In a move to bridge the gap between academia and industry, SASTRA, a deemed-to-be university in Thanjavur, has signed an MoU with SV.CO, India’s first digital incubator for college entrepreneurs, to bring the Facebook School of Innovation’s Virtual Reality Elective for its students.
Ranked as a Grade 1 Category Institute by the University Grants Commission, the highest classification for Universities in India, SASTRA is empowered with the autonomy to create courses in partnership with industry, in order to bolster the central government’s Skill India and Startup India programmes.
As part of the programme, Foundation for Innovation & Research at SASTRA TBI (FIRST), the new Technology Business Incubator (TBI) supported by the Department of Science and Technology, has setup a modern VR Lab comprising of devices such as Oculus Rift, Oculus GO, HTC Vive, and other ultra-modern gaming laptops for its students.
A group of 40 students, shortlisted out of 100 applications, has been selected for the inaugural batch of the Virtual Reality course, part of the university’s academic degree launched as an elective for sixth-semester students. Students from various disciplines such as computer science, electronics, mechatronics &biotech have opted for the VR elective, indicating a broad acceptance across multiple branches for the Facebook-supported course.
Satyajeet Singh, Head of Platform Partnerships for India and South Asia, Facebook, said: “The School of Innovation programme is committed to support the creation of a robust innovation ecosystem in emerging technologies at universities and the course integration with SASTRA University is our first major step in this direction.”
The School of Innovation programme, co-created by Facebook and Startup Village Collective (SV.CO), is designed to help students work with emerging technology, build world-class products, under the mentorship of industry experts.
Speaking about the partnership, Suma Sundararajan, Programme Head and Chief Operating Officer of SV.CO, said: “SASTRA is laying a strong foundation to systematically move up in the ARIIA innovation rankings as all the key parameters like launching new courses, setting up of new infrastructure and guidance for students to build prototypes are an integral part of the course design.”
Launched by the Ministry of Human Resources and Development, the Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARIIA) ranks Indian academic institutions on their innovation rankings and catalyse the adoption of modern courses by academic institutions in the field of technology and entrepreneurship.
Elaborating on the VR elective’s USP, Sridharan Venkataramanan, CEO of Foundation for Innovation & Research at SASTRA TBI, said: “In this digital era, it is critical to develop young engineering workforce with emerging technologies such as VR, AR etc. This course is well designed with help of industry experts and makes SASTRA students ready to face the digital world as we embrace the Industry4.0 in manufacturing domain and overall Business4.0 across segments such as retail, banking, finance and so on. We are happy to collaborate with the School of Innovation. Our faculty team has been trained, and we have industry curriculum as well as support from industry professionals for course evaluations.”
Keeping in mind the practice of higher education syllabuses taking a long time to be updated, SASTRA has integrated the course in three weeks with the School of Innovation. According to Venkataramanan, an industry veteran, the elective will lead to a well-rounded industry learning experience and value for the students.
At the School of Innovation’s upcoming VR Day Programme, where 21 talented student developers will be showcasing their innovations in the field of virtual reality, SASTRA will also be sharing its learnings focusing on the new course.
The event, to be held on February 23 in Bengaluru, will offer the visiting academic institutes a glimpse of how the university integrated the emerging technologies course into its industry curriculum. Academic institutions and students can access the details of the VR course at www.sv.co/sastra .