RESEARCH AT BITS
Birla Institute of Technology & Science
Pilani (Rajasthan) - 333031
Appendix ‘K’: Ref. BG Agenda Item No. 60.13
Appendix ‘F’: Ref. GB Agenda Item No. 46.07
RESEARCH AT BITS
Birla Institute of Technology & Science
Pilani (Rajasthan) - 333031
As is well known, research is an integral and an important part of any higher education process. Research activities being undertaken at the universities give the universities the status of being repository of knowledge. We at BITS, Pilani fully understand and appreciate the importance of research and accordingly we work most sincerely towards promoting basic and applied research activities. In addition to basic research activities, which are the back-bone of any applied/industrial research, we carry out applied and directed research also to sustain the research activities.
University research is usually economical too as compared to its counterpart i.e. researches being done at industrial set-up because for researches being done at universities, manpower in the form of very bright and creative students is always available. They undertake research projects as a part of their education process itself. Besides students, every teacher also has to conduct research as an integral part of his/her duties because teachers are expected not only to assimilate and disseminates the knowledge but also to generate new knowledge, which is possible only through research.
The number of students in higher degree institutions is increasing every year. There used to be about 7 million students in the institutions of higher learning a decade ago and this number has now grown to about 13.5 million students. This reflects the enormity of research pool available and we have to consciously utilize this energetic and creative pool of research students by providing them with proper guidance and directions for rapid economic growth of the country through research.
We at BITS believe in the philosophy that if the research fructifies into a commercially viable product or process, we must go for patenting the same which in due course would generate funds for further research through royalties obtained from these intellectual properties/patents. However if the research work is unlikely to generate sufficient economic input (such as for research related to certain basic sciences where commercial interest may not lie), it would be better to opt for publishing results rather than going for IPR/patents. Also, if we go for patenting, after filing the patent applications, publications are to be encouraged in the larger interest of scientific community/research. After all, the universities are the main forum for seeding and breeding of research ideas and we want to sustain this aspect. Also, through collaboration with industrial partners, we intend to go for and strengthen the process of scaling up of the research for commercialization of our intellectual properties and train our researchers in the delivery aspects of corporate research. Right now most of the research projects do not strictly follow a time line and such a practice may not be conducive for corporate research or even acceptable to the corporate world. Society also has to finally get benefited by the researches being done at the top class institutions such as BITS, Pilani and this could either be in form of a product or a process or policy or extension activity for socio-economic upliftment of every one in the society.
‘Research at BITS’ is an annual document that brings out the programme of Research, Consultancy and Publication work undertaken by BITS Pilani. This document brings out the highlights of research activities for the year 2007. The annexures provide details of research projects at all the three tiers of education at BITS. A complete list of Doctoral theses for the period 2001 – 2007 is also provided. Research publications and faculty research areas are given in Annexures.
RESEARCH ACHIEVEMENTS IN 2007
FACULTY RESEARCH AREAS AND INFRASTRUCTURE FOR RESEARCH
Research at BITS is a component of an integrated activity encompassing teaching as well as its linkages with the outside world of Academia and Industry. A large number of students at all levels in the three-tier structure of the educational programmes are involved in research. At the first-degree level, a one-semester full-time thesis-seminar course and at the higher degree level a dissertation course offer excellent opportunities to bright students to be involved in research. In the doctoral programme, a large number of Ph.D. students located on-campus, off-campus or at outside centres, are engaged in research work in various research areas. The Institute's linkages with industries, R&D Centres and other institutions in the country and abroad have given a further thrust to the research activities of the Institute.
Faculty development scheme of the Institute, whereby candidates holding M.E./M.Pharm./M.Phil. degrees are given opportunities to work for the Ph.D. degree, continues to be a bright source of junior level manpower for research. Under this scheme, faculty members joining as Assistant Lecturer, after passing Ph.D. Qualifying examination, submit their research proposal for approval of the Research Board. A good number of faculty members are able to use this facility to register for the Ph.D. degree of the Institute while participating in the teaching activity. Upon approval of the research proposal by the Research Board, such a faculty member is promoted as Lecturer. At present there are103 faculty candidates pursuing Ph.D. of the Institute. The Institute reimburses their total admission and tuition fee. In addition, there is a provision of an annual contingency money upto Rs. 10,000/- for professional expenditure incurred by faculty members.
