“Lead me from darkness to light” is the motto of the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, established in 1959. Based in Uttar Pradesh in north eastern India, the university campus houses almost all students, and is spread over a site of more than 1,000 acres.
For students, the university aims to make faculty approachable, and “no fear or awe is expected”. Critical thinking is emphasised through “curiosity based” learning, while undergraduates are given a broad, liberal education, and can study more than half their courses outside their core subject, including 25 per cent in management and humanities fields.
Graduates make up a relatively high proportion of students, and the university prides itself on its research environment. Researchers are given great independence over the direction of their research, the university says, and it tries to encourage a “non-bureaucratic work culture”. Much of the work done at IIT Kanpur is interdisciplinary, encouraged through specific research centres.
Recent projects include using autonomous drones to monitor disasters; using recycled materials to build roads; research on the impact of climate change on the Himalayan glaciers and the Ganges; and cancer diagnosis using special imaging.
In the 1960s, the university established numerous links with institutions in the United States, including the California Institute of Technology, Purdue University and the University of Michigan. Faculty members have gone on to win several international awards, including the Humboldt Research Award, the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award, and membership of the Indian Academy of Science and the Indian National Academy of Engineering.