On January 4, 2019, Dr. Balamurugan S., Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering (EEE), School of Engineering, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Coimbatore campus, has been awarded ‘National Innovative Teacher Award' by the Honourable Minister of HRD, Shri. Prakash Javadekar, at a national awards ceremony conducted in New Delhi. The award included Rs. 75,000 cash prize and a silver medal with citation. Presently, Dr. Balamurugan also serves as the Institution Innovation Council (IIC) at Amrita, initiated by MHRD Innovation Cell and AICTE. 

The coveted prize came to Dr. Balamurugan in recognition of his distinguished accomplishment, the path-breaking pedagogical initiative of “Laboratory Model-Based Teaching of Power Systems”. While Power Systems is normally taught using simulation software, Dr. Balamurugan’s innovative technique used real, scaled-down models to teach the concepts of power systems in the laboratory. The solar-powered, scaled-down electrical distribution system now sits at the Coimbatore campus. 

The ‘National Innovative Teacher’ award is an initiative of the Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya National Mission on Teachers and Teaching (PMMMNMTT) to recognize and motivate teachers who put their own academic innovations into practice. The National Mission not only identify and rewards such initiatives, but also explores the possibility of adopting them widely in the interest of teaching and learning in higher education. 

The selection process is coordinated by Administrative Staff College of India, Hyderabad along with the Central Ministry of HRD and the applications are collected from the teachers of higher education of all public and private Universities and NAAC ranked colleges. The fact that only seven faculty members in the entire nation have been selected from across various disciplines shows the intensity of the rigorous selection process which consists of three stages.

In Stage I, the Selection Committee consisting of four senior professors including a former vice chancellor, representing science, engineering, social sciences and management disciplines, shortlists 54 names from the applications received from across the country. 

At Stage II, the selected nominees are separately contacted and requested for detailed information on their teaching innovation under specific heads such as, The Concept, Practice of Innovation, Scalability, Material Requirement, Student Feedback; Challenges Faced in the Practice; Learning Outcomes; Improvements Recognized as due and Overall Appeal.

Based on the details furnished by applicants, 15 names are further filtered to enter stage III. The selected 15 nominees from across the country and various affiliations are then allowed to make presentations of their teaching novelties to an expert committee consisting of a former NIT Professor, Pro-VC of a central university, an officer of NAAC and the Director of National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA). An IAS official of the MHRD also joins the panel to validate the selection process. From the 15 nominees, seven teachers emerge as winners.

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