Besides encouraging full-time Ph.D. students to pursue their research work with the support of Fellowships awarded by agencies such as the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), University Grants Commission (UGC), Department of Science & Technology (DST), Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Ministry for Non-conventional Energy Sources (MNES); the Institute also provides assistantship to its full time research scholars. In addition to the assistantship, tuition and admission fee waiver is also provided to deserving candidates. This year a good number of full-time research scholars have joined various research groups. Currently a total of 30 full-time research scholars are getting the Institute assistantship, 5 research scholars are getting fellowship from CSIR, 1 research scholar is getting fellowship from ICMR, 1 research scholar is getting fellowship from Microsoft Research India (MSRI), 2 research scholars are getting fellowships from HP Lab. India, 2 research scholars are getting fellowships from industry sponsored projects, 2 research scholars are getting fellowships from CSIR sponsored projects, 5 research scholars are getting fellowships from DST sponsored projects, 3 research scholars are getting fellowships from DBT sponsored projects, 1 research scholar is getting fellowship from ICMR sponsored project, 1 research scholar is getting fellowship from DRDO sponsored project and 5 research scholars are getting fellowships from UGC sponsored projects. In total, 58 research scholars are getting fellowships/scholarships either from the Institute or from the funds received from government agencies and industries for research projects.
Opportunities are also provided to full time research scholars and faculty for carrying out their research work at outside centres within the country and abroad so as to develop manpower in the newer areas of technology and giving special orientation to research. Currently, institutional arrangements with CDRI, Lucknow; ITRC, Lucknow; USUHS, Bethesda, Maryland, USA and National Cancer Institute (NCI), National Institutes of Health, Fredrick, Maryland, USA exist for this purpose. Two faculty members have completed their Ph.D. at CDRI, Lucknow under this arrangement. Two faculty and four students have already completed their Ph.D. at USUHS, Bethesda and four full-time research students are currently working on their doctoral thesis at USUHS under this arrangement. In addition, two full time research students are currently working for their doctoral thesis at the National Cancer Institute, Fredrick, Maryland, USA. All the six students are being financially supported by USUHS and NCI, USA.
The Off-campus Ph.D. under the Ph.D. Aspirants' scheme has attracted wide attention. Under this scheme opportunities are provided to Ph.D. Aspirants of high standing and proven competence to work for the Ph.D. degree of the Institute without being disturbed from their professional settings.
Collaborations have also been established with the following institutions for providing Ph.D. opportunities to the research fellows, scientists, faculty and engineers from these organizations:
Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai leading to Ph.D. in Physical and Computational Sciences area.
Central Electronics Engineering Research Institute, Pilani leading to Ph.D. in Electronic Sciences & ME/Ph.D. in Microelectronics area.
Chennai Mathematical Institute, Chennai leading to Ph.D. in Mathematics & Theoretical Computer Science area.
Industrial Toxicology Research Centre, Lucknow leading to Ph.D. in Industrial Toxicology area.
The S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai, leading to Ph.D. in Management related areas.
Sankara Nethralaya and Elite School of Optometry, Chennai, leading to Ph.D. in Optometry and Medical Technology area.
L.V. Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad, leading to Ph.D. in Optomology area.
Institute of Cardio-Vascular Disease, Chennai, leading to Ph.D. in Cardiac Science area.
Institute for Technology and Management, Navi Mumbai, leading to Ph.D. in Management related areas.
Institute of Pathology, ICMR, New Delhi, leading to Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences and Pathology related areas.
In addition to the above institutional collaborations, a number of high profile professionals from industries, R&D institutions, government, and education sectors have been permitted to take the Ph.D. Qualifying examination and work for the Ph.D. degree of the Institute. Many such professionals are also involved in educational activities of the Institute as a spin off advantage. These professionals are researching upon topics relevant to Indian industries and society.
The Institute through its intense faculty recruitment drive has been constantly adding manpower at the senior level to provide leadership for R&D and at junior level to provide research work force. As a result of this effort, during this year, a number of faculty members at both these levels have joined.
