Preeti Aghalayam to lead Zanzibar IIT campus

Aghalalayam will be the first woman to lead an IIT as the director-in-charge

India established the first Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) international campus in Zanzibar, Tanzania, marking an educational partnership between the two countries. The African campus which will be managed by the IIT Madras campus, announced the appointment of Preeti Aghalayam as the dean of the School of Science & Engineering and director-in-charge of the Zanzibar campus.

In he new role, Aghalayam creates history as the first woman Director-in-charge an IIT campus. In a press conference she stated, "IIT Madras is proud to bring its deep and long-term education and research strengths to East Africa. The campus is planned in similar terms as Madras, with verdant natural surroundings, state-of-the-art classrooms, laboratories, research facilities, and innovation centers."

Having pursued her Bachelor in Technology in chemical engineering from IIT M, Aghalayam went on to pursue her Masters at the University of Rochester and a Ph.D. at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UoM A) in the same discipline. After serving as a research assistant at UoM A, she was a post-doctoral research fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. On returning to India, Aghalayam became an assistant professor at IIT Mumbai and later a professor at IIT Madras.

The IIT Madras Zanzibar Campus will commence its first academic year in October 2023, offering two full-time academic programs: a four-year Bachelor of Science in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, and a two-year Master of Technology in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence. The campus will initially admit a total of 70 students, and applications for the 2023 batch are currently open.

Prof. Raghunathan Rengaswamy, the dean of Global Engagement at IIT Madras, said, "This is the most significant step forward in the internationalization efforts of IIT Madras. A detailed strategic plan that includes increasing the number of international students, fostering meaningful and synergistic joint degree programs with international academic institutions, and enhancing faculty/student mobility has been laid out by us. Opportunities for a full-fledged physical campus abroad were being strongly explored, and it is heartening to see the realization of these ambitions."

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