The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore stands out in India’s vibrant educational environment as an emblem of academic prowess and pioneering research. IISc has maintained its position as a leader in science and technology since its founding in 1909, initiating breakthrough research efforts and fostering generations of brilliant academics. For the previous several years, it has been the only Indian institution to be ranked among the top 200 in the QS World Ranking. Those who know Sir CV Raman and have seen the famous online series ‘Rocket Boys’ would recognise its significance in revolutionising science and patriotism among young minds since its inception. But it is not the only thing that IISc is famous for. This blog will explain to you what exactly IISc is famous for.
In this blog, we will discuss:
- History of IISc
- Its role in the science of the 20th century
- What is its significance now?
- Innovations by IISc
Foundation of IISc
Like IISc, the history of IISc is also quite interesting. In the 1890s, Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata, a renowned entrepreneur, planned to use his personal wealth to establish a world-class university in India. Tata’s idea of establishing what came to be known as the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) became a reality because of the assistance of the rulers of Mysore State, who shared his devotion to education and research. The Regent Queen Maharani Kempananjammani Vani Vilasa Sannidhana contributed 371 acres and 16 guntas of land in Bangalore, capital expenditure cash, and a yearly contribution to Tata’s ambitious project. India’s colonial government provided the remaining funds for the establishment of IISc. IISc ultimately came into being on May 27, 1909, in Bangalore after overcoming various obstacles, including those caused by Tata’s unexpected death in the summer of 1904.
Its first Director was the English chemist Morris Travers. Twenty-four students joined when the Institute opened its doors to students in 1911. The Institute started with two academic departments: General and Applied Chemistry and Electrical Technology. During those early years, urged by Sir M Visvesvaraya, the Dewan of Mysore nominated to IISc’s Council, researchers carried out studies of immediate importance to the country. This research even led to the establishment of six factories in less than five years. The soap and sandalwood oil factories in Bangalore and Mysore were the most successful. The Institute also grew to include departments such as Biochemistry and Physics. The latter was set up under Sir CV Raman, a Nobel Laureate who became the first Indian Director of IISc in 1933.
Role of IISc in 20th-Century Science
Under the stewardship of Director Satish Dhawan (an eminent aerospace engineer who also led ISRO) in the post-independence era (i.e. during the 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s), the Institute expanded further to include a diverse range of research areas, such as:
- materials science
- computer science and automation
- molecular biophysics
- interdisciplinary work under the Centre for Theoretical Studies
- eventually the formation of other centres in ecology, atmospheric and oceanic sciences.
The social impact of advancements in science was also a key focus during this period, particularly under the Cell for Application of Science and Technology to Rural Areas (ASTRA), which continues today as the Centre for Sustainable Technologies.
IISc introduced Aerospace Research in India
Following World War II, IISc initiated aeronautical research in India. It also trained skilled professionals, including electricians, machinists and carpenters. A year later, it began practical training in partnership with HAL and British Royal Air Force (RAF) personnel. This began IISc’s contribution to advancing aeronautical research in India. A Ministry of Aircraft Production’s Mission recognised the Institute’s worth in 1946 and stated that IISc could aid the aviation industry with research and people training.
IISc has the best alumni as compared to any other institute in India. Not every institute can flex its association with one of the most decorated scientists in India. It counts among its former students and faculty several eminent scientists such as Homi J Bhabha, the founder of India’s nuclear program, Vikram Sarabhai, the founder of India’s space programme, the meteorologist Anna Mani, the biochemist and nutrition expert Kamala Sohonie, and solid-state and materials scientist CNR Rao, to name just a few.
What is the Significance of IISc in the Present Times?
Moving into the twenty-first century, IISc has set up a few undergraduate programmes, many postgraduate and PhD programmes, several new departments and centres in the areas of brain research, nanoscience and engineering, hypersonics and more, strengthened ties with industry, and incubated several start-ups. It has also expanded to include a 1500-acre campus at Challakere in Chitradurga district, Karnataka.
IISc’s commitment to pioneering research across a diverse array of disciplines is unparalleled. From groundbreaking work in aerospace engineering to cutting-edge developments in biological sciences and nanotechnology, the institute has consistently pushed the boundaries of knowledge. Notable research accomplishments, such as the development of India’s first indigenous supercomputer PARAM and significant contributions to the field of astrophysics, demonstrate the institution’s profound impact on the global scientific community.
Innovations by IISc
IISc’s interdisciplinary approach to research and education sets it apart from many other institutions. The institute encourages a holistic understanding of complex scientific and technological challenges by fostering collaborations across various disciplines. This approach has led to developing innovative solutions that address real-world problems, reflecting the institution’s commitment to creating an impact beyond academia. A few notable inventions by IISc include:
- The invention of the Continuous Variable Transmission (CVT) and the creation of the first indigenous aircraft, the Hansa, highlight the institution’s commitment to innovation and technological advancement.
- Developed by the Centre for Product Design and Manufacturing (CPDM), the new state-of-the-art innovation—the LifeBox extends the preservation time of an organ, specifically the heart for now, and allows for increased travel time and distances.
- A Professor has cracked the code to make WiFi 1000 times faster than it already is. Her team has made transistors out of graphene that consume less power and don’t heat up as quickly. Thus, they can allow high-speed signals to reach the Terra Hertz (THz) range.
IISc’s commitment to providing a conducive environment for research and education is evident in its state-of-the-art infrastructure. From advanced laboratories equipped with cutting-edge technology to specialised research centres that facilitate collaborative work, the institute’s infrastructure supports and enhances the research endeavours of its faculty and students, enabling them to explore and innovate without constraints.
In addition to its academic and scientific pursuits, IISc has significantly impacted society. The institution keeps proving its dedication to improving society in general, from encouraging entrepreneurship via its incubation centres to solving important social issues through sustainable development projects. This institution really lives up to the expectations. This institute is really worth its hype. And because of its prestigious reputation, only the best in the country get a chance to study and do research here. The amount of exposure and experience you can get here is unparalleled with any other institute in India. If you want to know how to get into IISc, check out this blog.
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