A number of new research facilities have been added to augment our existing research infrastructure. For example, the Institute has added to its research infrastructure an Animal House (Central Animal Facility), which is CPCSEA approved facility and a Green House along with a new Tissue Culture laboratory. The areas of energy and environmental studies, fibre optics, computer aided analysis and design, flexible manufacturing systems, digital systems, VLSI and embedded systems, communications, robotics and intelligent systems, biotechnology, drug design and delivery systems, image processing, power electronics, materials science and technology, etc. have been strengthened. A number of PC-Based systems and instruments have been added in various laboratories. Research facilities in areas of CAD, Robotics, Fibre Optics, Microelectronics, Materials Science and Technology, Biotechnology, Drug Design and Delivery and FMS areas have been augmented. Some experimental set-ups for process control and materials research have also been acquired. Various Groups and Centres, under UGC X Plan Fund, UGC SAP and DST FIST Fund have purchased several equipments/instruments. Internet facility has been augmented for providing global information access. Furthermore, Motorola (India) has established an Embedded Controllers Applications Centre at BITS. Tata IBM has established IBM Java Competency Centre and it is aimed at high quality people repository in software technologies. A state of the art VLSI design Laboratory called as Oyster Lab. has been setup. A Centre for Women Studies for gender related research and extension activities, a Radio-Isotope Laboratory, having atomic absorption spectro-photometer, g-ray source & various radio-isotopes, a Biotechnology Laboratory having modern research tools such as Multi-channel Analyzer, Refrigerated Centrifuge etc., have also been set up to strengthen the research infrastructure. Also a number of machines and equipments have been added to the existing labs. For example, Industrial CNC Industrial Vertical Machining Centre (LMW KODI-40 Klein), CNC Turning Centre (XLTURN), CNC Train Master T-70 (HMT) Lathe have been added to FMS Lab. and facility has been created for CNC training and research. Similarly, acoustic emission equipment, acousto-ultrasonic equipment, microprocessor controlled servo-hydraulic UTM etc. have been added to the Centre for Materials Science and Technology for advanced research in materials area. Also a campus wide computer network – NEURON (Next Generation Enabled University-wide Redundant Optical Network) gives a big boost to research activities at the Institute.
To augment the existing infrastructure of R&C Division, a new dedicated server has been installed to host the site for Research & Consultancy Division /rcd. This site provides all the required information regarding Ph D admission process, Ph D monitoring process, downloadable evaluation forms, areas of research, faculty research areas, list of Ph D students, list of First Degree Thesis and Higher Degree Dissertation students, Ph D Theses completed so far, details of scholarships and research projects, list of research publications etc.
BITSConnect, a Rs. 7 crores ($1.5 million) project, jointly taken up by BITS alumni and BITS Pilani has provided the Institute a state-of-the-art campus-wide network. This has resulted in creation of 5000 data port, completely switched, voice enabled Campus Wide network with Gigabit fibre optic backbone and 100 Mbps desk top connectivity. The network provides connectivity in each hostel rooms, staff houses, Library, Institute building and Labs.
The lab supports a full chip design capability through state-of-the art EDA tools from CADENCE, MENTOR GRAPHICS and MAGMA. The facilities include front end design tools for design creation, simulation and synthesis, back-end-design tools for mixed signal and a complete package for RTL to GDS flow, FPGA design infrastructure for prototyping. These tools run on a powerful centralized computer server and around 40 clients are connected to it. BITS and its Alumni group and DST have funded the laboratory. Higher degree and First Degree students working in the area of microelectronics and embedded systems are making use of this lab for course work and project work. A Project on ZigBee enabled wireless sensor network is currently being carried jointly by faculty and students.
A DST sponsored Incubator in the area of Embedded Systems and VLSI Design has been established so as to encourage young students to take up Entrepreneurship activities in these areas.
In the M.E./M.Pharm./M.Phil. Programmes, there is a one semester Dissertation component of
15-25 units. Students of higher degrees opting for Dissertation register in this course in their fourth semester and carry out a research project. Hardworking and well-prepared students can carry out their Dissertation along with the course work spread over two or three full semesters.
