On behalf of the WIT International Office, Dr Sheila O’Donohoe from the WIT School of Business and James Clarke of the Telecommunications Software and Systems Group (TSSG) of WIT travelled to India from 9 – 21stOctober, 2019, to participate in the Education in Ireland Fairs around India, with stops in Bangalore, Coimbatore, Chennai, Pune, and Mumbai, and additional stop-offs in New Delhi and Gwalior; in addition to the fairs, the WIT team participated to many other important in-house fairs and events in tandem partner agencies in India and previous contacts with Universities throughout India made through the EU-India FI-MEDIA project, which was coordinated by James Clarke during 2014-2019.
Enterprise Ireland is responsible for the promotion of Irish Higher Education Institutions overseas; as part of this, the student recruitment fairs were organised by Enterprise Ireland under the Education in Ireland national brand, under the authority of the Minister for Education and Skills. In the introduction to the fairs kick-off, it was reported that approximately 4,500 Indian students came to Ireland to study in 2019, which is a substantial 20% increase on 2018. It was also reported that year on year growth in postgraduate courses is expected due to the two year stay back period on student visas to allow work in Ireland after graduation, and we are also likely to see a surge in undergraduate interest.
Ms. Sinead Day, International Affairs Manager in WIT, explained the strategy for participation at the Education in Ireland international fairs, “The Office for International Relations at WIT has actively engaged with the Indian higher education market since 2002. Together with Education in Ireland, we have recognized the opportunities that exist between Ireland and India to engage in higher education pathways and research collaborations.”
At the Education in Ireland fairs in all of the cities, there was considerable interest from India students in coming to Waterford Institute of Technology for Undergraduate (UG) studies, primarily Business (BBS Hons), BSc (Hons) in Applied Computing, and all Engineering courses plus Architecture. The postgraduate courses most commonly sought after were primarily in Engineering, Computing, Global Financial Information Systems and MBS Management.
During the roadshow stops, there were also a number of in-house recruitment fairs organised by agents based in India, including Fateh, New Strides, The Chopras and Edwise. The WIT team supported these events also, and they provided a good opportunity to meet students on more of a personal one-to-one basis.
Dr Sheila O’Donohoe (left) and James Clarke (right) greeting prospective students in EI Fair Bangalore
During the trip to India, James Clarke travelled to New Delhi and Gwalior to leverage his previous contacts made while coordinating the EU-India FI-MEDIA project, which received funding by the Delegation of the European Union to India during 2014 – 2019. Within the FI-MEDIA project, in the final year, the project spearheaded the establishment of an ongoing Center of Cooperation (CoC) on Smart Villages, and Mr. Clarke took this opportunity to co-organise a workshop dedicated to the CoC on Smart Villages, with the help of his partners, IIT Delhi Department of Management Studies and Beyond Evolution Tech. Solutions, ABV-IIIT&M, Gwalior, and Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia Krishi Vishwa Vidyalaya (RVSKVV – Agricultural University). This workshop was a follow up to an EU-India networking session organised by the FI-MEDIA project held in Vienna, Austria at ICT 2018 and two earlier workshops kindly hosted at ABV-IIIT&M, Gwalior. For details of these events, please see the project’s yearbook of success – 4th edition – here.
As a result, on 16th October, 2019, ABV-IIIT&M, Gwalior hosted a full day workshop broken into 3 segments: 1. Update of status and next steps on the implementation of a Centre of Cooperation (CoC) on Smart Villages, as originally initiated by FI-Media, including presentations by Prof P. Chanak (ABV-IIIT&M, Gwalior) and Prof S.K. Rao (RVSKVV – Agricultural University), and Mr. Abhishek Sharma (BETS); 2. Presentations from WIT – TSSG PI’s, James Clarke, EU Strategic Liaison Manager and EU – India FI-MEDIA coordinator, Sasitharan Balasubramaniam, Director of Research at TSSG, and Hazel Williams, TSSG Senior Strategic Business Partner (Agri) | VistaMilk Site Manager | Regional Cluster Lead for Smart Agri Hubs, and 3. Presentation of WITs offerings to post graduates students in Gwalior.
The main outcomes of the workshop were a substantial proposal is already in a mature state for the development of a CoC on Smart Villages and the core team is in the process of determining the most appropriate Department in the Government of India to submit the proposal to maximise its success. This should be decided in the next two months, at which point the proposal will be ready for submission. In advance of the submission, there is already very interesting work already started in Gwalior by both ABV-IIIT&M, Gwalior and, presented by Prof P. Chanak (ABV-IIIT&M, Gwalior) and Prof S.K. Rao (RVSKVV – Agricultural University), respectively, with the assistance of Mr. Abhishek Sharma (BETS), who is in charge of the scaling up of industry involvement within the CoC. The work involves very complementary work to the Science Foundation Ireland’s VistaMilk on livestock management, including smart dairy. There is also good synergy with the TSSG coordinated MELD project on Early Lameness Detection Through Machine Learning and they were very interested to include this in their portfolio as they don’t include this element in their livestock management work as yet. Prof. S.K. Rao presented a large scale pilot already underway involving 1,000 villages and they have a strong desire to work with TSSG in these pilots.
