July 12, 2007

IIT Alumni Conference

This past weekend I spoke at a panel (Topic: Opportunities in Convergence) at the IIT Global Alumni Conference in Santa Clara, CA. Over 3,500 attendees from around the world participated in the event that featured keynotes from the U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton, GE CEO Jeff Immelt and Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin. The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) system includes seven engineering and technology schools of higher education in India. IITs are arguably one of the world's most elite university systems with less than 2% acceptance rate (full disclosure - I'm an alum).

Founded in 1950s, IITs have since graduated a total of around 100,000 engineers. Many have gone on to assume leadership roles in various walks of life (science, engineering, research, academic, business, etc.). The influence of IIT graduates in the U.S. is almost as great as it is in India - 25,000 of IIT's 100,000 graduates live in the U.S. According to Jeff Immelt, GE employs around 1,500 graduates from IIT - 35 of its top 600 employees are IIT grads.

The Mercury News reports:

"(Indians)...have a disproportionate influence in Silicon Valley. Of an estimated 7,300 U.S. tech startups founded by immigrants, 26 percent have Indian founders, CEOs, presidents or head researchers, according to a recent report by Duke University."

By some estimates, a big proportion of these entrepreneurial Indians are IIT grads.

Time magazine's coverage of the conference is here.

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