At the first-degree level, besides various project courses, students can opt for a one full-semester thesis project in which research is pursued on a relevant topic. The thesis can also be carried out at a suitable R&D Centre outside BITS- within India or abroad. Under this scheme, provision exists for a limited number of students to pursue their research at some of the CSIR labs in India and institutions abroad. CAD Lab., Centre for Robotics and Intelligent Systems, Centre for Materials Science and Technology, Power electronics and Microelectronics laboratories and Centre for Software Development etc. of the Institute continue to offer a large number of thesis projects to the students.
The creative and talented pool of students at BITS Pilani is actively engaged in carrying out project work at Practice School Centres. They also contribute towards research activities by participating in Conferences, Seminars, Symposia and Training Programmes. Every year a technological festival called ‘APOGEE’ is organized, wherein the students put up remarkable and ingenious models of latest advances in science and technology.
BITS encourages its faculty to submit research proposals for sponsored research projects. The Institute has sponsored research projects from agencies such as Council for Scientific and Industrial research (CSIR), Department of Science and Technology (DST), Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), University Grants Commission (UGC), Ministry of Nonconventional Energy Sources (MNES), Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR), Ministry of Information Technology (MIT), CISCO, Nokia, Microsoft Research India (MSRI), HP Lab India, National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), Dabur Ltd., IPCA Laboratories Ltd. etc. Section II gives a list of on going sponsored research projects at BITS.
With a view to increase enrolment of Ph.D. students, Institute has created 30 Research Assistantship for full time Research Fellows. Currently, 30 full time research students, who have been admitted to Ph.D. programme, are receiving Research Assistantship. These full time research scholars are doing research in the areas such as Biotechnology, Pharmacy, Civil Engineering, Management, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Humanities and Languages.
The Ministry of Non-conventional Energy Sources (MNES), Govt. of India has provision for three doctoral fellowships for the Institute for advanced study in the area of Renewable Energy under the scheme of National Renewable Energy (NRE) Fellowship scheme.
The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has provided 2 JRFs and 3 SRFs to the research scholars of the Institute. These research fellows; both JRFs and SRFs are working for their Ph.D. degree in the area of Biological Sciences and Chemistry.
The Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) has provided 1 JRF to a research scholar of the Institute. The ICMR JRF is working for her Ph.D. degree in the area of Biological Sciences.
Fellowships under Externally Funded Projects
Apart from the above mentioned fellowships, 2 research scholars are getting fellowships from CSIR sponsored projects, 5 research scholars are getting fellowships from DST sponsored projects, 3 research scholars are getting fellowships from DBT sponsored projects, 1 research scholar is getting fellowship from ICMR sponsored project, 1 research scholar is getting fellowship from DRDO sponsored project and 5 research scholars are getting fellowships from UGC sponsored project. These research fellows are working for their Ph.D. degree in the areas of Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Civil Engineering and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
NXP Semiconductor Fellowships
This year, 11 students of ME (Embedded Systems) and ME (Micro-electronics) programme are receiving fellowship from NXP Semiconductors (earlier named as Philips Semiconductors).
Microsoft Research India Fellowship
One full time Ph. D. student is getting fellowship from Microsoft Research India (MSRI) for his Ph D project in the area of Computer Science.
HP Lab. India Fellowship
Twofull time Ph D students are getting fellowships from HP Lab India for their Ph D Research project in the area of computer science.
Currently the research activities are focused in the following areas:
Areas of Research
Biological Sciences: Environmental Biotechnology, Bioinformatics, Microbial Biotechnology,
Bioengineering: Biomaterials, Biomechanics, Bioinstrumentation, Bio-transport Process.
Civil Engineering: Structures, Water Resources, Geotechnical, Transportation, Environmental Engineering, Image Processing and G.I.S., Disaster Management, Earthquake Engineering, Solar Architecture , Finite Element Method, Non-traditional optimization algorithms, Artificial Neural Networks, Fuzzy Logic and Multicriterion Decision Making and their applications.
Chemical Engineering: Biochemical Engineering, Biofiltration, Biomass Gasification, Computation Fluid Dynamics, Environmental Engineering, Energy Engineering, Evolutionary Computation, Modeling and Simulation, Multi-Objective Optimization, Multiphase reactors, Nanotechnology, Process Control, Process Integration and Process Intensification, Piping Networks, Reaction Engineering, Polymer Engineering, Process Synthesis and Design, Separation Processes.
