkeley. The Plaksha Tech Leaders Fellowship is the first of its kind program – a one-year, fully residential post-graduate program that integrates technology, entrepreneurship and design.
Speaking on the partnership with UC Berkeley, Dr. S. Shankar Sastry, former Dean of Engineering, UC Berkeley and Academic Advisor to Plaksha University, said, “The higher purpose of partnering with Plaksha University is to teach the Fellows not only the technology but also the social, ethical and legal constructs. Our fellows will be able to appreciate learnings from the program when confronted with GrandChallenges.”
The Fellowship curriculum was co-evolved over brainstorming sessions with UC Berkeley and industry leaders across the world, to prepare graduates for high impact tech careers. It has a unique structure anchored around four pillars.
The first pillar is technical coursework in data science, AI and ML. The second is technical and social context through courses in Design and Systems Thinking, Human Computer Interaction, and ‘Grand Challenge’ courses in areas such as agriculture, health, fintech. Third is real-world experience, through Capstone projects with industry on solving real-world problems, and a Challenge Lab to build entrepreneurial ventures. The final pillar is developing leadership and entrepreneurial skills of students through an intense curriculum.
Dr. Ikhlaq Sidhu, Founding Faculty Director and Chief Scientist of UC Berkeley’s Sutardja Centre for Entrepreneurship & Technology, and Co-chair of the TLF Program Committee said, “With TLF, we are taking a leap by aligning courses and skills with specific demands of the industry. Our graduates will develop strong command over sophisticated technologies while getting trained in 21st century skills like collaboration, problem solving, resilience and leadership.”
60 Fellows have been handpicked from top engineering institutes and prestigious organizations, from India and overseas. Over 75% of the Fellows have prior work experience, averaging 2.5 years. They represent 16 states. 25 per cent of the Fellows are women.
With this Fellowship, it is for the first time, the Indian engineering education will witness a collaboration of top-notch faculty members and industry experts from top universities and companies like UC Berkeley, Purdue University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Michigan, Google, IBM, and many others. 25+ faculty from these institutions are coming to India to teach at the Fellowship.
Stressing the need to reimagine higher education in India, Vineet Gupta, Founding Member of Plaksha University, and Co-chair of TLF Program Committee said, “Today, there exist more than 5000 engineering colleges in India, producing about a million engineering graduates every year. But most engineering education is still quite traditional. Plaksha is aiming to re-imagine technology and engineering education in India and the world. We have an opportunity to leapfrog by integrating technology, entrepreneurial ability and design, while training students to solve the most challenging problems of our times.”
The aim of Tech Leaders Fellowship is to unlock the potential of Fellows to leverage technology and lead tomorrow’s organizations, build path-breaking ventures and help solve real-world challenges at scale for India and the world.
Bringing this vision to reality, one of the world’s most prestigious and top-ranked universities offering engineering and research programs – University of California, Berkeley – has designed the curriculum of Plaksha’s Tech Leaders Fellowship in consultation with other leading academicians and practitioners in AI, ML, Data Sciences and Leadership. Plaksha University has also signed an MoU with SRI International (erstwhile Stanford Research Institute) for joint research, and Purdue University.
The admission process was rigorous and comprehensive. It included filling an application form, technical assessment and interview, to test for intellectual rigor and curiosity, leadership potential, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit and diversity. Full or partial scholarship have been offered to all 60 Fellows.
TLF Committee Members:
Dr. Ikhlaq Sidhu, Faculty Director & Chief Scientist Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology, UC Berkeley; Dr. B.N. Jain, Former Vice Chancellor, BITS Pilani; Professor of Computer Science, IIT Delhi; Dr. Nita Goyal, Research and Machine Intelligence, Google; Vineet Gupta, Machine Learning Group, Google Brain; Ananda Sen Gupta, Vice President, Nagarro; Founder, Trackmybeat, Vineet Gupta, Founder Jamboree Education.
Faculty at TLF (not exhaustive):
Dr. Ikhlaq Sidhu, Faculty Director & Chief Scientist Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology, UC Berkeley; Ken Singer, Managing Director, Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, UC Berkeley; Dr. AnnaLee Saxenian, Dean, UC Berkeley School of Information; Andrew Brightman, Associate Professor of Engineering Practice, Purdue University; Dr. Ravi Kothari, Former Chief Scientist, IBM Research, India; James Shanahan, Lecturer, UC Berkeley School of Information Dr. Sudheendra Hangal, Professor of the Practice in Computer Science, Ashoka University; Dr. Atul Adya, Principal Engineer, Google Mountain View, California; Dr. Dave Chesney, Toby Teorey Collegiate Lecturer CSE, University of Michigan, Former, Engineer, General Motors, Dr. Kenwyn Smith, Professor, Organizational Behaviour, University of Pennsylvania; Dr. Somali Chaterji, Visiting Assistant Professor of CS, Purdue University; Dr. James Shanahan, Lecturer, UC Berkeley School of Information, Former Research Scientist, Xerox Research.
Plaksha University is a collective inspiration of over 50 first generation entrepreneurs and business leaders with a planned an investment of INR 2000 Cr. over 15 years. The University is built at the intersection of technology, science and humanities to transform the world in the 21st Century. The foundation stone for Plaksha University was laid by Captain Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister of Punjab in February 2019. Plaksha University’s 50-acre campus is located at Mohali, near Chandigarh, the Capital city of the States of Punjab and Haryana, approximately 200 kms from the National Capital Region of India. Indian scriptures state that the River Saraswati, synonymous with learning, originated from a ‘world-tree’ called Plaksha, which grew at the foothills of the Sivaliks. The name ‘Plaksha’ therefore reflects the idea of the university as a tree, from which a river of learning flows endlessly, constantly renewing itself and nurturing everything that it touches.