The first female director of an IIT has been appointed by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras, which has just opened its first foreign campus in Zanzibar.

Now serving as the campus director for the Zanzibar campus is Prof. Preeti Aghalayam, a professor at the IIT Madras Department of chemical engineering. speaks to Prof. Aghalayam about the new experience, her role, scholarships, overcoming a male-dominated society, and more, as the campus is just a few months away from opening.

By Preeti Aghalayam For us, this is a completely uncharted area. The major difficulty has been that we deliberately set a rather ambitious deadline since we wanted to coordinate it with the local academic calendar. This implies that classes at the new site should also start by October.

Image Source :,imgsize-55118,width-400,resizemode-4/101538381.jpg

This timeframe is incredibly tight, especially because there is student selection, faculty deployment, course discussion, and approval with the experts, among other things.

It is incredible, and occasionally I ponder how we can accomplish so many of these things. It is preferable to frame them as opportunities rather than obstacles, starting with the several ministerial discussions, signing the MoU recently, and holding discussions with our counterparts and team in Zanzibar.

There are going to be a tonne of difficulties in the future. Thankfully, Zanzibar is home to our (temporary) campus. Several issues still need to be resolved, including student accommodation, faculty housing, catering facilities, bringing the students here, and making sure that the visa paperwork is completed on schedule for both us and the students. We are regularly meeting with our staff in Zanzibar.

These are only a few specifics; there will undoubtedly be more difficult obstacles, which we are attempting to foresee and prepare for in advance. The administration, our team in Zanzibar, and the IIT Madras team have been collaborating to plan for a successful future for this institution.