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Saturday, April 17, 2010

FOCUS ON FUSION

Article Collected by AndhraColleges.com - Education is My Passion

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Author : DIPAL GALA

THE SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY TODAY NEEDS PROFESSIONALS WHO CAN EFFECTIVELY WORK ACROSS TRADITIONAL BOUNDARIES OF ACADEMIC DISCIPLINES, INFORMS DIPAL GALA

Nanotechnology
Developing new materials with dimensions on the nanoscale
Biomedical Engineering
Deals with the integration of medicine and instruments
Cognitive Science
Study of mind or the study of thought
Applied linguistics
Offers solutions to language-related real-life problems
Biophysics
Employs methods of the physical sciences for the investigation of biological systems
Astrobiology
study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe
Cybernetics
study of the structure of regulatory systems
Neuroscience
Scientific study of the nervous system
Econophysics

Applies theories and methods of the physical sciences to solve problems in economics 

   Dr R A Mashelkar, Ex-Director General of Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) and the President of Indian National Science Academy (INSA) very aptly summarises the course of scientific development and research around the world as ‘borderless’. He substantiates by illustrating the example of Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, winner of the 2009 Noble Prize for chemistry for his studies of the structure and function of the ribosome and whose work very successfully combines the traditional domains of phyiscs and chemistry. “Even modern biology has become very mathematical, based on genetics, quantum mechanics and other streams and it is very unlikely to come across minds in the west that believe that the traditional disciplines can work in silos. Unfortunately in India, the compartmentalisation starts very early as students study biology because they do not like maths. Given the way the scientific developments are happening all over the world, this is a serious handicap,” agrees Professor P J Narayanan, Dean (R&D), IIIT-Hyderabad.

CENTRES OF EXCELLENCE

Dr P Banerjee, Director NISTADS, Delhi, says that in the fields of environmental science, health sciences, and computing specialisations, there is a palpable demand for interdisciplinary professionals immediately. “In India, leadership in interdisciplinary sciences has been shown by the ISI, Chennai Mathematical School, Delhi University, Hyderbad Central University, Jadavpur University, Anna University, IIT Kharagppur, IIT Kanpur, IIT Chennai. The reason we have not been able to bring this crucial approach to our scientists and engineers is that in India most convergence education happens at the doctoral level. But that is changing fast,” he informs.

AN INTERDISCIPLINARY ECOSYSTEM

Several institutions are working towards bringing on the change. “We are aware that the curriculum available is restricting the capable student. Not only are we sprucing up the different streams in engineering, we are starting a school of medical sciences and a school of law on campus to help create an ecosystem for interdisciplinary students to flourish. We are setting up several interdisciplinary masters programmes with the electrical, mechanical engineering, biosciences, cyberlaw and infrastructure engineering streams,” shares Dr Y V Rao, Director of NITWarangal, which has played a mentoring role for technology institutions in the south India.

   Some institutions have reorganised their entire curriculum to suit the interdisciplinary approach. IIIT-Hyderabad, for example, which specialises in robotics, computer vision, natural language processing, has master’s programmes which draws from disciplines of the arts, biology, mechanical engineering and artificial intelligence. “Our interdisciplinary approach starts at the undergraduate level and this year about 30 international publications have come from them. Science itself has become largely computational in all the new frontiers of technology, and a rigid approach would make a student seriously handicapped. Students should focus on strong fundamentals, and then pick up the other disciplines as and when they need,” advises Narayanan.

EMPLOYMENT WISE

HR head of Dr Reddy’s, Prabir Jha is of the opinion that while science is getting increasingly interdisciplinary, students should have specialist strengths at the base level. “What is becoming very common is an interdisciplinary work groups and an appreciation of multiple sciences is absolutely essential in the pharma work space today,” he adds. 

   According to Dr P Aanandan, Managing Director, Microsoft Research India, corporates today have realised the importance of multidisciplinary teams that can be crucial while finding solutions to complex problems. “In Microsoft for example, we have a equal number of sociologists and technologists in our ICT team for development programmes which focus on new technology for developing countries, ” says Aanandan, who is also a former assistant professor of computer science at the Yale University.

A LIBERAL MINDSET

Education always responds to the requirements of society. As Mashelkar says, “We actually started thinking of indigenous products and solutions only after we liberalised our economy in 1991, and never before that. Most of the innovations that you see today are interdisciplinary and we are in the nascent stage when it comes to sectors like telecommunications, pharma and alternative health sciences.” He also considers the cell phone revolution and the making of the Nano car exemplary examples of the application of interdisciplinary science to modern day needs and feels that indigenous discoveries and inventions in pharmacy and technology were delayed and hampered by our own closed minds.

NEW CAREER AVENUES   

Biomedical Engineering: Deals with the integration of medicine and instruments i.e. material engineering sciences with life sciences catering to the endless needs in diagnostics and internal medicine sensors (bioinstrumentation). Prominent biomedical engineering applications include the development of biocompatible prostheses, various diagnostic and therapeutic medical devices ranging from clinical equipment to microimplants, common imaging equipment such as MRIs and EEGs, biotechnologies such as regenerative tissue growth, and pharmaceutical drugs and biopharmaceuticals. All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi (www.aiims.ac.in) and Jadavpur University (www.jadavpur.edu) offer courses in it.

   Cognitive science is the study of mind or the study of thought. It embraces multiple research disciplines, including psychology, artificial intelligence, philosophy, neuroscience, linguistics, anthropology, sociology and biology. It relies on varying scientific methodology (e.g. behavioural experimentation, computational simulations, neuro-imaging and is used extensively in the fields of artificial intelligence and robotics. Courses offered at Centre of Behavioural and Cognitive Sciences (CBCS), University of Allahabad (http://www.cbcs.ac.in/)

   Nanotechnology is very diverse, ranging from extensions of conventional device physics to completely new approaches based upon molecular self-assembly, from developing new materials with dimensions on the nanoscale. The IITs at Mumbai, Kanpur, Chennai, Guwahati and Delhi offers courses in this discipline.

   Applied linguistics is an interdisciplinary field of study that identifies, investigates, and offers solutions to languagerelated real-life problems and is used widely in the technology space. The University of Delhi offers an advanced diploma course in it.

   Biophysics is an interdisciplinary science that employs methods of the physical sciences for the investigation of biological systems. Courses offered at University of Madras (http://www.unom.ac.in/guindybiophysics.ht ml).     Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe. Astrobiology makes use of physics, chemistry, astronomy, biology, molecular biology, ecology, planetary science, geography and geology.

   Cybernetics is the interdisciplinary study of the structure of regulatory systems. It connects the fields of control systems, electrical network theory, mechanical engineering, logic modeling, evolutionary biology, neuroscience, anthropology, and psychology. The IITs offer courses in this discipline.

   Neuroscience is the scientific study of the nervous system. University of Chennai (www.unom.ac.in) and NIMHANS (www.nimhans.kar.nic.in) are institutes of repute for studies in this discipline.

   Econophysics is an interdisciplinary research field, applying theories and methods originally developed by physicists in order to solve problems in economics.    Computing Graphics are graphics created using computers and, more generally, the representation and manipulation of pictorial data by a computer. It has revolutionised the animation and video game industry, it blends fine arts, pixel art and vector graphics.

   Materials Science aims at revolutionising the construction industry, and is essentially built around materials, nanotechnology, engineering, architecture, design and environmental sciences

Source : Times of India
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