Cookie usage policy

The website of the University Carlos III of Madrid use its own cookies and third-party cookies to improve our services by analyzing their browsing habits. By continuing navigation, we understand that it accepts our cookie policy. "Usage rules"

Lauidatio Carlos Delgado Kloos

Carlos Delgado Kloos

Life today is not like it used to be. Life today is much more hectic, more immediate, faster, with immediate communications. The fact is that Internet has shrunk space and time. We are now able to stay instantly in touch with people and systems around the world, effortlessly. This “little” detail is changing everything. It is redefining the way we live, work, and have fun. It is changing complete industries, often in a disruptive way. I am sure that you can all think of numerous examples where this has happened: music, news, entertainment, financial services, and a long et cetera.

The uncertainty of the landscape that changes exponentially implies that we cannot predict and build the future by incremental linear advances. As someone said, we are not in an era of change, but in a change of era. Or as others say, we cannot take the risk, not to take risks. We need to think boldly. And in this context, we need new leaders that are brave enough to challenge the status quo and take action to build a better future. Anant Agarwal is to me, such a leader. 

But let’s have a fast review of his life. He was born in Mangalore, India, as he says, like Bangalore, but with an M. Then he studied at the IIT in Madras, an institution that only accepts 1% of the applicants. Then, he went to the United States and got a Ph.D. in Stanford. There he worked first with Thomas Kailath, who by the way also has an honorary doctorate from UC3M, and later with John Hennessy, who developed the RISC architecture and is presently Stanford’s President. Anant became later professor at MIT. There he continued working on computer architecture, with outstanding results, even launching 5 startups and obtaining many awards, including the Maurice Wilkes award from ACM.

If his times of filter design, computer architecture, and VLSI digital circuit design were bright, the more recent period as a key figure in digital education is not less brilliant. As an educator in the classroom, he has always believed that teaching is theater. He is a strong believer in making learning fun, in engaging students, and in making spectacular demos, like the already famous one when he went with a chain saw to class. He stepped down as the MIT CSAIL director to lead edX, the joint initiative of Harvard and MIT, where we also participate as a university in the consortium. Since 2012 he is the CEO of edX. The convergence of cloud computing, video distribution and social networks made the marriage of technology with education possible. The triple mission of edX to increase access to education, improve the quality of education both on campus and online, and facilitate research in learning is very inspiring. Anant set the challenge to educate a billion people in 10 years. He is certainly one of the most prominent leaders in the area and has received almost all possible awards related to MOOCs and digital education.

Anant is not only an extraordinary person as a professional. He has an incredible energy in his private life, for instance, he is a trailblazer in scuba diving. Some have even joked and compared him to the Energizer bunny. Anant still sorts a number of PhD students and is a strong believer in supporting the you. He has been several times in Spain and in particular in our university. He has been here officially in December 2015 when he gave a talk and more recently in May 2017 on the occasion of the EMOOCs 2017 and Open edX conferences. But I understand he has also been here unofficially, for instance when his son did a summer internship at our university. I hear that he likes to come to Spain and enjoys jamón serrano.

What does the future hold in education? I am sure that we will encounter interesting possibilities that will improve teaching capabilities, but on the other hand will force to change direction. How do we have to transform our campuses in view of the technological possibilities? And how our teaching practices and the organization of studies? How do we have to reorient our academic offer in view of the need that the worker must continue learning along the whole professional life? What are the implications of technology in the different research fields? What will be the relation with companies and the society in general in an increasingly open and fluid context? There are many challenges in front of us. Being inspired by a leader like Anant Agarwal will be certainly enriching.

Professor Agarwal, we welcome you as a member of our faculty with great joy.