Interview with Er. Koneru Satyanarayana, Chancellor at KL Deemed to be University

Koneru Satyanarayana

An exclusive interview with Er. Koneru Satyanarayana, Chancellor at KL Deemed to be University

Er. Koneru Satyanarayana is the President of KL (Koneru Lakshmaiah) Deemed-to-be-University, Vijayawada, Guntur, Andhra Pradesh (established in 1980). Sprawled across a green 100-acre world-class campus, KL Deemed to be University is providing high quality undergrad, postgrad, doctoral and post-doctoral study and research programmes in architecture, fine arts, engineering, law, management, humanities and sciences, pharmacy  to around 20000 students mentored by 1,200 faculty.

An alumnus of BMS College of Engineering, Bengaluru, Satyanarayana began his career in 1977 as an entrepreneur (Coastal Cables Pvt. Ltd, Andhra Pradesh). But his true passion lay in the nurturance and development of KL College of Engineering, which was co-promoted by his father, a successful businessman and philanthropist.

In 1980, when he was appointed managing committee member of the family-run Koneru Lakshmaiah Education Foundation (KLEF) which ran and managed the college, he shifted his prime focus onto educational management.

Twelve years later, he became chairman and since then, over the past four decades as KLEF bloomed into a full-fledged university; Satyanarayana became incrementally involved with education management and digitalizing resources. He also played a critical role in establishing a students’ entrepreneurship cell. In 2009, he became president of KL Deemed-to-be-University.

Can you tell us about your vision and goals for KL Deemed to be University under your leadership as President?

Koneru Satyanarayana: My vision for the University is to make it a world-class institution known for its academic excellence, commitment to diversity, inclusion and impact on society. The University should be a place where all students can thrive, regardless of their background or circumstances. One of our key goals is to strengthen the University’s research and innovation capabilities and position it as a leader in cutting-edge research and development.

It is also essential to ensure that our research has a real impact on the world, addressing some of the most pressing challenges faced by society today. Another goal is to increase the University’s accessibility and affordability, making it within reach of all students and creating a more inclusive campus environment where everyone attains holistic growth.

Finally, we aim to make the University a community where students jointly work to address the challenges faced by communities, societies,  cities and regions. The University is committed to promote and encourage expertise and resources to make the world a better place. Together, we can make a real difference in the lives of our students and the world around us.

KL Deemed to be University has been known for its emphasis on innovation and research. How do you plan to further promote and support research initiatives within the university?

Koneru Satyanarayana: Promoting and supporting research initiatives within the University is vital to our mission. Research is the means by which we push the boundaries of knowledge and make new discoveries, while also preparing our students to be the leaders and innovators of tomorrow.

To further these goals, several strategies are in place. First, there is a commitment to increasing funding for research, with additional resources already allocated to the research budget, and a commitment to continued support in the future.

Another key initiative is to cultivate a more supportive environment for researchers, which includes providing access to cutting-edge equipment and facilities, as well as mentorship and training opportunities. Various Centers of Excellence are exstablished at the campus to enable students and faculty work aggressively in diverse research areas.

Additionally, promoting a collaborative research culture at the University is a priority, encouraging researchers from various disciplines to work together on common problems. To raise the profile of KL Deemed to be University’s research, collaboration with media, industry partners, and government agencies will be pursued to highlight the University’s research accomplishments.

Furthermore, researchers will be encouraged to present their work at conferences and publish their findings in top journals. These measures collectively aim to establish KL Deemed to be University as a leading research institution on the global stage.

What strategies does KL Deemed to be University have in place to ensure the holistic development of its students, both academically and personally?

Koneru Satyanarayana: At KL Deemed to be University, holistic development is at the core of our educational philosophy. Our institution emphasizes a comprehensive approach to ensure our students’ success and readiness for life after graduation. To achieve this, various strategies have been implemented. One pivotal approach involves offering students a diverse range of opportunities beyond the classroom.

This includes access to skill development centers and active student activity clubs encompassing sports, arts, skilling, social service, and professional development. Additionally, we strongly promote internships and study tours to provide students with real-world experience in their respective fields of study.

Another crucial strategy is providing constant academic support, featuring personality development programs, guest lectures by distinguished individuals, and career counseling by industry experts. We further extend our commitment to students through an array of scholarships and financial aid programs to facilitate their educational pursuits.

