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Against that backdrop, we started a for-profit, private com-pany to train engineers in India. At the time, Susan Hock-field was the President of Massachusetts Institute of Tech-nology (MIT). MIT had also taken a leadership role in theOpen Course Ware (OCW) movement, systematically put-ting every lecture by the institute’s faculty online, freelyaccessible from anywhere in the world. We convinced Dr.Hockfield to take equity in the company on behalf of MIT,and let us do the project under the MIT India brand, exten-sively leveraging OCW content. We could, however, onlygrant certificates, not MIT degrees.When we launched MIT India in 2010, we were handsomelyfinanced by contracts from Intel, Infosys, Cadence, Auto-desk, Tata Motors and IBM, and hardly raised any outsidefinancing until much later, when we were ready to scale. Inaddition, companies like Cadence and Autodesk donatedCAD tools which our engineering students could learn with.Our model was simple. We worked directly with majorcorporations interested in hiring trained engineers. Ourcustomers, thus, were the companies, not the students orparents.To the youth of India, however, we brought a differentvalue proposition. We carefully recruited a set of high po-tential students with High School Education only, but whowere not going onto great colleges or universities. Thesestudents, upon acceptance into the MIT India program,were already guaranteed a job at the sponsor company forwhich we were training them. They participated in a rigor-ous curriculum focused on the engineering discipline of thesponsor’s choice. For example, Tata Motors, had us trainMechanical Engineers, while Intel had us train chip design-ers.We had 6 centers in our first year of 500 students each,aligned with one of our sponsors. They were geographicallydispersed, and most certainly not in Bangalore, which wasalready bursting in its seams. IBM’s center was in Kolkata,Tata Motors’ was in Thane, Cadence and Autodesk were inKanpur, Infosys in Indore, and Intel in Kharagpur.We solved the faculty issue by recruiting a group of tal-ented engineers who were passionate about teaching,and offered them market salary that they would normallyget working for MNCs. And our faculty followed MIT sylla-bus, OCW content, problem sets, exams, etc. As batchesof students finished our 2-year intensive program, werenewed our contracts with the sponsors, recruited newsponsors, and opened up new centers all over India.These contracts were extremely lucrative for us, and al-lowed us to finance great infrastructure, afford and at-tract faculty, and address the engineering education crisisthat India would have otherwise faced, had we tried towork within the government-approved channels.We made a few key strategic choices that made it possiblefor us to build the $6 Billion a year company that we havetoday with 1200 MIT India centers, each teaching 2batches of 500 students. Each year, we train a total of 600,000 engineers.First, we framed the engineering education problem as aproblem of the Corporations who need to recruit talentand asked that they pay for a quality solution. They did.Second, we did not allow compensation to be a deterrentfor hiring talented faculty. We paid them handsomely,such that they did not feel they were making a careersacrifice by teaching. This enabled those with passion forteaching to choose an academic career.Third, we chose to do this under the MIT brand umbrella,gaining instant credibility among the sponsors, the facultyand the students.With that, we created one of the most powerful engineer-ing workforces in the world.
Vision India 2020: MIT India
Thoughts lead on to purposes; purposes go forth in action; actions form habits; habits decide character; and characterfixes our destiny - Tyron Edwards
THE ENTREPRENEURPage 2
The author is a well known Silicon Valley entrepreneurwho has founded 3 companies, is a strategy consultant forover 70 companies, including SAP and Cadence amongothers, and the content from her popular strategy blog atwww.sramanamitra.com is syndicated by Yahoo! Finance,Indian Daily, etc. She also writes a weekly column forForbes.