On Formative Years
As a result he worked in the Applied Mechanics department. His tenure there saw many unique projects. The AM department was glad to allow him to register for an MS. He recalls meeting one of his professors and giving him the news, to which he replied “you will definitely do your MS in Engineering Mechanics.”
It did happen – he finished his MS in 1980.
After completing his PhD, he went abroad and did post-doctoral work at the department of Naval Arch and Ocean Engineering, TU, Berlin till 1987. By then the German assistance was through and he was made the chairman of the task-force for facilities building. His team was responsible for the introduction of 8-bit Apple systems for data acquisition.
In his early days he served as the assistant warden of Godavari hostel and later in the early 90s he took over as the warden of Mandakini hostel. With the messes attached to the hostels and the students and mess workers having lot of issues, it was a challenging job.
Remembering his days at Godav, he said “There were a lot of cultural changes over these 15 years. During those days student-staff relation was more personal – everybody knew each other, even by name. When I took over as Mandak’s warden, I observed a change – nobody talked to each other. The personal touch was missing. The atmosphere was very charged – never friendly. “
In 1993 he handed over charge to Prof. Krishnaiyah, and went for a brief time to Singapore. He went on 2 years leave, but returned in 9 months for he did not deem it to be worthwhile.
After returning he got engaged in many defense projects. His association with the DRDO goes back to 1972. At that time the Indian Field Gun Mk 2 was being developed to replace a World War era rifle being used by the Army. The manufacturers wanted analysis of a support structure which had developed cracks. Later with support from Dr.Abdul Kalam,
Prof.Idichandy’s team contributed towards building underwater missiles.
In 1994 Prof.Idichandy became the Cultural Advisor. He was associated with 2 Saarangs during this time.
Then in 1998, the director, Professor Natarajan, switched him over to JEE, as the vice chairman; in 1999 he became chairman. 1998 brought a major change for JEE, which until then was conducted in the 60s fashion – without computerization.
Immediately after JEE, he was asked to take over as Chairman, Continuing Education. He remembered it to have been an interesting phase. He, along with Prof. Mangal Sunder, initiated web-based courses. From a humble beginning in a small MSB room, it has now grown into NPTEL.
As Dean Students
After a brief period as the HOD of OE department, he was made Dean Students in 2002.
At that time, parents were unhappy with the state of hostels. With assistance from Prof Ananth,
“There were people with ideas, but no proper way to help them, to discuss the ideas, and to realize them. We then thought about CFI.”
The student representatives made a good plan for the construction of CFI, making the layout with an architect who was doing his PhD here. The 1981 batch gave overwhelming support by gathering 70-80 lacs. The site was identified but the Mechanical Engineering department opposed the selection of the site. Prof. Ananth came to the rescue and the site was finalised. But the project could not be completed. Even in that delicate situation, Prof. Idichandy did not reprimand them.
Views on the Student-Faculty relationship:
On the Curriculum in IIT:
On Shaastra and Saarang:
On the JEE System
It’s a 12th std boy who’s writing the exam, what’s the point in asking him to solve M.Sc. level questions? This way we were purposefully driving them towards coaching institutes.
We weren’t very happy about that, because the purpose wasn’t served.We had also decided to curtail the number of JEE attempts to two. There were people who stayed in coaching institutes for years together, till they succeeded; at that time there were people who were admitted to an undergraduate programme here even at the age of 28. Such was the attraction towards getting into IITs!
He backed up the idea of a branch of study called General Engineering, which wouldn’t specialise in a particular discipline.
Why should every student who get into IIT go through the rigours of high funda mathematics which are required for design and analysis? Many students would be happy to choose such a stream – why should you do a specialised degree in Aeronautical Engineering if you’re intending to do an MBA afterwards?
Regarding congestion and overcrowding
Prof. Idichandy also advocated the need for a satellite campus for IIT Madras. The problem here is that though we have enough land, we can’t use it.The crux lies in the fact that there is an existing rule regarding minimum forest cover that limits construction.
Regarding Eating Facilities in Campus:
He feels that was a very big mistake they had done. The idea behind having three independent contractors was that there should be competition; that there should be a choice of caterers and that they should work to provide better food.
He further delved into the attempts made to improve the situation like the introduction of swipe cards and hence to introduce a differential menu. The idea was that You can eat what you want, and pay then and there. There has been recent complaints about the deterioration of quality in food, services and common hygiene within campus restaurants, leading to many students going outside daily for food, he feels.
Caught In The Act