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Ingenious Engineers for India

Andreas Blom's picture

With its massive talent-base, a unique ability to attract its best and brightest students to the engineering discipline, and the presence of some of the world’s leading companies, India has an enormous potential to modernize its economy through engineering education and technology.

However, I think the potential is not fully exploited. The majority of new engineers in India are superb at rote memorization useful to pass paper exams. Many students, however, are less skilled at solving real-life problems with creativity. Also they lack communication and team skills in order to succeed in a demanding international setting.

What can be done to improve engineering education? Sure, the much-discussed reform of the central regulatory bodies is needed. Is decentralization of power from central agencies to the universities the answer? Will that lead to better education quality? While this effort may provide better information regarding education quality, reforming the central regulatory agencies alone will not result in increased quality of technical education.

A lot can be achieved by the Institutional directors and faculty members. The Technical Education Quality Improvement Project, TEQIP in short, has demonstrated what can be achieved. TEQIP is a Government of India project with assistance from the World Bank that supported 127 Institutions and thousands of Faculty members, and invested 1,340 crores (~$275 million as of August 27, 2009) in quality improvements.

 

TEQIP supports institutions that really want to progress and educate resourceful, problem-solving engineers. Many state governments and faculty blame the system and the rigid rules. “Incentives are not in place, and we have no power,” they say. That is partly true. The curriculum and exams are cast in stone for hundreds of institutions. The faculty salary stays the same whether the teachers prepare new course material every year or not. But improvements are possible, by allowing more autonomy to the universities and colleges.

 

As part of TEQIP, the University Institute of Chemical Technology in Mumbai gained academic autonomy. It improved PhD production by 300 percent in 4 years. Further, the College of Engineering in the city of Pune achieved autonomous status which allowed it to revamp the curriculum focusing on teaching of design, hands-on, applicability and creative skills. TEQIP helped with extensive investment in labs and professional development of faculty. Nine colleges in the state of Karnataka have obtained academic autonomy and are now reforming their programs.

 

I commend the State governments, institutional leaders, and faculty that have taken the pains to break status quo. More of these efforts are needed to educate the ingenious engineers that the 21st century India needs.



 

Comments

Rs 1,340 crores can help in development of as many as 1,34,000 small technologies for day to day industrial & personal use. Alternatively this can be used to create 1,34,000 new micro enterprises employing minimum 5,00,000 people and ensuring food security for 2.5 million population throughout life considering average family size of 5. In India a standard village requires minimum 1 Engineer as Leader, 1 Common Facilities Center, 1 Market Place, 1 Medical Practioner, 1 Legal Practioner and such other people totalling more than 20 people. Considering needs of 8 lakh villages these 1.5 crore employment opportunities can lead to multiplier effect in economic activity. In today's world ICT can help centralise all policy implementations effectively. Hence question of decentralisation is irrelevant. All engineering and management institutions in India are always free to build their students into engineering entrepreneurs. They always have auutonomy to provide extra facilities to their students from whom they charge from Rs 2 lakhs to Rs 6 lakhs as tuition fee. There are lot of government schemes more than Rs 50,000/- Crores for promoting engineering research, business incubation and entrepreneurship. All this requires little bit of entrepreneurship and an enabling environment for engineers to work freely in villages. We like to partner with institutions in India to promote entrepreneurship at grassroot level. We like to convert all institutions into business incubation centers from which companies pass out not mere employees.

Submitted by Tej on
Yes this is staggering, while India does create more than a lakh engineers a year. Less than 4% go on for a post grad and only 2% go of the post grads get a phd. Most of the crucial challenges that India faces in engineering need interdisciplinary courses. e.g This is something engineering colleges woefully lacks. What can be done? 1. Revamp UG and PG courses with interdisciplinary courses 2. Give incentives for students opting for postgrad 3. Change GATE pattern to focus on problem solving skills rather than rote memorization. 4. Create awareness among young students that there are more interesting problems to solve in fields other than IT. 5. Incubate entrepreneurs.

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