Chemistry: Theoretical Chemistry, Synthetic Organic Chemistry, Physical, Analytical and Inorganic Chemistry.
Computer Science & Information Systems: Computer Architecture,
Economics and Finance: Macroeconomic Models and Policy, Microeconomic Analysis, Money and Financial Markets, Financial Engineering, Econometric Studies, Financial Modeling, Mathematical Economics, Environmental Economics, Resource Management Systems, Growth Economics, Banking, Micro Finance, Capital Markets, Macroeconomic Modeling, Applied Finance, Environment and Resource Economics International Trade and Finance, Strategy, Financial Management, Corporate Planning, Entrepreneurship, Project Management.
Electrical and Electronics Engineering: Communication Systems, Wireless and Mobile Ad-hoc Networks, Optical Communication and Networks, Microelectronics and VLSI Design, Signal Processing and Embedded Systems, Power Electronics, Telecommunication, Robotics and Intelligent Systems, Fiber Optic Sensor, Signal processing of biomedical and GIS systems, Artificial intelligence techniques in robotics, Instrumentation & control, Wearable computing, Energy and Power Systems.
Humanistic Studies: Gender Issues including Women Studies, Medical Sociology, Developmental Sociology, Indology, Governance, Business Ethics, Conflict Management, Ethical Communication, Social Development, Sustainable Livelihoods, Consciousness Studies, Social Ecology.
Languages: Professional Communication, ELT, Indian Writing in English, Literature and Cinema.
Mathematics: Coding Theory, Cryptology, Parallel Computing, Fuzzy Logic and its applications, Water pollution, Mathematical Modelling of Blood flow in tapered arteries, Nonlinear functional analysis, Computational fluid dynamics & Operation Research, Mathematical Biology, Differential equations & Mathematical Modelling.
Mechanical Engineering: Manufacturing Systems/Manufacturing Excellence, Thermal Engineering, Design Engineering, Materials Engineering, Fracture Studies, Non-destructive Testing, Energy Management, Renewable Energy, Robotics and Intelligent Systems.
Management: Supply Chain Management, Strategic Management, Marketing, Total Quality Management, Technology Management, Performance appraisal, Risk Management, Knowledge Management, Service Management, Entrepreneurship, Managerial competencies, Innovation and business creativity, Marketing Research, Quantitative methods and Business simulation, Negotiations, International Business, Business Ethics, Management Information systems, E-Commerce, Project Appraisal and Policy Formulation, Financial Management, Organizational Behaviour, Human Resource Management, Strategic Cost Management.
Pharmacy: Drug Design, Screening, Drug Delivery Systems, Phytochemistry and Natural Drugs.
Physics: Materials & Nano Science, Condensed Matter Physics, Nuclear & Particle Physics, Optics & Spectroscopy, Theoretical & Computational Physics.
Interdisciplinary Research: Nanotechnology and nanoscience, Nano-robotics, Micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS), Nanomaterials, Mechatronics
Educational Innovation and Institutional Development
The Institute has made attempts to seek the research involvement at all the three tiers of education and achieve an optimum output. The total R&D efforts of BITS have encompassed activities both on-campus as well as off-campus. The faculty development scheme of the Institute has provided quality students for the on-campus Ph.D. programme. Emphasis has been on the networking of research and other professional involvement of candidates. The various research programmes are proving to be purposive and innovative in nature. The total number of Ph.D. candidates in the BITS Ph.D. programme is currently 354. The off-campus Ph.D. scheme has attracted candidates of high standing and research is being carried out by these candidates on topics relevant to their professional involvement in their respective organizations.
The R&C Division of the Institute has a pivotal role in giving practical shape to the research directions of the Institute. The Division looks after the planning, administration and organisation of research at all the three tiers, conduct of Ph.D. qualifying examination and other related activities across the Institute cutting across the boundaries of individual disciplines. It also interfaces with outside agencies for sponsored research projects submitted by the faculty members. Several sponsored research projects have been carried out in the past and currently there are several on-going research projects.
The next section and appendices give details of research achievements in the current year.