IISc Awards for Excellence in Teaching 2023

On Teachers Day (5 September 2023), several faculty members received the IISc Awards for Excellence in Teaching 2023, for their contributions to promoting a deeper and engaging learning experience for students.

Durga Prasad Hari (Assistant Professor, Department of Organic Chemistry)
Pratikash Panda (Assistant Professor, Department of Aerospace Engineering)
Vishwesha Guttal (Associate Professor, Centre for Ecological Sciences)
Sushobhan Avasthi (Associate Professor, Centre for Nano Science and Engineering)
Ashwini Ratnoo (Associate Professor, Department of Aerospace Engineering)
Sanjiv Sambandan (Professor, Department of Instrumentation and Applied Physics)

At the awards ceremony, a panel discussion was also organised, which included faculty members Arindam Khan (CSA) and Sumilan Banerjee (Physics) – winners of the Priti Shankar Teaching Award – as well as Kuruvilla Varghese (DESE) – one of the winners of the Jaya Jayant Teaching Award along with Chiranjit Mukhopadhyay (MS). The panelists answered questions related to the role of teaching, balancing teaching with research and other responsibilities, effective teaching methods, learnings from the pandemic, and more.

Citations for the 2023 award winners:

Durga Prasad Hari
The courses that Durga Prasad is involved in teaching can be counted among the toughest that are regularly offered. To cite two examples: UC206T Basic Organic Chemistry, a third semester UG course and CD223/OC 234 Organic Synthesis, an important foundational course that has a mix of UG, MSc, Int-PhD and PhD students. Both have a student body with diverse backgrounds. Levels of interest vary, and Durga Prasad has excelled in inspiring the students by his interactive mode of teaching and instilling in them the importance of teamwork by pairing UG with MSc, and Int-PhD with PhD students for their in-class projects.

Pratikash Panda
Pratikash Panda has proved to be an inspiring teacher for both core and elective courses that cater to a large fraction of students who do not necessarily have a background in aerospace engineering. His dedication to teaching is seen from the unanimously strong comments from students who have taken his courses on propulsion. He is also known to allow students to take apart sophisticated instruments under his supervision thereby giving them an unparalleled hands-on experience. He has also made very effective use of video snippets in his lectures to connect to real applications.

Vishwesha Guttal
Vishwesha Guttal has developed two new courses that have been very well received. These are EC 201 – Theoretical and Mathematical Ecology and EC 303 – Stochastic and spatial dynamics in Biology. Both attract students not only from CES, but also from Physics and IMI (the Institute Mathematics Initiative). Vishwesha has now made his course lectures available on YouTube. Apart from this, he has also offered outreach courses through CCE and ICTS and his website hosts much open access content on topics such as population biology, evolutionary dynamics, etc. He has also co-designed a course on Process of Scientific thinking whose popularity led to an invitation to teach students at BSSE. Going beyond all this, Vishwesha is part of a group of colleagues from CES who have reached out to students from disadvantaged backgrounds through an online workshop that was christened ‘Inclusive Ecology’. This led to a SERB funded Karyashala workshop on Quantitative Ecology whose audience was drawn from universities.

Sushobhan Avasthi
Sushobhan Avasthi is leading the unprecedented Lam-IISc initiative for creating industry relevant courses for India Semiconductor Mission. Under the initiative a course module is being designed using Lam Research’s SEMulator3D® software. The pilot program is being run at IISc. The programme will be then scaled up to train 60k engineers across India. This course is an unprecedented joint effort between industry and academia to jointly create industry-relevant course content. In addition, he has created new courses and restructured several existing ones based on student feedback. As examples, NE 203 is a new core course on micro and nanofabrication that fills a felt lacuna in this area. NE 202 is a lab course that complements NE 203 and provides hands-on experience in this area. NE 206 is a brand-new core course on semiconductor devices and NE 314, which is another new course, deals with optoelectronic devices.

Ashwini Ratnoo
Ashwini Ratnoo has focused on teaching core and elective courses in Guidance and Control to students with very diverse backgrounds. Starting from first principles and using illustrative examples to provide insights into key ideas, he has developed a set of excellent assignments to provide rigorous training to students. He has also introduced a variety of UAV applications including path following, target tracking, landing and rendezvous guidance. A mini project gives students a hands-on research experience applying the theoretical concepts learned in the class. Contents of the courses are regularly updated with new guidance applications. He has also taught several courses at CCE and SID and these have been highly valued by participants from NTRO, DRDL and BEL.

Sanjiv Sambandan
Sanjiv Sambandan’s teaching portfolio contains much sought-after courses that are offered with clockwork regularity and which he teaches with exemplary dedication. The course IN 214 Semiconductor devices and circuits has been offered every year for the past decade and is seen to be widely relevant since it caters to students from IAP, Physics, CeNSE, SSCU, Materials Engg, and DESE. As an associate faculty at DESE, Sanjiv designed a new course that has become even more popular – this is E3204 Fundamentals of MOS Analog Integrated Circuits and is subscribed by students from IAP, DESE, EECS, CeNSE, and EE. A noteworthy feature of both courses is their popularity as seen by the large classes in each edition. Retaining student interest in successive years for a long period of time is a feat that Sanjiv has managed with unwavering dedication. He also jointly teaches another very popular course with a large subscription on Sensors and Transducers. His DBT-Cambridge Lectureship gave him an opportunity to teach students at Cambridge for a period of three years, which he accomplished with great sensitivity while managing his other commitments at IAP in parallel. As part of outreach, his NPTEL course on Semiconductor Devices has been very well received by the large audience who registered for it and the same was seen in his VLSI course offered through TalentSprint.