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Reviving the Joy of Engineering

Technology and globalisation are driving changes and transformations at levels never seen before. What awaits future generations is a world of automation and digitally enabled technologies. To cope with this ever-changing world, the most important skills required are the ability to think through problems, to understand and critically analyse situations and opportunities logically and rationally, and to be able to create solutions that create an impact.

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We are living in unprecedented times. Technology and globalisation are driving changes and transformations at levels never seen before. What awaits future generations is a world of automation and digitally enabled technologies. To cope with this ever-changing world, the most important skills required are the ability to think through problems, to understand and critically analyse situations and opportunities logically and rationally, and to be able to create solutions that create an impact.

Is this being taught at educational institutions today? The answer is ‘No’. India is producing a huge numbers of B.Tech graduates that are unemployable. Engineering curriculum at most universities in India do not impart the skills required to create capable engineers. An Aspiring Minds survey revealed that only 7% of engineering graduates in India today can be considered employable. Numerous other studies, including one by FICCI, state that anywhere between 65-80% of engineering graduates in India are considered unemployable. The National Employability report, based on a sample of 1,50,000 engineers, found that the employability rates for mechanical design graduates and civil engineers were 5.5% and 6.5% respectively.

There is a rising disconnect between what is being taught in engineering programmes and the skills required for engineering graduates to make an impact at the workplace. Very few institutes are imparting problem solving skills. Instead, there is a deep focus on rote learning methods and memorising theory. There is a stagnancy and mediocrity which needs to be addressed and remedied. At university, the brightest high school minds are made to learn the same concepts of physics, chemistry and math that they studied in the 11th and 12th grade, without any adequate explanation and rationale behind why these concepts are being repeated. This leads to a severe lack of motivation amongst students; many of whom opt out of engineering related careers after completing a four year engineering degree.

We need to ignite our students’ interest in engineering and the sciences - and help them rediscover the joy of engineering. Engineering education needs to become more relevant, hands-on, engaging, and rigorous. At BML Munjal University, to help facilitate this process, we have introduced a course titled ‘Joy of Engineering’ for all engineering programmes. In this course students work in teams to identify a problem, work out a solution, present and defend the prototype, and then fabricate the product in the workshop, computer lab, electronics lab, or using 3D printers. This is a fully hands-on, outcome-based course that gives students the skills required to operate in the workplace. 
The Joy of Engineering course is supplemented by an industry-immersive learning environment characterised by innovative teaching, learning, and research techniques. BMU has partnered with organisations such as Siemens to create on campus Centres of Excellence where students can get exposed to the latest technology used in industry. BMU also has a partnership with Fraunhofer - Europe’s largest applied research institute - and four government labs in order to allow students to conduct cutting edge research right from the first year at the University.

Students also get exposed to real world problems through the Practice School programme - our unique guided internship program. The Practice School programme is spread across three modules, a total of 29 weeks, which count towards a student’s CGPA. Students are jointly evaluated by faculty and industry experts.

There is a pertinent need to foster a spirit of entrepreneurship to inspire students to push their boundaries in terms of new research and innovation. Academic institutions need to make engineering education engaging, relevant, and fun - as well as give students opportunities to create innovative solutions to realistic problems, rather than just learning unending theories. This will help students rediscover the joy of engineering.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house



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