Prof Dr Sunita Venkat: Pioneering Inclusion Initiatives in Education
Prof Dr Sunita Venkat
Prof Dr Sunita Venkat

Prof Dr Sunita Venkat is an esteemed part of one of India’s most revered educational institutions, MIT ADT University.

She is the Executive-president of one of the world’s most endearing and sustaining educational institutions that have, over time, established a name for itself in providing quality, contemporary and future-ready education over a varied canvas of subjects and streams. The MIT ADT University is part of the MIT Group of Institutions. While the latter established its campus in Rajbaug in Loni Kalbhor in the suburbs of Pune in 2004, MIT-ADT University, a distinct university in the private domain, came about in June 2016 under the provisions of the MIT Art, Design and Technology University Act, 2015.

Located on a much-awarded campus spanning over 100 acres, the institution provides a plethora of Undergraduate, Post-graduate and Doctoral degrees in Art, Design and Technology through industry-focused programs with more than 11000 students registered under various Faculty streams.

About an Ardent Leader

Prof Sunita is a Computer Science Graduate of the year 1992, and PICT, Pune, post graduate, she was part of the 2nd  batches of students to have attained the distinction of passing out in a subject recently introduced in India that would, in years ahead, bring revolutionary changes for industry in the form of ideas like industry 4.0 and various disruptive technologies like AI/ML / Blockchain / Cyber Security / / IoT to name some. Looking back, she surmises that it is almost a 3-decade journey that witnessed revolutionary changes in the world of communication and information technology that brought tremendous growth to Tier I cities including Pune in terms of its outlook towards industry and enterprise. The change has been distinct and visible from small IT offices that people started in their homes to over ten mega IT parks that house employees numbering in lacs.

Originally from Shambhajinagar (erstwhile Aurangabad), her earliest remembrance of the field was her shift to Pune when well-wishers recommended that she move to more urban places like Pune or Mumbai, for better opportunities where specialized places, including the SEEPZ in Mumbai, had companies recruiting in big numbers for an industry that was starting out, and wanted trained and qualified hands. The next big move came about when a friend suggested a project engineering opportunity in the IIT Bombay’s Aerospace engineering department that had her recruited by the renowned Professor Dr. Ukadgaonkar in the Department of small aerospace engineering projects.

Overcoming Challenges

Qualifications and positions aside, she remembers most vividly the struggle they went through at MIT (and eventually triumphed!) in those times when the field was very new and bereft of authoritative figures, including teachers, professors and those who could guide them to their destination. Despite this, she, and her team at the CSE department persisted, learnt continuously, and transformed themselves into the best of the best institutes in the field of IT. It has today turned into one of the best in the field of digital transformations and communication across industries and genres.

Today, she is an acknowledged leader in the field, given her presence therein from a very early stage when it was in its infancy. Carrying the practice from then, she still insists that students visit the origination, be it another educational institution or an industrial organization, to understand the purpose and get the necessary ideas in place and only then make available resources to students, be it systems, labs, reading material or teachers to enhance their skills to a substantial level making them an asset to the industry. In all this, she says, teachers play a significant role that has been greatly enhanced since 1995 when the internet came to India in a fruitful form. It saw further improvement from the year 2000 when mobile was made available in India in a big way.

She attributes her personal contribution to the introduction of trending cutting-edge technology solutions and initiatives, continuous learning by the institute, and upgrading their syllabus as per industry needs. Doing these has kept them at the head of the race and made them pioneers in teaching at the university level with new specializations in Electrical Vehicle Technology, Port and Shipping Management, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Cloud Computing, Blockchain Technology, and many, many more.

Besides introducing cutting-edge technology to further the Indian industry, the most significant contribution of MIT as an institution has been cutting down gender-specific identities. Their Gender Diversity initiatives are part of the university at all levels, be it students’ entry, recruiting teaching or non-teaching staff, or appointing technical personnel. Equal opportunity is given to everyone at the time of selection, as also throughout their work and stay at MIT. Besides, gender sensitivity programs against sexual harassment and sexual abuse are regular in the university. The same goes for information on girls’ students’ rights and necessary actions taken to secure their interests. Dr Sunita is the one who has installed the women entrepreneur award at the university level.

A Glimpse of the Future

Promotion of Quality higher education is her motto to train the manpower to achieve the said objective is the vision for what she is taking hard leadership. On the contrary, she recognizes the challenges arising in India, a vast country where the right actions need to be taken at the right time and all the way to the grassroots level.

While acknowledging that they have a long way to go to see women’s presence in employment in decisive roles, she is glad to note that a few iconic women have created iconic leadership roles in India though the need is to take it right down to the grassroots to make a difference. In particular, she is happy to note that some of her work has made society safer for women, though she says that the work is not over and that they need to go a long way.

Her role in the days to come in her present capacity as the Director would be to lead from the front for the welfare of society with more innovative practices in sustainability and societal change that would make India ready for the challenges of the future. Her firm decision made a group to start with a private state university campus in 2017 at Kothrud and various other places. Through AIC cell she has launched startup and innovation awards for young entrepreneurs which are given to ladies.

Her words of wisdom for everyone are that the world is fast moving towards globalization, for which we need to accept the challenges, of which the most important is to promote a women-centric society with equal opportunities for talent and capability and a safe and secure environment for women, in particular.

It is us, women, she says, who must come together for equal rights, a humanitarian cause, and the welfare of society.

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