A number of complementary platforms and initiatives being coordinated and carried out by TSSG were presented during the workshop via skype by Dr Sasitharan Balasubramaniam, Director of Research at TSSG, and Hazel Williams, Senior Strategic Business Partner (Agri) | VistaMilk Site Manger | Regional Cluster Lead for Smart Agri Hubs. The presentations covered Future Communications for Precision Farming, including the Science Foundation Ireland funded Centre of excellence VistaMilk, EU H2020 DEMETER project, The Digital Innovation Hub, known as PACE and EU H2020 Smart Agri-Hubs project. The faculty members and students present were particularly interested and impressed with the presentations by the WIT – TSSG staff, and could clearly see the synergies of all the presentations on four Smart Agriculture initiatives being driven by WIT – TSSG in both the Ireland and the EU context, with the future work in the CoC on Smart Villages in Gwalior. They indicated a keen willingness in pursuing MoU’s with WIT – TSSG and desire to undertake both staff and student exchanges in the near term to continue working together on these topics that could improve and empower villages with advanced ICT technologies such as AI, IoT, etc. In addition, there was a Professor from the Physics department of ABV-IIIT&M, Gwalior, Professor Pankaj Srivastava, and he’s particularly interested in relation to the use of nanotechnology in smart dairy and humans.
Kevin Doolin, Director of Innovation at TSSG and Project Coordinator of the EU H2020 DEMETER project, which started on 1st September, 2019, reflected on the trip outcomes, “It is of tremendous benefit and value to bring our Precision Agriculture research and innovation accomplishments in both the Irish and EU context to an international dimension through activities such as teaming up with this Centre of Cooperation in Smart Villages in India. It is in our strategy that TSSG plans to continue to work closely with the WIT International Office in continuing these kinds of bi-lateral and multi-lateral activities with international partners.”
Finally, James Clarke gave a presentation of life in Waterford to a cohort of Masters Students from Gwalior interested in studying abroad in Ireland, and he presented the international students guidebook on available opportunities for continuing their education at Waterford Institute of Technology. Mr. Clarke presented the obvious benefits of studying in Waterford over larger cities in terms of costs, available 2 year visa stay-backs for work after their degree is obtained, and the eligibility requirements for their studies and scholarships.
Group photo taken at the ABV-IIIT&M, Gwalior Smart Villages Workshop held on 16th October, 2019
Following the trip to Gwalior, on 17th October, 2019, James Clarke participated in a round table with professors and students at the Department of Management Studies (DMS) of IIT Delhi. The participating students were mainly PHD scholars that are interested in postdoc work, mainly from a business perspective, although there was also interest in Artificial Intelligence for health and Smart Agriculture.
Prof. MP Gupta, DMS, IIT Delhi, Mr. Abhishek Sharma, BETS / FI-MEDIA, Mr. James Clarke, WIT-TSSG.
James Clarke presenting WIT to Professors and Students at IIT Delhi, New Delhi, India
Following the successful visit at IIT Delhi, James Clarke, along with Abhishek Sharma from the FI-MEDIA project, met with members of staff at the ICT division at the Delegation of the EU to India in New Delhi, to debrief them on results of the IIIT&M, Gwalior workshop, as the original concept of the CoC Smart Villages came from the cluster partnership in the EU-India FI-MEDIA project, which was supported by the Delegation. They took a very good interest in the results as it will help them in figuring out potential topics for future EU-India collaboration in areas related to ICT. Interesting, Precision Agriculture is one of the key topics already identified by the ICT WG on EU-India cooperation, so this matches very well with the work that WIT is doing in this space, including the CoC in Smart Villages, and the EU and Irish funded activities presented earlier.
On the final day of the Education in Ireland roadshow, there was a dedicated Awards Ceremony and Reception with Ireland’s Ambassador to India, Mr. Brendan Ward. In his keynote address, Mr. Ward commended the participants on the strong turnout from the Irish HEA institutions in support of the Education in Ireland roadshow and he thanked them all for their active participation and determination in the promotion of Ireland in India in this particular endeavour of attracting the best and brightest from India to come study and work in Ireland.
Ms. Sinead Day, International Affairs Manager at WIT, concluded on the successful outcomes of the mission in India, “We are aware from recently commissioned research by Education in Ireland that over half of India’s 1.3 billion population is under 25 years, and that within the next 5 years, India is expected to have the largest population of persons aged 25-34 years in the world. Growing sectors of employment include Information and Communications Technologies, Fin Tech, Business and Engineering, and employers want to hire graduates with data science and analytics competencies and skills. In line with India’s national strategy to boost technology and innovation, WIT offers programmes of study that meet these demands, and through strategic research collaborations aims to further strengthen India-Ireland collaborations in higher education”. “We are very appreciative to both Sheila and James for participating in this mission to India, and hope to engage more WIT academic and research staff in these international missions in the future”, concluded Ms. Day.
James Clarke (WIT -TSSG), Brendan Ward (Ambassador of Ireland to India, Bangladesh. The Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka), and Dr Sheila O’Donohoe (WIT)