Preeti Aghalayam becomes first woman director of IIT


IIT Madras’ Zanzibar campus, which is the first offshore campus of the Indian Institute of Technology, has also become the first-ever IIT to have a woman director.  

Preeti Aghalayam, an IIT Madras alumni, has been appointed as the director-in-charge of the Zanzibar campus, where the first academic session is set to begin in October.  

“Aghalayam is the first woman to be an IIT director. We will see many more encouraging things. We are following sustainable development goals and one of the important goals suggests that we need to bring in gender balance,” IIT Madras director V Kamakoti said at a press conference.  

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras has become the first IIT in the country to launch an international campus, which is coming up in Tanzania’s Zanzibar. An MoU was recently signed between India and Tanzania, the final procedural step that paves the way for this campus.   

Applications for the first academic session are already open with the institute offering two full-time academic programs.  

“I am an alumnus of IIT Madras and doing something of this magnitude for the institute and for the country is such a big honor. Every time we visited Zanzibar as part of the IIT Madras contingent, we noticed that the representation of women on their side is quite significant. So, it was important that we do this mindfully,” Aghalayam said.  

Aghalayam completed her BTech in Chemical Engineering from IIT Madras in 1995 and her PhD from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2000. She has worked as a postdoctoral researcher at MIT, Cambridge and faculty at IIT Bombay. Aghalayam joined IIT Madras in 2010, where she is currently a Professor in the Chemical Engineering department. She was recently acknowledged as one of the 75 Women in STEM by the Principal Scientific Advisor’s office.