IIITH combats COVID-19

The COVID pandemic sweeping the country made significant impact on the IIITH community, naturally. We started to watch the situation early and took decisions at the earliest possible time. Health advisories were sent to the community starting early in March.

The R&D Showcase  scheduled for 7 – 8 March was postponed and traditional Holi  festivities were cancelled before 5 March itself. We also relaxed attendance requirements so as to not force students who were not feeling well into the class. As things got worse, the institute requested all non-research students (UG/PG) to return to their homes in 4 days. The institute also asked the remaining students to go home a week later, if there was

a safe way to do so. When the dust settled, about 75 research students are left on campus. The residential quarters house over 100 community members. The hostel mess is functioning in a minimal mode for the students. Several mess workers live on the campus anyway. Messes are functioning smoothly under the stewardship, with several students chipping in too in this emergency situation. The campus is locked down with very little movement to or from the outside into its gates. It is very strange to see a campus teeming with youngsters so deserted!

In the meantime, online classes started on 23 March. The first week went exceptionally well, thanks to the excellent support provided by the technical team of faculty and IT people. We had conducted two rehearsals during the week of 16 March. It is satisfying to know over 90% of the classes were conducted in Week 1, some as large as 250+ students! Even more interestingly, the average attendance in these classes was 82%. We expect to conclude the Spring 2020 semester in the online mode mostly.

These are trying times, but bring the strength of the community to  the front. I deeply appreciate the untiring efforts of the institute’s faculty, staff, and others in helping us tide over these difficulties. Our students are most understanding and cooperative, which makes it totally rewarding to go the extra mile on everything!

Prof P. J. Narayanan is International Institute of Information Technology Hyderabad’s Director since 2013. He is known for his work in computer vision (3D reconstruction, structure-from-motion, computational displays), computer graphics (ray-tracing of implicit surfaces, dynamic scenes), and parallel computing on the GPU (graph algorithms, string sorting, ML techniques like graph cuts, ANN and clustering, as well as several computer vision tasks).