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Strengthen-Out Engineering Education And Its Challenges

The tactic for engineering education needs to be interdisciplinary with new technology courses at the core. Exponential advances in knowledge, instrumentation, communication, and computational capabilities have created mind-boggling possibilities, and students must be cutting across traditional disciplinary boundaries in unprecedented ways.

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The IT Industry is moving at a far higher pace than what the academic institutions can cope with.

India has more than ten thousand engineering institutes and over fifteen lakh students graduating from these institutions every year. Precisely, a large number and a lion’s share of global engineering talent. Normally we see that engineering education is revolved around the old silos like civil engineering or mechanical engineering or electronics, that leaves them with very little opportunities in the real world. Hence, there is a dire need to reimagine engineering education in India.

The IT Industry is moving at a far higher pace than what the academic institutions can cope with. Agenda for making the industry and academia work together is not strong. Hence, the industry-academia gap continues to exist. The tactic for engineering education needs to be interdisciplinary with new technology courses at the core. Exponential advances in knowledge, instrumentation, communication, and computational capabilities have created mind-boggling possibilities, and students must be cutting across traditional disciplinary boundaries in unprecedented ways.

There is a lot of merit in bringing in the curriculum to include new age courses on machine learning, Blockchain, and other emerging technologies and the curriculum should dismantle the walls between engineering and scientific disciplines and enable students to connect the dots. The key to generating a new paradigm shift for careers in engineering for the next generation of talented minds lies in reimagining high-quality, higher education in engineering and the sciences along with the following lines.

How can we prepare engineers for jobs tomorrow?

In today’s extremely competitive world, a degree in engineering no longer guarantees job security. Future engineers will require additional specialization and skills to adapt to the rapid digitization of industries. Remember the Indian IT industry is almost 40 years old when industries surpass decades, they need to face and overcome generational shifts in technology and business models. What we are seeing now is a combination of rapid technology evolution towards digital and new-tech and business model evolution towards driving more non-linear revenue growth. The need for re-skilling the Indian technology workforce stems from this combination.  And, to be able to adapt to the changing landscape, students should look for opportunities to enhance their skills and gain hands-on industry experience in real-life applications.

The plus point with today’s students is that they are digitally savvy, making it easier for them to adapt to contemporary engineering concepts. Machine learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), Blockchain, BOTS, Intelligent Apps, Cloud Implementation as the top Trends for the year 2018 and as we already stepped into 2019, these technologies will continue to create avenues for innovation.

Also, the government along with educational institutes is providing platforms to encourage innovative thinking in young graduates. Engineering will continue to be a desirable career stream in the years to come.

Challenges and prospects

India’s problem with substandard engineering education quite visible. Except for IIT’s and other prestigious institutions most of the private engineering colleges are unable to provide education to students that would get them suitable jobs. And, the root cause of the problem is mushrooming of low-quality engineering colleges over the years. As students from such colleges fail to get suitable jobs, they face a decline in enrolment. According to a report estimates that 80% of current engineering graduates are not employable. It is not the students who have fallen short, it is the engineering education has not evolved with time.

So, in this fast-changing world, engineers need to be trained to manage the varied complexities and uncertainties of the modern world. Ensuring that they are given practical solutions to work on so that they meet the needs of the present. This can happen only when the evaluation system pushes more towards a higher level of capability. Even at the cost of number (which is presently in far higher supply than need) if this can be achieved, the engineering education system will mass-produce far more globally competitive, high-end engineers and make a mark for India in the global hi-tech marketplace.

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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