Indian American entrepreneur and philanthropist, Sunil Wadhwani, has generously endowed ₹110 Crore ($13.25 million) to his alma mater, the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras), for the establishment of the Wadhwani School of Data Science and AI. A distinguished alumnus of IIT Madras and Co-founder of IGATE and Mastech Digital, Wadhwani’s contribution stands out as one of the largest gifts ever made by an alumnus to establish a school at an educational institution in India.
The Wadhwani School of Data Science and AI aspires to achieve global recognition as a leading institution in the field of artificial intelligence. In addition to academic pursuits, the school aims to play a crucial role in advising government entities and policymakers on matters related to Data Science and AI policies. “AI and social impact are close to my heart, and it’s my honour to be contributing to my alma mater,” Wadhwani said, adding, “I see a strong need for a dedicated Data Science and AI school focusing on foundational and applied research in these areas. With the advancements in science and technology, India holds immense potential and can be a world leader in AI and allied sciences. As a proud alumnus, IIT Madras holds a special place in my life, and I am gratified to be associated with them in this manner.”
Highlighting the need for such a school, Prof. V. Kamakoti, Director, of IIT Madras, said, “With the advent of Industry 4.0, wherein AI and Data Science are the main movers, the need for a school for Data Science and AI is critical. IIT Madras has started this highly interdisciplinary school involving faculty from many departments joining hands to work on niche areas, including Responsible AI. ”
Over the years, Wadhwani, through his family foundation, the Wadhwani Impact Trust, has actively supported social welfare, affordable healthcare, and scientific research. This support is channeled through the Wadhwani Institute of Sustainable Healthcare (WISH Foundation) and the Wadhwani Institute of Artificial Intelligence (WIAI), respectively.
The WISH Foundation has had a profound impact on over 30 million lives across eight states in India, providing access to quality healthcare for economically disadvantaged individuals.
Functioning as an independent non-profit institute, WIAI focuses on developing AI-based solutions tailored for underserved communities in developing countries. Sunil Wadhwani’s contributions to the field of artificial intelligence were recognized when he was included in the TIME100 AI list of 2023, acknowledging him as one of the 100 most influential people in Artificial Intelligence globally.
Born in Delhi, Wadhwani earned his B.Tech. Degree in Mechanical Engineering from IIT Madras in 1974. Subsequently, he attained a Master of Science in Industrial Administration from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh in 1976. Recognizing his achievements, IIT Madras bestowed upon Wadhwani the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1999.