HYDERABAD: While the University of Hyderabad (UoH) is known across the country for its excellent academic facilities, faculty and infrastructure, it was particularly surprising, yet strangely satisfying, for the team at the Centre for Advanced Studies in Electronics Science and Technology (CASEST) of the School of Physics at UoH when it received the Technovation Award 2024 for ‘Best Skilling Entity’ by the India Electronics Semiconductor Association (IESA), the country’s premier industry body for Electronics Semiconductor Design and Manufacturing, in January.
The award recognised the hands-on training imparted to students of the MTech (Integrated Circuits Technology) and MTech (Microelectronics and Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) Design) programmes.
“When you think of the University of Hyderabad (UoH), you think of science courses, humanities or liberal arts etc. No one thinks of a technical course like this,” Professor Ghanashyam Krishna, head of CASEST, told TNIE.
Stating that CASEST was the first in the university to have a ‘clean room’ fabrication facility. The students are trained in Class 1000 (particle count in the air not exceeding a total of 1,000 particles per cubic foot of a size 0.5 micron and larger) and Class 100 (particle count not exceeding a total of 100 particles per cubic foot of a size 0.5 micron and larger) clean rooms.
According to Prof Krishna, the hands-on training provided to students on different steps of device fabrication is what sets the programmes apart even after 20 years.
Another faculty member, Prof Samrat L Sabat adds, “While most institutions focus on design and simulation, we also focus on fabrication and testing.”
The faculty members also point out that their MTech curriculum is in alignment with the India Semiconductor Mission. In 2023, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology awarded the Chip2Startup project to CASEST and free access to centralised Electronic Design Automation (EDA) tools and development boards.
In addition to the two MTech programmes, CASEST also offers a PhD in Electronics Science and Engineering. The main research areas are microelectronics, sensors, memory devices, VLSI design (analogue and digital), and microwave materials and devices, among others.
Admission to the MTech programmes is determined through GATE scores. As per Prof Krishna, the acceptance ratio is around 1:10.
The faculty believes that MTech in Electronics is losing its popularity as students are receiving hefty paychecks after a BTech in Electronics itself.
“It is a phenomenon all over the country. The incentive to pursue MTech is no longer there,” says Professor Nageswara Rao, who is the professor-in-charge of the Centre of Nanotechnology.
Prof Krishna opines that the government should step in to resolve this. He says, “The fellowship for MTech should be made competitive with the industry’s pay package.”