In our pursuit of holistic development, providing a supportive and inclusive campus environment is paramount. Numerous initiatives are in place to promote diversity and inclusion, including International student committees, Central sports committees, Women development center, SAE Students Chapter, Centre of Innovation, Incubation, and Entrepreneurship (CIIE) Student Chapter, among others.

Moreover, we offer training and workshops on topics such as diversity awareness, unconscious bias, and conflict resolution. Our sustained dedication is to assist our students in achieving both academic and personal growth, recognizing that holistic development is the cornerstone of their success in life.

In today’s rapidly changing educational landscape, how is KL Deemed to be University adapting to the challenges and opportunities presented by technology and online learning?

Koneru Satyanarayana: KL Deemed to be University has always been at the forefront of technological innovation in education, with a steadfast commitment to leverage technology for an enhanced learning experience and to prepare students for success in the 21st-century workforce.

One way to adapt to the challenges and opportunities presented by technology is through investments in new technologies and infrastructure. Classrooms have been upgraded with smart boards and interactive technologies, and a new learning management system has been introduced, providing students with online resources and tools.

Additionally, online and blended learning programs, Fully Flexible Choice Based Credit System, and more have been introduced, with plans for future expansion. Online and blended learning are considered valuable tools for students to learn at their own pace and in their preferred manner.

Efforts are also made towards faculty training in the latest educational technologies, with workshops and faculty development training programs covering topics like online teaching, blended learning, and classroom technology utilization.

The University firmly believes that technology and online learning can revolutionize education and is dedicated to enhancing the learning experience through the use of technology, making education more accessible, affordable, and effective for all.

Artificial intelligence-powered chat bots offer personalized feedback and support; social media facilitates student connectivity with peers, instructors, and alumni while providing access to educational resources and opportunities. The institution continues to explore new ways to harness technology for the benefit of its students.

Could you share some of the university’s initiatives aimed at fostering industry-academia collaboration and ensuring that graduates are job-ready?

Koneru Satyanarayana: In today’s fast-evolving business landscape, adaptation to new technologies and trends is essential for maintaining a competitive edge. One effective strategy involves strengthening partnerships with universities and educational institutions to promote industry-academia collaboration.

This collaborative approach plays a vital role in ensuring that graduates are well-prepared for the job market and possess the skills demanded by businesses. Our association with Celonis exemplifies our commitment to equipping our students for the future of work.

Celonis, a prominent process mining software company, operates in a rapidly growing field. Through the Center of Excellence in Process Mining at Imarticus Learning, our students gain the skills and experience required for success in this dynamic domain.

Furthermore, we place a strong emphasis on hands-on experience, facilitated by our Business Analytical Laboratory, where students have the opportunity to work with real-world business data and analytics tools.

This practical experience is instrumental in helping students develop the skills essential for successful careers. It is advisable for students to concentrate on honing skills that are in high demand and actively seek hands-on experience through internships and projects.

The Univesity also has strategic partnerships with industry giants to establish Industry Collaborated Labs across various departments. In the Computer Science and Engineering department, collaborations with CISCO, IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle have led to labs focusing on Computer Networks and Security, Software Engineering, Knowledge Engineering, Embedded Systems, and more.

In the Electronics Communication Engineering department, the university has partnered with NI LabView to create a dedicated lab for Communications Systems. These collaborations offer students valuable hands-on experience and access to cutting-edge technology in their respective fields.

What steps is KL Deemed to be University taking to promote diversity and inclusion among its students and faculty?

Koneru Satyanarayana: KL Deemed to be University places a strong emphasis on diversity and inclusion, recognizing their pivotal role in promoting excellence in education and research. This commitment extends to establishing a clear vision and mission for diversity and inclusion, alongside the allocation of requisite resources to achieve these objectives.

Integral to this effort is the active involvement of the entire university community, encompassing students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Scholarships and financial aid are provided to students from underrepresented groups and international students, demonstrating our dedication to promoting diversity.

Our diverse and inclusion-focused student committees are entrusted with the development and implementation of initiatives in this regard, while faculty and staff receive training on unconscious bias and inclusive teaching practices.

KL Deemed to be University remains steadfast in its mission to create a welcoming and supportive community for all, with its diversity and inclusion initiatives making a tangible impact on the lives of students and faculty.

KL Deemed to be University places a strong emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation. Can you elaborate on the programs and support structures in place to nurture entrepreneurial spirit among students?

Koneru Satyanarayana: KL Deemed to be University is committed to nurturing entrepreneurial spirit among its students. We have a number of programs and support structures in place to help students develop their entrepreneurial skills and launch their own startups.

