An ornate entryway leads into Amrita University.

Prasad Calyam visited Amrita University last year, where he gave presentations on technology and innovation with the goal of showcasing Mizzou Engineering’s strengths in these areas to a strong partner institution. Photo courtesy of Prasad Calyam.

Mizzou Engineering is always on the lookout for mutually beneficial partnerships with world-class institutions around the world. And the College recently signed a memorandum of understanding to formalize a partnership with one of India’s finest private universities.

MU Engineering and Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham (Amrita University) recently entered into a formal working agreement. Some of the goals of the partnership for MU are:

  • Developing unique experiential learning opportunities for students
  • Encourage direct faculty exchanges, including joint research proposals, faculty visits, research leaves, etc.
  • Recruit quality graduate students from Amrita
  • Develop coordinated undergraduate and graduate programs
  • Deliver online courses on specific topics

Sharing students through exchange programs, adding high-quality graduate students and coming together to share the resources and expertise of both faculty make this partnership a win-win for both institutions.

Mizzou Engineering and Amrita have been building toward a partnership for several years, with multiple MU faculty and Amrita faculty visiting the others’ institutions and collaborating on various research projects. The MOU solidified this relationship. One of MU’s faculty liaisons with Amrita, Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Vellore Gopalaratnam, will serve his tenure in the Fulbright Specialist Program at Amrita during December 2018, undertaking several projects. He is scheduled to co-organize a workshop on Precast Prestressed Concrete there in December, besides teaching a three-credit undergraduate/graduate elective on Prestressed Concrete – Analyses, Design and Construction and conducting a faculty development workshop on Fracture Mechanics of Concrete.

“It really is high time that we formalize some of these things into more productive joint ventures,” Gopalaratnam explained. “There was a team from Amrita that came in June 2017, and since then, we’ve been following up. And they went back and promptly followed up with online meetings with several faculty groups at MU.”

Gopalaratnam said that Amrita leadership is interested in growing in the areas Mizzou Engineering has deemed its four Pillars of Pursuit: Educating Engineering Leaders, Big Data Analytics, Biomedical Innovations and Sustainability inFEWSed (Food, Energy, Water, Smart Cities).

Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Associate Professor Prasad Calyam said Amrita’s approach to problem-solving research is a great match for Mizzou.

“They go after important societal problems such as helping fisherman be safe using wireless networking in turbulent ocean environments, and even helping vulnerable citizens be protected from attacks in cyber space, then bring in all the multidisciplinary people to solve these problems,” he explained.

One of the areas that is intriguing for MU Engineering is Amrita’s Live-In Labs program. The goal of this program is to take students out of the lab and have them live in a given community, where they will work to solve a real-world problem facing its residents. Previous projects have aided areas damaged by landslides following recent natural disasters, areas with underserved electrical connectivity issues and more.

Calyam researched the program on a recent visit to Amrita.

“From the perspective of Amrita founder Mata Amritanandamayi, when you’re seeking to try and solve problems with relevance to society, the problems generally aren’t scoped well in a researcher’s lab. The problems are out there,” he said. “The problem foundations are where the people are. Students and Faculty need to get out of the lab and work where the problems are in order to truly solve them.”

The partnership has already been beneficial, and now that it is formalized, look for it to become bigger and better in the years to come. Significant infrastructure investments in India (30+ new urban metro rail systems, with associated bridges, tunnels in addition to major housing investments), advances in artificial intelligence, and sensor-technology for health monitoring, all offer unique opportunities for MU Engineering to benefit from joint research and educational opportunities with Amrita.

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