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April 16, 2019
According to Yajulu Medury, director, Mahindra Ecole Centrale, granting greater autonomy to institutions and updating curriculum on regular basis will enable engineering course more industry - relevant. Moreover AI and automation skills are the most important for engineering graduates.
Here we can discuss about the current challenges of Engineering education in India and its achievements.
The biggest challenge that is faced by Engineering educators is outdated curriculum. The speed of new developments far outpaces the speed of changes in curriculum, leaving the students with an education that is not for the future but for the present. Today, the government regulations do not permit us to be nimble footed in curriculum choices and more autonomy can help in changing scenario. Employability of engineers is a factor that emanates from this and is a major challenge.
Achievements have been many. Despite all odds, our engineering graduates are the most feted of the lot, globally. We have been able to work with all the issues and yet produce globally competitive engineers that are winning laurels all around.
Employability is an outcome of what the core ingredients of education have been. Topicality of the curriculum, focussed industry-academia connect, research focus, quality faculty, availability of quality infrastructure (labs, tech-enabled study material) and peer interaction are some of the ways in which the employability can be improved.
I have been a vociferous advocate of more autonomy to institutions, constant curriculum updation and incentivising outcomes. We should be allowed to make structural changes in the course curriculum that our colleges teach. These changes should reflect the changes that are becoming more visible in the industry. The regulator should regulate and not micro-manage. I am told that the new Higher Education policy draft looks at these and more and I welcome a situation wherein we are looked upon as collaborators to better the education system and not just as followers of archaic systems of education.
Some of the main sectors, which will offer jobs in India to engineers, will include IT and telecom, infrastructure (including construction, transport and logistics), healthcare, education, food processing industry and services, especially since there is a paucity of skilled workforce in these sectors.
AI and automation will be all-pervasive and it is important that these be a part of any skilling process. All domains will require up-skilling or re-skilling to be relevant in the current scenario. According to LinkedIn Emerging Jobs Report, around 6 out of 15 top emerging jobs have some element of AI in it. BlockChain is another major job creator as are machine learning and data science.
International rankings focus on those areas that most of our Indian institutes overlook. For example, in academic considerations, which accounts for around 20% of the total weightage, curriculum is the most important part. Most Indian institutions cannot compete on this, since our regulations do not permit us innovation in curriculum.
Research is a focus area in global rankings. To get a degree in India, there is a much larger number of courses that you need to take, leaving very little time to focus on research. Faculty development is another major focal area and faculty grants, research and industry connect as well as accreditations are looked upon favourably in these rankings.
Yes, technology will remain an important part of the learning process. As we move towards a high level of digitalisation and automation, we need to create virtual learning environments for our students and develop competencies in them to help them in their professional lives. Most educational institutes have started to focus on developing new skill sets in emerging technologies like AI, Virtual and Augmented Reality, Machine and Deep Learning, Robotics, etc for students and engaging with industry practitioners for the same.
Our plan is to enhance our focus on research and laboratory development to make Engineering more interesting to the students. We also wish to offer courses in AI, Computational Mathematics and related areas, subject to getting due approvals.
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