KL Technology Incubators Foundation (KLTIF) – TBI provides students with a range of services, including Entrepreneurship education and training, mentorship and coaching from experienced entrepreneurs, Access to funding and resources, Incubation and acceleration support.

The foundation also organizes a number of events and competitions throughout the year to promote entrepreneurship among students. These events include hackathons, pitch competitions, and startup bootcamps. KLTIF extends its assistance to early-stage startups through two distinct programs. The inaugural offering, known as EMERGE, is an 11-month incubation initiative tailored for fledgling enterprises.

Within this program, participants can expect to receive mentorship, access to collaborative workspaces, valuable industry connections, support for intellectual property rights (IPR), and aid with prototype development. The second program is our Pre-Incubation program, specially designed to bolster concepts in their prototype stage.

Within this program, we offer comprehensive guidance, support, and access to resources aimed at aiding entrepreneurs in the refinement of their ideas, prototype development and business model validation. This initiative serves as a crucial stepping stone for aspiring entrepreneurs, preparing them for eventual entry into our fully-fledged incubation program.

KLTIF receives invaluable support from several prominent organizations, each of which plays a pivotal role in fostering and empowering startups. Notable collaborators include the Department of Science and Technology (DST), MEITY STARTUP HUB, DSTT NIDHI, and the HDFC Bank Smartup Parivartan Grant program. KL Deemed to be University is also home to a number of successful startups that have been founded by its students & alumni, and the University is committed to providing them with the support and resources they need to succeed as entrepreneurs.

Our programs and support structures have helped to launch a number of successful startups, and we are excited to see what the future holds for our entrepreneurial students.

How does KL Deemed to be University contribute to the local community and society at large through its social responsibility and outreach programs?

Koneru Satyanarayana: KL Deemed to be University is committed to making a positive impact on the world through its social responsibility and outreach programs. Our programs are focused on improving the lives of people in need and championing social justice.

Central to our mission is the belief in giving back to the community and leaving a lasting imprint on the world. Through our education, healthcare, environmental, and community development initiatives, we have positively transformed the lives of thousands of individuals.

This transformative work has not only uplifted the beneficiaries but has also inspired our students and faculty to actively engage in social service. We take immense pride in our efforts and remain resolute in our dedication to continuing to effect change on a larger societal scale.

Our multifaceted social responsibility and outreach programs encompass a wide array of areas, including organizing free medical health camps and awareness programs within the local community, and providing free educational programs such as computer training and adult literacy programs.

We are committed towards promoting environmental awareness and sustainability, exemplified by extensive tree planting both on our campus and in the surrounding areas, coupled with energy-saving and waste reduction initiatives. Supporting various community development initiatives, including rural development, women’s empowerment, and livelihood development, remains integral to our mission.

We further encourage social service activities through active participation in social responsibility and outreach activities among our students and faculty through a range of dedicated student clubs and organizations.

Our adoption of a nearby village underscores our hands-on approach to improving the villagers’ quality of life, providing access to clean water, sanitation, and education, thereby contributing to the betterment of society as a whole.

What are some of the recent achievements and milestones that KL Deemed to be University has accomplished under your leadership?

Koneru Satyanarayana: Under my leadership, KL Deemed to be University has attained numerous remarkable achievements and milestones. Notable among these is the successful launch of our first satellite, KLSAT, a 1U CubeSat, designed for atmospheric measurement technology in specific areas.

Additionally, eight researchers from our institution have earned recognition among the world’s top 2% scientists by Elsevier, a prestigious global publishing company.  The University has also received an Advanced E-Lead Certification for its institutional potential, and consecutively for second year secured Diamond rating in QS I-GAUGE, with Platinum and Diamond ratings in various categories.

It excelled in various categories, earning 1232 points in the overall ranking, encompassing Faculty Quality, Employability, Facilities, Social Responsibility, Governance & Structure, Teaching & Learning, Diversity & Accessibility, and Arts & Culture.

Furthermore, the University was honored with the title of “Emerging Star of The Year 2022-23” by Cambridge University Press & Assessment and recognized as an “Authorized Centre for Cambridge Assessment.”

In the field of research, the university secured a substantial Research Grant of Rs. 7 Crore through the “Promotion of University Research and Scientific Excellence (PURSE)” program, aimed at enhancing research capacities across Indian universities and strengthening the research ecosystem.

These accomplishments reflect our commitment to providing an exceptional education, impacting the world through research and outreach, and our dedication to excellence and global recognition.

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