How Samsung's PRISM is helping India's student innovators become Aatmanirbhar

Dipesh Shah of the Samsung R&D Institute Bangalore speaks about PRISM, their latest programme, and how their innovative projects will help India's youngsters become Aatmanirbhar 
Dipesh Shah, MD, Samsung R&D Institute Bangalore
Dipesh Shah, MD, Samsung R&D Institute Bangalore

In the past few years, the way we look at higher education in India has changed for various reasons. Industries seeking skilled students even before they can throw their mortarboard cap in the air has become quite common. As a result, several engineering colleges have started modifying their syllabus as per the requirements of the industry, to ensure that students remain employable. Samsung R&D Institute Bangalore is one such institute, having recently launched their latest programme called PRISM for undergraduate students. Dipesh Shah, MD, Samsung R&D Institute Bangalore, says, "PRISM refers to Preparing and Inspiring Student Minds and our programme is designed to achieve just that. The programme is meant for final-year engineering students, to provide them with hands-on experience while working with our engineers who also act as mentors." 

We speak to Dipesh to know more about their programme and how it can make us an Aatmanirbhar Bharat. Excerpts:

Can you tell us the story behind Samsung's PRISM programme?
Samsung PRISM is a unique industry-academia programme to help the Indian innovation ecosystem grow and build capabilities among students that industry demands today. Our students are very talented and so are the professors and through this programme, we bring to them the right problem statements that they can work on and provide them with good tools and techniques. In addition to this, our engineers mentor them. The programme will eventually build capability among the students and make them industry-ready. There is so much demand for new talent in AI, Machine Learning, IoT and other fields. Samsung PRISM helps the students with the right knowledge and exposure at an early stage and, by working with Samsung engineers, they will become industry-ready.
PM Modi has launched several campaigns and programmes, the most recent being Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan. What is this programme’s role in developing India specific innovations based on strong insights from local consumers?
Under the Samsung PRISM programme, a team of students and professors work on projects in cutting-edge technology areas such as Artificial Intelligence, Vision Tech, Machine Learning, Internet of Things and connected devices, and 5G networks to solve real-world problems. We bring exposure to the latest global technology trends for students through this programme. Some teams have worked on research projects such as intelligent navigation via in-home object recognition or improving video quality in low light conditions. While they might have seen this technology on TV or the internet, our third-year students actually get to work on such projects.

At Samsung, we have an initiative called ‘Make for India’ where our R&D centres work on innovations that are specifically for consumers in India, tailored for India. Some of these student teams have worked on Make for India projects such as handwriting recognition for Indian languages or AI-based Indian language translation. We have seen some good work coming from these student teams. Working on such projects, students get an insight into the kind of skills that are required in R&D set-ups in India and globally. Some of the projects that are well-executed will make it into the products that we ship around the world. Giving them an opportunity to work with Samsung and making them industry-ready will be a step in the right direction towards an Atmanirbhar Bharat.

According to a recent report, the migration of Indian students to other countries has come down from 4 lakh to 30,000. Do you think programmes like PRISM will be able to pull such talent and help them improve their skills before they set out to study again once the pandemic ends?
With our programme, the students and universities are very interested because they get access and exposure to cutting-edge technologies at a very early stage. We have got some positive feedback from them. Samsung PRISM is a programme that wants to discover the real potential of the students in India and our country has a brilliant student crowd. Programmes like this will only give an opportunity to discover and nurture their talent. It is a boost for all the students participating, to contribute towards meaningful innovation evolved from India. We also encourage students to publish papers in reputed international journals and file patents jointly with Samsung R&D Institute Bangalore. This motivates the students as they can have a patent in their name while working on these projects.

Last year, India improved its Global Innovation Index by five ranks, from 57th to 52nd. What are Samsung PRISM's plans in terms of improving this position and enhancing Research and Development?
India’s GII rank was one of the factors behind conceptualising this programme. We feel that India certainly needs to be more prepared to garner a better rank. We are lagging in the index compared to countries like the USA and China even though our country has some of the best minds, a pool of talent that can make it to the top. Through the Samsung PRISM programme, our aim is to bridge the gap between industry and academia and further help the Indian innovation ecosystem grow and build capabilities among students that the industry demands today. Currently, we have signed an MoU with ten engineering colleges and we will add more colleges that are in the top positions as per the NIRF ranking for engineering colleges over the next few months. So far, 150 teams from ten engineering colleges have piloted research and development projects. We aim to work with 50 more colleges by 2022.

How do you shortlist the candidates?
The students are selected through a test conducted by SRI-B. They can request to enrol themselves on our official website and get connected with the mentors through this portal once selected. Under the programme, Samsung R&D Institute Bangalore collaborates with students and faculty at engineering colleges, giving them research as well as development projects to execute in their colleges over a period of four to six months. Each project can consist of two to three students who are guided by one professor from their college and one mentor from SRI-B who closely work with the students on the projects.

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