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IBM Aims to Counter Researcher Shortage in India

IBM India Research Laboratory (IRL) unveiled Thursday its Blue Scholar Program, which aims to encourage computer science graduates in India to take up research as a career. The move follows shortages of researchers in India, as engineering graduates pursue other lucrative careers.

IBM plans to train as researchers exceptionally talented engineering graduates and postgraduate students in computer science from leading technical institutions in India.

The objective of the program is to expose these graduates to a challenging research environment, in the expectation that some of them will pursue a deep, research-oriented career in computer science, said Manish Gupta, associate director of IRL. "We expect that they will develop a passion for research, and hope that some of them may even go for a PhD program," he added.

The students will intern with IRL for two years, and at the end of this period may have the option of working at a regular job at IRL, Gupta said. The number of interns each year will depend on the quality of people IBM gets for the program, Gupta said.

The IRL currently hires students with master's degrees for software engineering positions and with doctorates for research work.

Finding researchers in India has become tough as most engineering graduates in information technology, instead of going for higher studies like doctorate programs, take up jobs in India's software outsourcing industry, or even in other industries like financial services as the salaries are higher, Gupta said.

"We are concerned that India is not producing enough PhDs in computer science and related areas", Gupta said.

Gupta said IRL wants students to look at the bigger picture rather than focusing on earning more money, though he added that stipends and salaries offered by IRL will also be competitive.

India produces 150,000 graduates a year in the areas of computer science, information technology, electrical engineering and related areas, said Vidya Natampally, director of strategy at Microsoft Research India. In contrast, only about 50 students earn doctorates in the area of computer science each year.

To encourage graduates to take up careers in research, Microsoft Research India also introduced various programs, including a two-years assistant researcher program for engineering graduates to do research work at the Microsoft lab, Natampally said.

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