June 7, 2013

Waiting....at the J.J. School of Architecture


Taking advantage of some free time; the principal of the J.J. College of Architecture is tied up in a meeting, so I have 45 minutes or so to spend on the combined campus of the School of Art and the School of Architecture. A very kind 5th (final) year student interested in urban design and urban planning was kind enough to get me un-lost and help me make contact with the principal. So might as well get caught up. 
I had found a nice shady tree by the (very cool-see picture) canteen to wait, but the bird in the tree found a very effective way of demonstrating I was not welcome there, so I've ended up sitting on the steps of the "old" building.
Yesterday's visit to IIT Bombay was a lot of fun; I got to meet not only the Director, Prof. Devang Khakhar, but also A.K. Suresh, the Dean for Faculty Affairs, and K. Narayanan, the Head of the Dept. for Humanities and Social Sciences- who does extremely interesting work in environmental economics. (Both Profs. Khakhar and Suresh are chemical engineers...what is it with chemists and university administration? They said many if not most of the administrators at a lot of the IITs are chemists. This makes me wonder if there is some sort of global pattern!)
IITB is one of the elite institutions with the extraordinarily low acceptance rates and very very bright students. The faculty members of the faculty I spoke to were-as one would expect- doing exceedingly interesting work (particularly in the areas of climate change adaptation/mitigation!) though I am afraid my jammed USB drive which contained my only updated copy of the talk I was supposed to give was a bit of a distraction (thanks again Prof. for fixing it!). I was interested to hear the story of their 5-yr old curriculum change, which allowed students to choose a minor in addition to their major field of study. They feel the experiment has been largely successful, since students are able to exercise some choice, and develop an area of interest that they may not have qualified for a degree in...though the student has to choose between devoting that time to another field or to added depth in their major field, which would qualify them for honors.    
Time for the meeting...