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IBM aims to counter researcher shortage in India

By John Ribeiro
November 6, 2008 12:00 PM ET

IDG News Service - IBM India Research Laboratory (IRL) unveiled Thursday its Blue Scholar Program, which aims to encourage computer science graduates in India to take up research as a career. The move is in response to shortages of researchers in India as engineering graduates pursue other lucrative careers.

IBM plans to train as researchers exceptionally talented engineering graduates and postgraduate students in computer science from leading technical institutions in India.

The objective of the program is to expose these graduates to a challenging research environment, in the expectation that some of them will pursue a deep, research-oriented career in computer science, said Manish Gupta, associate director of IRL. "We expect that they will develop a passion for research, and hope that some of them may even go for a Ph.D. program," he added.

The students will intern with IRL for two years, and at the end of this period, they may have the option of working at a regular job at IRL, Gupta said. The number of interns each year will depend on the quality of people IBM gets for the program, Gupta said.

The IRL currently hires students with master's degrees for software engineering positions and with doctorates for research work.

Finding researchers in India has become tough, as most engineering students graduate in information technology instead of going for higher studies like doctorate programs. They then take up jobs in India's software outsourcing industry or even in industries like financial services because the salaries are higher, Gupta said.

"We are concerned that India is not producing enough Ph.D.s in computer science and related areas", Gupta said.

Gupta said IRL wants students to look at the bigger picture rather than focusing on earning more money, though he added that stipends and salaries offered by IRL will also be competitive.

India produces 150,000 graduates a year in computer science, information technology, electrical engineering and related areas, said Vidya Natampally, director of strategy at Microsoft Research India. In contrast, only about 50 students earn doctorates in the area of computer science each year.

To encourage graduates to take up careers in research, Microsoft Research India also introduced various programs, including a two-year assistant researcher program for engineering graduates to do research work at the Microsoft lab, Natampally said.

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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