Too much of discussion, no action on the ground: Pradeep Chaturvedi

Pradeep Chaturvedi, former chairman of the Delhi unit of the Institution of Engineers (India), has spent more than four decades in engineering. He speaks about the state of engineering education in India and the prospects for young engineers

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Pranita Kulkarni | June 16, 2017 | Delhi


#Institute of Engineers   #jobs   #AICTE   #engineering college   #engineering  
Pradeep Chaturvedi, former chairman of the Delhi unit of the Institution of Engineers (India)
Pradeep Chaturvedi, former chairman of the Delhi unit of the Institution of Engineers (India)

What ails engineering education in India?
Fifteen or 20 years back, a large number of industrialists and businessmen started engineering colleges, looking at them as a business opportunity. A large number of engineering colleges came up in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, and also in Tamil Nadu. However, when the IITs – which pay teachers well and have a brand equity – have 40-45 percent vacancies in teachers’ positions, where was the possibility of small, low-paying private engineering colleges getting good teachers? Most students who have passed from small, private engineering colleges have been more or less ill-educated.

 
 
After the government allowed private and deemed universities, there hasn’t been quality control in engineering education. Ninety percent of final year BTech students wouldn’t have visited any factory. For quality control, you usually have third-party audits: here, when we don’t even have the second party (that is, teachers), where are we going to find the third party (that is, auditors)! That’s why, especially in the last four-five years, almost 50 percent seats in engineering colleges go untaken, and a large number of colleges are closing down. 
 
What are the prospects for engineering graduates?
We keep saying that we must move from an agricultural economy to an industrial economy and that manufacturing needs a boost. When we talk about manufacturing, the first thing that comes to mind is engineers. What we don’t realise is that we don’t need a large number of engineers for manufacturing, because factories are going for automation. Manufacturers may not increase their labour force by even one percent. These private colleges keep churning out students for whom there are no takers. Many of these students are from poor backgrounds, and take loans for their education. They end up earning as little as Rs 5,000-10,000 monthly. Those who perform better in their BTech exams have started opting for computer-based jobs, data entry, BPOs or marketing. In the last 10 years, a large number of them have been absorbed in marketing and the BPO sector. After doing mechanical engineering, electrical or civil, they would opt for well-paying software jobs, because there were jobs afloat. Now, they are gone too.
 
 
What can be done to remedy this situation?
Right now, the situation is: too much discussion, not enough action. The government, per se, cannot produce quality engineers. But it can ensure better quality engineering education. The government can run campaigns in schools to spread awareness. Children should know what prospects they have in any field. Here, they decide they have to go for engineering, and start going to coaching classes when they don’t even know what engineering is, and whether it is good or bad for them. The engineering curriculum has to be revised more often. We do it once in 10 years. Technology becomes outdated in two years. So the review of the education system has to be done, and delivery mechanisms also need to be updated. Engineering teachers also must undergo special courses. They should learn what is happening in the field at the national and international level. You cannot have good engineering education without good quality teachers.

pranita@governancenow.com

(The interview appears in June 30, 2017 edition)

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