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IIT Madras History

A technological enterprise at the service of the Nation

The Indian Institute of Technology Madras belongs to the new-generation institutes of national importance in higher technical education. Located in South Chennai, in a beautiful campus spanning 630 acres, the Institute is nearly self-contained and houses around 3000 students as well as the families of faculty and staff members. The Institute has grown from strength to strength ever since it obtained its charter from the Parliament of India in 1961, and has since established itself as a premier centre of research, consultancy and technological development.

The dawn of a new era

It all began in 1956, when Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India, was on an official visit to West Germany and was offered assistance by the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany, to set up a higher technological institute in India. This resulted in the signing of the first Indo-German Agreement in Bonn in 1959, for the establishment of an Indian Institute of Technology at Madras. The first Indo-German Agreement provided for the services of German professors and five foremen, training facilities for 20 Indian faculty members and the supply of scientific and technical equipment for the establishment of the Central Workshop and 20 laboratories at IIT Madras.

In 1959, the Institute was formally inaugurated by Prof. Humayun Kabir, Union Minister for Scientific and Cultural Affairs. Dr. A. Lakshmanaswamy assumed office as the first Chairman of the Board of Governors and Dr. B.Sengupto as the first Director of the Institute. In 1961, the Institute was declared as an 'Institute of National Importance' by the Parliament of India.

Milestones that defined an illustrious history

The visit of Dr. Heinrich Lubke, President of the Federal Republic of Germany, in 1962 marked the beginning of the Indo-German Technical Assistance Program. In 1973, Shri C.Subramaniam, Minister for Industrial Development and Minister for Science and Technology, inaugurated the Industrial Consultancy Centre. The same year, the first IBM System 370 Model 155 digital computer was dedicated to the Institute.

1974 witnessed the commencement of the fourth Indo-German Agreement. It aimed to set up inter-university partnerships in R&D projects, strengthen the industrial consultancy service and establish a post-graduate programme in Television Engineering. The Employees Welfare Scheme was introduced in 1975, and evening D.I.I.T courses were started for the benefit of engineers in and around the city.

In 1976, an agreement was signed with the Government of France for collaboration and assistance to the Aeronautics Department. Five years later, the fifth Indo-German agreement was signed with the continuation of inter-university projects and exchange visits, as well as the strengthening of the Micro Processor Laboratory, Low Temperature Laboratory and High Polymer Laboratory as its principal objectives. The credit system of evaluation for B.Tech. programmes was introduced in 1979.

Recognising world-class talent

Since 1973, the Institute has conferred honorary degrees of Doctor of Science and Doctor of Technology (honoris causa) to eminent personalities like Nobel Laureate (Physics) Dr. John Bardeen (1973), former Minister for Foreign Affairs (FRG) Mr.Hans Dietrich Genscher (1973) and former Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, Dr.Raja Ramanna (1983) among others. Prominent in the academic calendar of the Institute is the Institute Convocation Day, the convocation address being delivered usually by the President, Vice-President or Prime Minister of India. President Shri Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan addressed the first convocation of the Institute. The 35th convocation address (in 1998) was delivered by the Honourable Vice-President of India, Shri Krishna Kant.