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India school gets MIT Web help

A new project will send six MIT students to an Indian high school this summer to connect the school to the Internet and teach students how to develop a Web site.

Founded last September by Ameet Ranadive and Vinay Pulim (both graduate students in electrical engineering and computer science) and Professor Kenneth Keniston of the Program in Science, Technology, and Society (STS), Project India Connect has three goals:

  • To advance computer-related education in India with a focus on the Internet. To establish a long-term exchange program between MIT and India. To promote cultural understanding between American and Indian youth.

This summer, four MIT undergraduates and two graduate students will travel to the state of Maharastra in India. Over a six-week period, they will establish an Internet server at an Indian high school and educate students about computers, the Internet and HTML programming.

The students will spend their six weeks in Pune, a city of 3 million people approximately 60 miles south of Mumbai (once known as Bombay). Due to the numerous universities and automotive industries in Pune, it is referred to as both the "Oxford of India" and the "Detroit of India." The MIT students will be working in the Dr. Kalmadi Shamarao School, which enrolls children up through high school. Ever since a new computer facility was created in 1991, the school has made computer education a mandatory subject for all students from grades 5-10.

The project (formerly known as the MIT India Technology Education Program) is made possible by support both from India and the United States. In India, Rahul Rathi, a young entrepreneur in Pune, has made a major commitment of time and energy to the project and acts as its local coordinator. Support from MIT alumni/ae in Pune and Mumbai has been combined with support from the Mustard Seed Foundation of Cambridge to make the program possible.

Providing oversight is an MIT steering committee consisting of Professors Keniston, the Andrew Mellon Professor of Human Development; Michael Fischer, director of STS; and Myron Weiner, former head of the Department of Political Science and former director for the Center for International Studies.

This summer's Project India Connect in Pune is designed as a pilot for future summer programs of this kind, and in the long run, for a larger MIT-India Program.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 8, 1998.

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