MCC to introduce gutter-style classrooms in new innovation park

The MCC-MRF innovation park sponsored by MRF will aim to provide infrastructure and collaborative spaces for students, said the college 
KM Mammen, Principal Wilson and other dignitaries unveil the plaque
KM Mammen, Principal Wilson and other dignitaries unveil the plaque

Madras Christian College inaugurated the MCC-MRF Innovation Park on March 17, becoming the first Liberal Arts and Science College in the country to have its own innovation park. The first phase of the development of the park is being sponsored by corporate giant MRF, with a donation of Rs 26.09 crores. In keeping with the famous gutter culture of the college, where students hang out in the gutters, the new innovation park will include gutter-style classrooms to keep the ambience casual and laid-back. Students will be able to brainstorm together without feeling restricted. 

Explaining the need for an innovation park of this stature, Principal Dr P Wilson said, "The Indian education system doesn't include career planning, which is an integral part of education. This park will provide infrastructure and collaborative spaces for students to brainstorm through ideation processes and help in fostering industry-academia collaboration. Also, most ranking systems like NIRF and NAAC look at whether institutions have innovation hubs and entrepreneurship cells as an integral part of their higher education programmes. The park will be completely student-driven, and faculty will only facilitate the processes."

The proposed park is expected to cover a built-up area of 68,636 sq feet and will be centrally located, right behind the iconic bell tower to make it accessible for all students. The location is a strategic decision to avoid cutting down trees. MCC is known for its lush scrub jungle and its diverse fauna and the biophilic design of the park will ensure that it is connected with the natural surroundings. Explaining the design, which is the USP of the project, Wilson said, "Utmost care will be taken not to cut any trees down, and if necessary, trees will be transplanted. The park will also incorporate eco-friendly facilities like rainwater harvesting, solar power and green spaces for sustenance."

The various sectors it will include are a writer's cafe, design studio or tinkering lab in collaboration with SRM University, Data Analytics Lab, Computational Science Lab, Psychometric Lab, Instrumentation and R and D Lab and an open-air theatre for performing arts, an area where several MCC alumni have excelled in the past. It will also have seminar rooms and a separate section for the Department of Geography and Tourism.

The event was attended by KM Mammen, Chairman of MRF, who is also the Chairman of the MCC Board and Chairman of the MCC Alumni Association; Arun Mammen, Vice Chairman of MRF Ltd and Apoorva IAS, Higher Education Secretary to the Government of Tamil Nadu, all of whom are alumni of the institution. KM Mammen, in his inaugral address said, "Innovation doesn’t come just from giving people incentives, it comes from creating an environment where their ideas can connect and MRF is proud to join hands with MCC to help create such an environment in this esteemed institution.” The other dignitaries included Dr R D Koilpillai, who was instrumental in incubating IIT Hyderabad on behalf of IIT Madras and Prof C Muthamizhchelvan, Interim VC of SRM Institute of Science and Technology, whose respective institutions will be serving as knowledge partners. 

PWC Davidar in his address touched upon the need for the innovation park to focus on Intellectual Property Rights as India is still far behind in this regard. "This innovation park needs to focus on helping convert ideas to patents, and ideas into money. That will be a great contribution," he said. Prof Muthamizhchelvan, in his address suggested that this is an era of knowledge sharing and offering opportunities for students of SRM and MCC to learn at each other's innovation centres will boost their ideas. Both the suggestions were welcomed by the Principal. 

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