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Pune Campus Watch: Pune and German students, teachers to work on joint problems at new satellite centre

While scores of MoUs are signed between the Indian and international universities and many forgotten within days of it being inked, the Vishwakarma University in Pune has taken a step forward and collaborated with Hof University of Applied Sciences in Bavaria, Germany, to establish a ‘Satellite Centre’ of the German university on the campus.

Inaugurated two weeks ago, the idea is to establish a center where the German and Indian students can work together on industry problems, the teachers can exchange best practices as well as facilitate industry interaction and student-faculty exchange.

“There are over 300 German companies in Pune, we need to take advantage of this strategic advantage of the city. We have seen that across and between universities several MoUs are signed, but many times the people forget or no work is done. It is because there is no commitment. Hence, we opened a satellite centre. Firstly, it is a tangible property. Secondly, we have deputed three faculty for this purpose and similarly the Hof University has done the same. What we will do is that we will start approaching the industries here for research and problem statements which our students and faculty will work on jointly with Hof University students and faculty,” said Siddharth Jabade, the vice-chancellor of Vishwakarma University.

Specifying the centre is not meant for any joint degree programmes, Jabade said it is meant for research, innovation and foster cross-cultural exchange.

“The collaboration is a firm step towards planting the seed for developing a good research culture among the students. The students and faculty members from both universities will be actively interacting with each other over ideas and innovation and at the same time, build a transnational and cross-cultural ecosystem,” he added.

Jabade said the effort will be to create a complete Indo-German ecosystem through this satellite centre where not only the two universities will come together but there will be a concerted effort to bring all other stakeholders together.

When asked why a German university, the vice-chancellor of Vishwakarma University explained that Germany has been at the forefront in terms of engineering and it is natural to join hands with a university from Germany as its companies have been flourishing in the city of Pune.

“Many of the industries in Pune are from Germany and the centre aims to introduce industry-centric research projects and collaborations to work towards finding solutions for contemporary problems. For example, our collaboration with Wilo Foundation of Germany in 2018 was to find better solutions for water quality. Our students have created a vertical water sewage treatment plant, which will now be deployed by them in industries,” he added.

Jabade further said the centre will be hybrid in its format alongside the physical exchange of the students and faculty, who are part of the research projects between the two universities. He said the students who exhibit extraordinary zeal towards their ideas will be handpicked by the faculty, but there are no limits to the number of researchers who can work at the centre.

“The research will be free for the students and they will have the faculty of both universities to mentor and supervise them. The universities will enjoy a shared patent, research paper or journal which for Vishwakarma University and its students, is an added bonus to have its mark in global rankings. The centre is also an enabling platform to contribute to the overall national innovation capacity,” Jabade added.

Meanwhile, Wasudeo Gade, the vice-president of Vishwakarma University, said the Satellite Centre, designed by the interior design students of Vishwakarma University, will focus on the research projects in specifically recognised areas such as sustainable development, industry 4.0 which includes work in digitalisation and the internet of things (IoT) and also look into business management, international trade, marketing and fibre.

“The research areas will be on things that are contemporary and the centre will encourage the students in the third and fourth year of the undergraduate courses and the post-graduates to engage in tackling research problems. The collaboration will look into facilitating exchange not only among the students but also the faculty. There will be a movement between both students and faculty. The programme will help in the upskilling of the faculty as they will have a chance to exchange styles and methods of pedagogy necessary to fertilise the culture of research,” said Gade.

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