The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) is the pinnacle of high-tech education for Indian teenagers interested in technology careers. High school students must pass rigorous tests before they are even allowed to take the IIT entrance exams, and a mere 2.5 percent of applicants are accepted (compare that with Harvard’s seemingly lenient 11 percent). The school, the subject of a recent 60 Minutes profile, is known for sending young engineers to make their way in the computer labs of Silicon Valley.
So with the school’s stateside supporters celebrating its Golden Jubilee, it wasn’t all that surprising to see Bill Gates serving as the celebrity star at a January event in Cupertino, Calif. The event’s real news for IT professionals, though, was the unveiling of a new School of Information Technology to be built at IIT Delhi (one of the school’s seven campuses).
Vinod Khosla, a Sun Microsystems cofounder who is general partner at venture firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, donated $5 million to the school’s construction, and he has high hopes for what the institution will mean for the future of IT management around the world.
“Management of IT is a complete disaster,” Khosla says. “No matter what you buy, you spend far more owning it than buying it,” whether it’s CRM suites or PC hardware. To that end, he hopes the school will allow IIT students to address basic issues of IT management, implementation, adaptability and complexity. “We must look at doing things completely differently.”
Who knows? India’s legendary engineering school could become a breeding ground for future CIOs.