Build a better model

We need a new model for engineering education – right from teaching and examinations to ensuring that colleges are financially viable

Raghunath K Shevgaonkar | June 16, 2017


#B tech   #jobs   #AICTE   #engineering college   #engineering   #IIT  
Build a better model (Illustration: Ashish Asthana)
Build a better model (Illustration: Ashish Asthana)

From the 1990s, a large number of engineering institutions were opened in India. Most of these institutions were churning out engineers specialising in information technology and electronics and telecommunications. Over the last decade, there was a hude demand for IT professionals for routine coding jobs. So these engineers were finding employment in the many software companies that were thriving during the period.

But with time, requirements changed. The engineering colleges were found to be oversupplying. Colleges, especially those that were far from the cities, could not fill all their seats. Because of under-enrolment, the financial model of these institutions has crumbled and they are becoming unsustainable.
 
 
Today, we have a very large number of engineering graduates, but do they have the adequate standards and knowledge? In many engineering institutions, the admission cut-offs are such that you just need to have passed Std XII to get in. We can’t hope to produce great engineers with such input. In a large number of our engineering colleges, there is an acute shortage of qualified teachers. The employability of our engineers, of course, is related to the quality of education.
 
Despite the absence of proper teaching, some good students (who are a small percentage anyway) somehow manage to develop the expected knowledge and skills on their own. But the majority remain substandard. Specialised courses in the final year will help in improving employability to some extent, but unless the graduates have a good foundation in basic engineering, a specialised course may be only of limited help. 
 
 
The thrust of engineering education should be on imparting a solid foundation which is independent of the industry. The exam system in our universities needs to be completely revamped. Exams should test the understanding of a subject, not students’ ability to memorise. A proper examination system will help graduates handle problems logically in their professional career. Industry-specific training can be the icing on the cake.  
 
What is happening today is that engineering pass-outs do not find jobs in their core competency. They find employment in the IT sector – which offers more opportunities, as compared to other branches of engineering. Due to oversupply of engineers, employers have started hiring them with low salaries and the whole thing has become unattractive. Nevertheless, an engineering graduate still has a better employability than other graduates.  
 
If India has to become a knowledge hub, the role of engineering pass-outs has to change. The manufacturing industry has to grow to employ a large number of engineers in core engineering with competitive perks. With more and more automation, engineering graduates have to do more high-level jobs like design etc. So, even in IT, engineers have to work on software design and development that generates intellectual property. We do not need to limit the number of graduating engineers, but there is certainly a need for proper distribution among the various disciplines of engineering. Today, there is a surplus of engineers in some branches; and some core branches are facing a shortfall. There is a need to assess national requirement of engineers in various disciplines, considering the long-term vision of the national development.
 
The state of engineering education in the country is not something of which we should be proud. We produce almost one million engineers every year but our engineering impact at the global level is hardly noticeable.
 
Excellence is the keyword today. Engineering education must become quality-conscious. The national thrust should be on creating high-quality teachers with high integrity. Adequate research funding should be made available by the industry for developing competitive products. A proper financial model for running an engineering institution that can produce engineers of global competence needs to be devised. It should be realised that engineering education, due to its experimental nature, is not cheap. A good financial model will make the quality education accessible to all intellectually deserving youths without constraining the institutions in their vision of excellence.
 
Shevgaonkar, a former director of IIT Delhi and former V-C of the University of Pune, is a professor of electrical engineering at IIT Bombay.
 

Comments

 

Other News

“Managing data is challenging”

The Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS) is a society set up by the railways ministry in July 1986 to provide IT related services to the Indian Railways. CRIS deals in a gamut of functions, like passenger ticketing, freight operations, train dispatching and control, crew management, e-procurement,

A boost to those who need it most

What are 600 million people? Almost twice the population of the US. What are 500 million people? About three-fourth of the population of Europe. Why are we talking about these numbers? Well, because as per a study by Sandhya Krishnan and Neeraj Hatekar (‘Rise of New Middle Class in India and Its

Expanding Eureka!

Abright yellow van with figures of children playing with a whirligig, a Newton’s cradle, a magnetic compass rolls into the Government Higher Primary School in Kittaganahalli, on the outskirts of Bengaluru. Students in the playground leave what they are doing and mill about it in excitement. For they

The spark in the classroom

Not many children dream of starting an idyllic school of their own when they grow up. But Ramji Raghavan, founder of the Agastya International Foundation – which fosters the creative learning of science in stude

Trafficking survivors’ votes don’t count

While the entire nation is agog with political grapevine, political parties are weighing on all options to lure voters by touching upon issues that impact their lives. Several parties, including the BJP and the Congress have released their manifestos while many are about to join the bandwagon. The

“I have a bigger reason and motivation to join politics”

Urmila Matondkar joined the Congress party and within just two months into politics, the actor is already surrounded by controversies – from being accused of making anti-Hindu comments to inappropriate poll campaigning. Fielded against BJP’s Gopal Shetty in the Mumbai North constituency, Ma



Current Issue

Current Issue

Video

CM Nitish’s convoy attacked in Buxar

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter