Educational Column

IIT Mandi’s ISTP Program exposing national and international students to the complex interactions of technology and society

This program is part of their undergraduate 3rd year requirement during which they work on projects to examine the interrelationships of environment, technology, and society through direct engagement with community stakeholders.

MANDI, 2 nd May 2023: With an objective to sensitize students with the problems around them in
their society and develop a sense of responsibility in them by being the solution provider Indian
Institute of Technology Mandi  offers semester long Interactive Socio-Technical Practicum
(ISTP) course to the 3rd year B.Tech. students under the design and innovation stream. This
course is designed to encourage the interdisciplinary academic culture among students.
As part of the ISTP, between March to May this year, the Institute is hosting 18 students from
Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) on the campus for Socio Technical Practicum (ISTP),
including 5 female and 13 male students, from the USA.
These students have education background in science and technology with majors in fields
such as Aerospace Engineering, Civil Engineering, Chemistry, and Robotics, among others.
This program is part of their undergraduate 3rd year requirement during which they work on
projects to examine the interrelationships of environment, technology, and society through direct
engagement with community stakeholders.
Speaking about the ISTP program, Dr. Rajeshwari Dutt, ISTP Coordinator, IIT Mandi, said,
“The real need of today is to have engineers who design solutions keeping in mind the needs of
society. ISTP with its emphasis on projects that are at the cusp of society and technology allows
our students to find innovative solutions to the pressing needs of local communities and work
towards a sustainable society. As such, it is a project-based course that has the potential for
real and long-term impact on society.”
Talking about the uniqueness of the program, Dr. Shockey, Ingrid, Faculty in-charge &
Teaching Professor of Global Studies, WPI, said, “The program encourages students to see
community members as experts on their own lived experiences from the Himalayan regions.
This is a unique opportunity for STEM students to understand the value of learning from local
stakeholders about issues such as climate change, water resources, agricultural practices, and

so forth. This invites an exchange of ideas between students, scientists, and communities, and
across institutes.”
The projects are based on real-world problems and are designed to have a positive impact on
society. A total of approximately 160 students have come from WPI to IIT Mandi since 2013 with
approximately 20 students each spring excluding the Covid period.
This is an immersive experience designed to teach students about the complexity of decision
making in real life. The ISTP program is designed to bridge the gap between theoretical
knowledge and practical skills by encouraging students to work on real-world problems and
projects that require interdisciplinary thinking and collaboration. The program brings together
students from different departments and disciplines to work together on projects that have
social, economic, and environmental implications.
Through the ISTP, these students explore the various issues/challenges of society and come up
with technology-based solutions for the problems and evaluate the proposed solutions from
social, technical, economical, environmental, and other aspects.
Also, whenever required and possible, help from the local administration, NGOs working in the
region, etc. is sought for the implementation of the solutions.
ISTP exposes students to the complex interactions of technology and society. It equips the
students with the tools and skills to systematically understand and evaluate these interactions.
On a higher plane, ISTP intends to nurture the students with qualities required to become an
excellent engineer or technocrat who contributes to society in a variety of ways. The overall
objective of this project is to make a positive contribution to our community.

About Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI)
Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) is a private research university in Worcester, Massachusetts. This
institute was founded in 1865 in Worcester. WPI was one of the United States' first engineering and
technology universities and now has 14 academic departments with over 50 undergraduate and graduate
degree programs in science, engineering, technology, management, the social sciences, and the
humanities and arts, leading to bachelor's, master's and PhD degrees.

About IIT Mandi

IIT Mandi has nine Academic Schools and five major Research Centers. The Schools are the School of
Biosciences and Bioengineering (SBBE), School of Chemical Sciences (SCS), School of Mathematical
and Statistical Sciences (SMSS), School of Physical Sciences (SPS), School of Mechanical and Materials
Engineering (SMME), School of Civil and Environmental Engineering (SCENE), School of Computing and
Electrical Engineering (SCEE), School of Humanities and Social Sciences (SHSS), and School of
Management (SOM). The Centers are Advanced Materials Research Centre (AMRC), Centre for Design
and Fabrication of Electrical Devices (C4DFED), BioX Centre, Indian Knowledge System and Mental
Health Applications Centre (IKSMHA Centre) and Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics.
The Institute offers B.Tech. programs in seven different streams, one M.A. program, ten M.Tech.
programs, nine Ph.D. programs, and one iPh.D. program. The unique, project-oriented B.Tech. curriculum
is centered around its 4-year long Design and Innovation stream. Since the inception of the
Institute, IIT Mandi faculty have been involved in over 275 Research and Development (R&D) projects
worth more than Rs. 120 crores.
IIT Mandi established the IIT Mandi iHub and HCI Foundation (iHub; a section-8 company) on its campus
at Kamand with significant funding of INR 110 crores from the Department of Science and Technology
(DST), Government of India. The iHub is planned to fuel research and technology development, skill
development, startup and innovation, and collaborations in the HCI and allied AI/ML areas in
India. IIT Mandi is the only second-generation IIT to be featured at rank 7 in the Atal Ranking of
Institutions on Innovation Achievements of the Innovation Cell, Ministry of Education, Govt. of India.

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