Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Fixing the Indian Education System (Part 3) - 7 Things Engineering Institutes need to do today to Excel.

The number of Engineering institutes in India have grown exponentially in the last decade. In the Government sector alone we have 16 IITs, 30 NITs and 8 IIITs now and many more State Engineering Colleges using State Universities. And we can, in my opinion, stop counting the private ones. On the other hand, the quality of an engineering graduate has declined exponentially.

I agree that the population of India has increased drastically, and we need to provide world class education not just to a select few, but to everyone who deserves it (yes it has to be earned). To do this Engineering Institutes today, have to work on the below 7 point agenda:

  1. Understand that Training Comes Before Placement: The departments are always names “Training and Placement Department”  or “Training and Placement Cell”, however, almost no focus is given on Training. T&P cells need to train students especially in the summer vacations preceding the final year.
  2. Have Industry Experts as Consultants and Trainers: Many companies tie up with academia so that reputed faculty act as consultants on research projects. Similarly, Academic Institutions should also hire Industry Experts to help frame the syllabus as per requirements of the industry. How can any academic without any prior Industry exposure, produce an Engineer who meets the requirement of the country? I am not saying that they can’t, I am just saying that having industry experts as trainers will make the task efficient and fast. Personality development and training from Industry Experts in my opinion should decide 10% of the student’s CGPA and ideally 25%.
  3. Have ‘Latest Trends in Technology’ module in every subject: Lets say that for each subject the syllabus is divided into 7 or 10 modules; in this case the last module, must always be the ‘Latest Trends in Technology’ with no further specifications. Technology is changing every day. For example, today we need to teach Bluetooth 4.0, NFC and 5G In Wireless Networks, where we teach Bluetooth2.0, WiFi and 3G. In case of operating systems Android and Windows 8.1 should be taught. In case of Strength of Materials – case study of Burja Khalifa, Dubai should take place. And I understand it is difficult for faculty to keep themselves updated, given the administrative responsibilities that they have; that is why we need Industry Experts to do the job. Also in exams at least 10% of questions should be from latest technologies - basic ones, but still there.
  4. Institute must include 6 months Internship program as a part of Syllabus: Most institutes have a final year or final semester project. However, we all know, what kind of projects are done by students. Institutes should have the option that student either does 6 months Internship or the project. This option can be given to the student in the final semester, which is done my most institutes which have 6 months Internship as a part of their curriculum. However, PEC University of Technology, Chandigarh, has 6 months internship in 6th semester for BTech. This has lots of benefits. If the student has done 6 months Internship in 6th semester he has a clear idea of his career interests, his area of interest, different between academia and industry, and whether to get a job or go for MBA or MS or MTech. Even if the institutes may not be able to implement this, final semester internship is always possible. Students who do not get internship can always do projects (preferably research or development or case studies if they are interested in management)
  5. Inter-disciplinary projects from 1st year: Most Institutes have option of only final year or final semester projects. Instead, there should be one project every semester. If it can’t be from 1st year, it can be very well started from 2nd or at least 3rd year. Usually these projects are department specific, while no product is an engineering branch specific product. For example, to make a Mobile Phone, you need a Chemical Engineer, a Mechanical Engineer, an Electrical Engineer, an Electronics Engineer and a Computer Science Engineer. So we must have inter-disciplinary projects.
  6. Tap the Internal Experts: Students the best resources in any Engineering Institute. You can not deny the fact that every batch has some really good/bright students. Also, you can also find different experts - Music, Sports, Presentation, Managerial, Technical etc. Institutes fail to realize that they have the future experts of tomorrow, today! They have so many of the gems available, but they don't realize or value them. They fail to utilize them in a way that institute gets benefited. Such gems must be identified and used as trainers. 4th year students should be teaching 1st to 3rd year students. 3rd year students should be teaching 1st to 2nd year students. This is because the understanding of the students overlap. They are able to make others understand faster and in a simpler way.
  7. Marks for Extra-curricular activities for all-round development should take place: Everyone now knows that technical skills are not the only skills required to grow professionally as well as in personal life. Students should be taught:
    1. Proper Communication Skills
    2. Presentation Skills
    3. Moral and Ethical Values
    4. Knowledge of Law and day-to-day required knowledge
    5. Computer Programming and Computer Typing (Most of them use 1/2 fingers and it makes them very in-efficient. Imagine a manager typing with only one finger!)
    6. Basic People and Inter-personal skills developed through organizing various events/contests etc.
    7. Games and Sports 
These extra-curricular activities should be part of the CGPA system and ideally 25 and at least 10 percent of the marks should consist of these activities. If the CGPA system is relative, this will make the competition better, since the person winning International Contests will raise the level.

Most of the people will say that this is not possible, they will out-rightly reject it. However, many Colleges have already started some of the these practices recently, and some have been following at least 1 of the things mentioned above for a long-long time.

If you have a faculty, who is close to you (There is at least one Ram Shankar Nikumbh around ) AND in case you feel like valid points have been made in this article, make sure you show it to him/her.  Who knows, s/he might be able to turn things around!

2 comments:

  1. agree with you sir... but including extra marks for communication skills may lowers many student's cgpa.

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    Replies
    1. that's the point Pranav, this will force people to pay attention to communication skills.

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