For its part, Carnegie Mellon offers its degree in partnership with a small private institution here, the Shri Shiv Shankar Nadar College of Engineering. Most of the course work is done at relatively inexpensive rates here in India, followed by six months in Pittsburgh, at the end of which students graduate with a Carnegie Mellon degree.
The arrangement circumvents most of the usual Indian government restrictions. The curriculum is devised in partnership with Carnegie Mellon, and students are chosen jointly by faculty from both schools.
There are no affirmative action requirements for student admissions, as there are in accredited colleges. Fees are not regulated by the state. It is expensive by Indian standards, though nearly all of the students are subsidized by scholarships financed by Shiv Nadar, the college’s founder and chief executive of HCL Technologies, one of India’s leading technology companies.
The applicants on the recent evening in Chennai were eager to please the gatekeepers from Pittsburgh. They addressed them politely with a series of “yes, sirs.” Asked what they could contribute to Carnegie Mellon, some of them became flummoxed. One young man said he wanted to develop software designed for the “global citizen,” by which he meant a way to transfer money across continents using a mobile phone.
Mr. Muddana, who had a bachelor’s degree in information technology and had spent the past eight months as a software developer for an Indian firm, said he saw the program as a cost-effective ticket to an American degree and a chance to work for a few years in the United States.
This is a great deal for CMU and Indian citizens, but what's the upside for Pittsburgh? Pittsburgh enterprise could piggyback on CMU's relationship, thereby gaining a toehold in an important emerging market. Pittsburgh must learn how to exploit the transient presence of talent. Trying to keep Indian talent in Pittsburgh is impractical.