Tech & Skills: Nurturing an innovation mindset

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November 25, 2021 3:00 AM

Intel’s Unnati Program aims to advance emerging technology skills in India; starting off with 100 Intel Unnati Data-Centric Labs across key universities and engineering institutes over the next one year

The initiative will provide higher education institutions long-term capabilities in technology and lab infrastructure, enabling greater focus on research and innovation.The initiative will provide higher education institutions long-term capabilities in technology and lab infrastructure, enabling greater focus on research and innovation.

Standing At the cusp of rapid digitalisation, India aims to be a $1-trillion digital economy by 2025. Equipping the country’s current and future workforce with emerging technology infrastructure, tools and skills is a foundational element for progress in this digital transformation journey. The National Education Policy 2020 stresses the need for greater industry-academic linkages, and for higher education institutions to focus on research and innovation with a strategic thrust towards new and emerging disciplines.

To help equip engineering students in India with industry relevant data-centric skills, Intel recently announced the launch of the Intel Unnati Program that aims to set up 100 Intel Unnati Data-Centric Labs in emerging technologies across universities and engineering institutes in India over the next one year. The initiative will provide higher education institutions long-term capabilities in technology and lab infrastructure, enabling greater focus on research and innovation.

“Technology has never been more important than it is today and is a critical driver of future growth. It is imperative to ensure young talent in India has access to the right infrastructure and course content to keep pace with the fast-changing needs and expectations of the technology industry,” said Nivruti Rai, country head of Intel India and vice president of Intel Foundry Services. “Intel Unnati Data-Centric Labs will enable educational institutions to bridge the widening technology skill gap in the country, build industry-ready emerging technology competencies and provide strategic impetus to India’s digital economy transformation.”

Focused on technology inclusion, the Intel Unnati Program strives to broaden access to technology infrastructure for faculty and students at educational institutions across all tiers. The goal is to strengthen industry-academia collaboration to equip students with skills in new and emerging technologies and provide educational institutions with the know-how to set up end-to-end labs in these industry relevant technologies.

Institutions can choose from lab variants based on their budgets and where they stand in the technology and infrastructure journey. Each Intel Unnati lab includes hardware and software stack recommendations from Intel, course content and co-branded course completion certificates for students. Currently, labs are available for artificial intelligence (AI), FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Arrays) solutions and AI Internet of Things (AIIoT), with other technologies including smart mobility and security in the pipeline.

The programme implementation is supported by a network of system integrators across India who can customise the lab configuration to suit each institution’s requirements, train the faculty on course content, and provide ongoing maintenance support. The emphasis is on hands-on experiences that build confidence among students in the use of hardware and software toolkits.

The Intel Unnati Program has been piloted across 15 colleges that are in the process of setting up Centres of Excellence on their campuses. The labs are already operational in three institutes including Galgotias University – Uttar Pradesh, OPJU – Chattisgarh, and Vinayaka Mission – Tamil Nadu. Other colleges that are part of the pilot include IIIT Dharwad – Karnataka, Amrita University – Tamil Nadu and Kerala, Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT)-AP, Yeswant Rao Chavan Engineering College – Maharashtra, T John Engineering College – Karnataka, Marwadi University – Gujarat, SRM University – Tamil Nadu, Hindustan University – Tamil Nadu, LPU – Punjab, COE Roorkee- Uttarakhand, Parul University – Gujarat, and Kumaraguru College – Tamil Nadu.

“VIT-AP is involved in an active process of applied learning,” said SV Kota Reddy, vice chancellor, VIT-AP University. “With its focus on data-centric technologies, Intel Unnati labs provide an excellent platform for students to build industry-relevant skills in emerging technologies like AI, HPC, FPGA and AIIoT. Intel Unnati complements our current programmes and curricula well. I view it as a strong ally in our attempts to realise our vision and build a research and innovation ecosystem that produces impactful work.”

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