MIT’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (EECS) recently welcomed a $ 7 million donation from the Shiv Nadar Foundation.
“Shiv Nadar and Roshni Nadar Malhotra share our commitment to excellence in education and entrepreneurship, and the gifts we celebrate today are extraordinary examples of that commitment,” said MIT President L Rafael Reif, at a Zoom Celebration Reunion on November 3. , attended by Nadar, Malhotra and top MIT executives to celebrate the gift of the Shiv Nadar Foundation to MIT.
The donation will support two causes dear to the hearts of donors: women’s education and quality research opportunities for undergraduates. Of the donation, $ 4 million will establish the Vamasundari Devi Fellowship Fund, which honors Nadar’s late mother (Malhotra’s grandmother) by offering a scholarship to graduate students of MIT, with a preference for supporting the women. The remaining $ 3 million will support SuperUROP students engaged in practical research, through the Shiv Nadar Undergraduate Research Fund.
“The Vamasundari Devi Fellowship Fund begins a wonderful legacy that will provide invaluable support to talented women scientists and engineers,” said Reif, “and the Shiv Nadar Undergraduate Research Fund will allow us to strengthen one of the most important features. essentials of teaching at MIT: opportunities for students to partner with faculty on important research projects.
“This gift is so important to the whole EECS department,” added department head Asu Ozdaglar, MathWorks professor of electrical engineering and computer science. “This aligns with and affirms our highest ministerial priority: supporting our students. I believe with all my heart that the impact will be felt for generations to come, from Cambridge to Chennai. ”
Anantha Chandrakasan, dean of the School of Engineering and also Vannevar Bush professor of electrical engineering and computer science, agrees. Speaking to both Nadar and Malhotra, he said: “On behalf of the MIT School of Engineering, we are privileged to recognize your tremendous commitment as a powerful tool for social and individual change.
Nadar, founder of the HCL Group, has given nearly $ 1 billion in total to philanthropic causes through the Shiv Nadar Foundation, with a focus on transformative education to foster social change. In addition to this latest donation to the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Nadar supported efforts to establish early intervention and enrichment programs (such as the SHIKSHA Initiative, a literacy program based on technology); K-12 schools (three-site Shiv Nadar school); STEM-focused colleges (SSN Institutions, the Chennai-based higher education institution that Nadar founded and named in honor of his father, Sri Sivasubramaniya Nadar); multidisciplinary philanthropic research institutions (Shiv Nadar University Delhi-NCR and Shiv Nadar University Chennai); and artistic organizations (Kiran Nadar Museum of Art). Nadar has also served on the boards of several business and technical schools and has advocated for building relationships between higher education institutions in India and their overseas counterparts.
For her part, Malhotra has become a leading figure in the world of tech and philanthropy. She succeeded her father as the head of HCL Technologies Limited in 2020, becoming the first female chairman of a listed Indian information technology company. A passionate conservationist, Malhotra is also the founder of The Habitats Trust, a coalition supporting work to support lesser-known endangered species and habitats, and is a director of the Shiv Nadar Foundation. Additionally, she is the President of VidyaGyan Leadership Academy, a pair of free schools in rural Uttar Pradesh focused on identifying and training gifted students from rural India into leaders of tomorrow.
Nadar and Malhotra both point to the influence of Shiv’s mother, Vamasundari Devi, in their development as philanthropists. “He was a great person, extremely focused, progressive and extremely inspiring,” said Nadar. “Her efforts have brought me to what I am today and brought Roshni to what she is today.”
Nadar also described how Devi’s influence was crucial in his development as a philanthropist, noting that after his early successes with HCL gave him time to think about what causes he might support, it was Devi who reminded Nadar that he had been supported by a merit scholarship. during his own upbringing, and suggested that he pay the gift forward.
When, many years later, Nadar met President Reif, the philanthropist and head of the Institute discovered that they shared a common vision of broad and inclusive education. “It was clear that we were in agreement on many issues of vital importance to MIT,” Reif recalled at last month’s event. One of those issues, he noted, was the persistent gender gap in STEM, particularly in computer science and electrical engineering, where women only earn about three in ten graduate degrees. The Nadar gift fits perfectly with the commitment of the MIT Department of EECS to improve gender representation in the field, a commitment recently commemorated with the launch of Thriving Stars, a comprehensive program designed to foster the success of women in the field. EECS, from application to graduation and beyond. through increased support from scholarships, information and coaching sessions, and a wide variety of internship and career networking opportunities.
The celebration included thought-provoking research presentations from several current MIT students working on topics as diverse as image noise reduction, better video conferencing, and advance warning of declining mental health. “We [at Shiv Nadar University] also started undergraduate research, which is quite unique for a university in India, ”explained Malhotra. “By supporting the program that already exists at MIT, for us as a foundation and as a young university… this is a great opportunity for knowledge sharing and exchange. “