Sathyabama Institute of Science and Technology

On first look, it is just like any other educational institution, spread across 134 acres with lush green fields and white painted buildings reminiscent of the bygone. Inside, there is a lot of activity in this university which focuses on science and technology and also teaches engineering, arts and science, dentistry, law, architecture and management. It is one of the old universities that has been around for three decades.
Founded in 1987 by Dr. Jeppiaar, as a Christian minority institution, Sathyabama University started as Sathyabama Engineering College in Chennai's Rajiv Gandhi Salai. It received a Deemed University status in July 2001 and became Sathyabama University. Today it has 40 Undergraduate and 18 Post Graduate and Doctoral programmes in which 3400 students are enrolled each year.
With excellent infrastructure facilities including modern laboratories, library with multimedia facilities, internet and other general amenities, Sathyabama University is today one of the best equipped universities to impart education in the area.

Towards Community's Hygiene: Girls making sanitary pads at an in house unit.

But apart from education, one of the major visions of the university is to serve the community at large. As such, with support from the management, the university has been strengthening its developmental activities in bearing fruits of research for betterment of the society. With a motto of “Together for a better tomorrow,” the university believes in imbibing community values among students with the mantra “Joy of living is in joy of giving”.
The university goes out of its way in community development and fulfils its corporate social responsibility (CSR) by allocating 1 per cent of the University budget towards CSR which it has been doing for the last almost two decades having been involved in CSR activities for the last 18 years. The university has several programmes for women, young girls and children with an aim to make them employable and impart in them skills that will hold them good in the future.

There is a steady stream of resettled people from the nearby areas of Cooum and Adyar who need livelihood as they were deprived of their work mainly due to natural calamities. Some of the programmes undertaken by the university are targeted with women in mind which includes the beauty business and making of household and women-centric products.
As the beauty business is a big draw among all urban and rural people, this is one of the areas that the University focuses to train women for. For this, it has tie-ups with large beauty salons in thearea including Green Trends, Naturals, Anoushka and Tony and Guy. Here women are trained by experts for this vocation in a 45-day course which is decided by the Sathyabama University.

Women being trained at Women Empowerment Bureau of Sathyabhama

Access to sanitation and clean drinking water

There is even a Women Empowerment Bureau which works for the students and staff and conducts outreach programmes for the communities. During the 45-day course, three-day workshops are also held to give the women hands-on training.For this, the University works with several NGOs to bring in specific skills to the people and also works with MSME industry. It also works on Entrepreneurship Development Programmes to develop entrepreneurship among the women and men of the area. The University also has an outreach programme for marginalized women in the area and has several programmes for their upliftment and livelihood.
For men there are programmes too. The university gives training to men from the neighbouring areas in carpentry and in electrical works which are in demand in the city.

There are also basic computer courses for Class 10 students from nearby villages.To extend the community work beyond the university campus, Sathyabama University has adopted 10 villages in Kancipuram district. The university trains villagers in organic farming and provides organic fertilizers which is developed and patented in the University. For keeping developments closer to the ground,the university promotes indigenous practices in all its activities.
All training and materials and manure are provided free of cost by the university. In addition, it also provides transportation and food free of cost to the women and all who are trained in the campus. As a special activity, the university has extended the same courses to acid victims in the state and provide them all facilities and train them for livelihood.

In the centre of the sprawling campus is a modern bakery which is central to the University’s CSR activities. The fully equipped bakery has been imparting training on baking to women from nearby villages for the last 7 years starting in 2012. Till December 2018, about 650 women have been trained in baking skills and in making cakes, muffins, savories and other confectionary products. The products from the bakery are served to students in the university’s various canteens.
The university has employed qualified bakers from across the city to teach the women to become self-sufficient and attain economic freedom thereby extending a helping hand in making women in the community employable. The university also has tie-ups with prominent bakeries across the city from which they routinely get experts to train the village women.

The university’s efforts in training the women actually goes beyond just training them in baking skills. The university even assists the women in getting employment in bakeries in the city and beyond. Today women trained in the Sathyabama bakery are employed at prominent bakeries across Chennai, including Cakes and Bakes, French loaf, CK Bakery, McRennett etc. to name a few. Some enterprising students from the bakery have even gone on their own and started their own bakery ventures turning a new leaf in entrepreneurship.At a little distance from the bakery unit is a unit that trains young girls in making sanitary pads. The unit trains girls to produce these pads from scratch as a means of livelihood and also develop entrepreneurship among the girls. The pads produced in the unit are distributed among villages, schools and police women. The unit produces 250 bags of pads every month. More than 300 women have been trained in the sanitary pad making unit. The women who have been trained here are selfemployed as they use their skills and earn either as individuals or form teams of two or more members and collectively invest in their business usually promoted from their homes.
Training on tailoring is being conducted from 2014 and about 250 women are trained. An independent unit in the campus trains women and girls in stitching and tailoring under the watchful eyes of some senior experts. About six women who have been trained in the tailoring unit have been employed as tailors at the university. Many others have gone to the city and joined tailoring units or set up their own thing.

Girls at the skill development and training centre

The university has adopted six villages and 14 schools associated to these villages. The people trained are usually residents of the adopted villages. Also the women from resettled communities which were evacuated from the banks of Adyar and Cooum since the 2015 floods in Chennai are also beneficiaries of the university’s programmes. Skill development programmes are conducted as a source of alternative income generation to these women.
The university is also actively involved in technology transfer to the society apart from imparting skills training. Innovative technology developed at the various research and development centres at the University are being transferred to the rural women for promotion of their livelihood. Seaweed culture, mushroom cultivation, ornamental fish culture are some of the activities successfully imparted to more than 1000 rural women in coastal villages by the university.

Apart from promoting education among local communities by providing educational aides, computers and science laboratories, the university also undertakes activities to spread awareness on health and hygiene, gender sensitization, vocational training for school dropouts and teachers’ training programmes every year with an aim to eradicate illiteracy amongst rural communities.

Mushrooming success: The indoor mushroom culture unit at the University.

Inspiring communities to lead healthier lives

Scholarships are also provided to underprivileged meritorious students and also students who excel in sports for their higher education.
The University provides sponsorships to more than 400 students including persons with disabilities, children of war widows, tsunami victims, and acid attack victims. These sponsorships are initiated to improve and promote access to good quality of higher education. And this free of cost.
At present the Sathyabama university campus is catering to 20,000 families in and around the campus. The university has a clear vision of serving the community and developing its people to have proper employability and livelihood. In the last decade or so, it has moved far ahead in this direction and continues its journey towards this noble cause.