Tiju Thomas

Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering
Indian Institute of Technology Madras
Sardar Patel Road, Chennai 600036, Tamil Nadu, India

Contact

ph. no: +91 8056456442
email id: tt332@cornell.edu or tijuthomas@iitm.ac.in

Our Research Group

Applied Nanostructures Engineering and Nanochemistry (ANEN) Research Group

ID6020 Panel Discussion notes (28 Sep., 2017)

College to corporate

I think it is hard to argue against the fact that employment is crucial for individual empowerment. By natural extension, scientists are empowered by meaningful scientific employment. In the absence of fruitful scientific employment, even a well trained and gifted scientist is unable to give back to the society in good measure. On the other hand, ensuring gainful scientific employment for our science and engineering students would benefit the larger society in multifarious ways. Hence taking serious measures to ensure gainful and suitable scientific employment for our students is in the best interest of everyone.

Another point to be noted here is this: it is hard to make a case for greater investment in science and engineering education, if we are'nt thinking carefully about creating meaningful jobs for our students. In any country, a sustainable model for growth of science and technology should take into account methods of creating suitable employment for the new and upcoming scientists. From what I see, I think it is safe to say that domain specific jobs are hard to come by, and new means of creating employment (eg. through entrepreneurship) is essential. It is helpful if our students realize this, as they plan their own future.

Based on the temperaments of the individuals concerned, some of us (scientists and engineers) choose to become teachers and academic scholars, while others choose to become entrepreneurs, industrial scientists, policy makers, patent lawyers, science teachers etc. In principle, the university should be a fertile ground for conversations which will enable the student to think about their long term future. The university must empower the student, so that s/he makes informed and careful decisions that is in her/his best interest. Those of us who work in the academia (including me) have an obligation to ensure that we assist our students in creating and choosing paths that are suitable for her/him.

In order to do my part in promoting scientific employment I wish to create a forum for graduate students and postdocs. This forum is intended to provide a bias-free space for discussions on science and technology ideas which our students may have. I hope they share their views, and provide peer-support to one another, so that ventures, partnerships and spin-offs are eventually made possible. It would be great to see ideas presented in our dissertations translating into real-world products, while also ensuring satisfying jobs for our students.

If you are an industrialist or an experienced scientist working with a company, who is interested in talking to science and engineering students, please write to me. I am currently on several committees and academic boards of IITM, and we are thinking about creating spaces where students can think aloud about their long term goals. Also an eco-system to further translational research is being built here. In fact we in IITM have an excellent record here; our IITM Research Park is a welcome space for tech-entrepreneurs. In short, your engagement with us and presence will be very fruitful and immensely appreciated, since together we could create a roadmap to a better, empowered and truly creative India.