Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Very Different University

In the year 2007, The Noble award for Peace was awarded to United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. On behalf of this committee, the award was accepted by former US Vice president, Mr. Al Gore and an eminent Indian Scientist, Mr. Rajendra K. Pachauri, who is a well known persona working in the areas of Global Warming, Environment, Pollution and Energy Conservation.
It was no surprise that when Mr. Pachauri announced the creation of a new university,offering courses and research facilities in the field of sustainable development some ten years back, attention of scientists from the world over was drawn to it. This new university named as TERI is taking shape today. Many industry executives and education experts praise this university for the way it has started training people and carrying out research in finding solutions to problems such as environmental degradation, pollution and poverty elimination.

Rajendra Pachauri’s TERI university is now housed in a brand new, eco- friendly building in the Vasant-Kunj area of New Delhi, India. With the help of modern Architectural practices, the university building has been designed to consume minimal energy while providing adequate comfort and requisite level of resources necessary for training and research. Great care has been taken while designing this building to create an environment consummate for education and research. Besides passive energy saving architectural designs, the building boasts of the use of solar energy and an earth-air tunnel to meet part of the air-conditioning requirements. This technology uses the heat sink property of earth to maintain comfortable temperatures inside the building. Supplementary systems have been used for extreme conditions (monsoon). The special design would result in 40% energy savings in comparison to a conventionally design building. Water saving measures make it possible to have 25% reduction in the potable water use only by use of efficient fixtures. In addition, reuse of waste-water for irrigation purpose through resource and energy efficient biological processes and rainwater harvesting for aquifer recharge would also contribute to efficient water management. Thermal mass storage is used in the classrooms. It involves storing energy when available and using it when required. In this arrangement, cooling of the thermal mass is done during night (when ambient temperatures are lower). During daytime, when ambient temperatures are high, the thermal storage is used as sink for the fresh air required.

TERI university gets full support and backing of an environmental think tank, Energy and Research Institute, founded by Rajendra Pachauri in 1974. This support makes it possible for the TERI university to undertake training and research in such fields as environmental upgradation, pollution and poverty reduction. TERI university can also bank upon the brainpower available with this think tank
TERI university offers post graduate courses and research programs in seven fields such as natural-resources management, water-resources management, public policy and sustainable development. It also offers doctorates in the broad areas of biotechnology, energy and environment, regulatory and policy studies, and natural-resources management. The curriculum is a mix of social sciences and hard sciences. Students enrolled in water-resources management will also study policy issues, and students enrolled in public policy and sustainable development will also study pure sciences. The student to faculty ratio is maintained at four to one. After one year of course work, students assist on projects in such fields as reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, building waste-water-treatment systems, and helping townships manage waste in an environmentally friendly manner. Since the students are well trained in the field in multidisciplinary curricula, the industry is ever eager to absorb the fresh graduates.

Impressed with the good work done by this University, Yale university decided to invite Rajendra Pachauri to head its new Climate and Energy Institute. Almost 100 Yale scientists, engineers, physicians, social scientists and policy experts have joined together to launch the enterprise For Yale, which shall provide seed grants, support graduate study, sponsor conferences and workshops, and foster interdisciplinary research in areas ranging from basic atmospheric science to public policy. TERI university would be surely benefited with this association. TERI has also signed co-operation agreements with international universities such as North Carolina State, Michigan State and Brandeis Universities; as well as with the Free University of Berlin, and with the University of New South Wales, in Australia. However association with Yale is likely to augment TERI resources as Yale, which last year announced a multimillion-dollar investment in academic partnerships in India, has a long-term commitment to the country.
There appears to be no doubt that TERI graduates would create a tremendous foot print in India as well as abroad.
25 December 2009

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