Meet the Robot Man of VIT: Here's how Aswani Kumar is computing his teaching path 

VIT University’s Dr. Aswani Kumar believes that his students’ creative ideas, enthusiasm, and curiosity can lead to discoveries that don’t often come to teachers — you just need to look out for them
VIT University’s Dean of IT Dr Aswani Kumar believes in the teachings of Swami Vivekananda and is an ardent follower of his teachings | Pics: Dinesh Kumar
VIT University’s Dean of IT Dr Aswani Kumar believes in the teachings of Swami Vivekananda and is an ardent follower of his teachings | Pics: Dinesh Kumar

Teaching became the vocation of choice for the Dean of School of IT at VIT University, as both his parents were in the profession. Aswani Kumar, who is a senior member of the Association for Computing Machinery, is also associated with professional bodies including the Computer Society of India and Indian Society for Technical Education. He is a reviewer for many reputed international journals and conferences.

We caught up with the professor to chat about his research on Information Security and the future of Artificial Intelligence. Excerpts:
How did you get into teaching?

Genetically, I would say. Many of my family members including my mother and father are in this profession. Naturally, this has kindled the interest and passion for teaching in me. VIT University has provided an opportunity and nurtured my inherent talent. I believe that being a teacher and university professor provides a unique opportunity for lifelong learning and creating new knowledge.

How is your relationship with the students?

I work closely with my students. I always admire these young minds for their creative ideas, enthusiasm, and curiosity to explore new things. For a teacher, these are the driving factors that will encourage us to contribute more. Often, the questions these students pose are in new directions of research, which brew fresh thoughts. Our students always keep abreast with technological trends and are almost always the first to adopt them.

 On the academics and research front, I am fortunate and blessed that I was trained by great teachers and eminent professors

Dr. Aswani Kumar Dean of School of IT,  VIT University

Have you performed any research? What is it about?

My research focusses mainly in two areas: Machine Learning and Information Security. In Machine Learning, I am currently working on developing quantum-inspired cognitive models. My previous research focused on developing fuzzy logic-based mathematical models for data mining. In Security, I work on the privacy-preserving computations of data. My research is funded by the Department of Science of Technology, Government of India.

Who is your inspiration? Is there a teacher who you look up to?

My research talent was nurtured by my guide Dr. S Srinivas, Senior Professor of VIT University and Dr P Radhakrishnan, former Vice-Chancellor of VIT University.

How do you think Artificial Intelligence can transform teaching?

We are looking at some exciting days ahead of us, where Artificial Intelligence is expected to transform both teaching and learning experiences from primary to higher education. AI will help elevate the teaching process into a completely learner-centric process and will meet the need of the industry and society. Currently, a great amount of research is happening in western universities to develop AI-based teaching assistants that can mentor the students to solve assignments and assessments. Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) platforms, like Coursera, are trying to adopt artificial intelligence and data analytics to understand and gain insights from online behaviour patterns of registered users. However, this technology will only complement the existing stakeholders, but will not compensate them.

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