BRIDGING THE RESEARCH APPLICATION GAP

Today engineering graduates are taught a series of skill sets above and beyond the curriculum, which makes them much more employable

January 15, 2008


Not long ago, academic institutes and industry, which share a mutual relationship in terms11s of rolling out and absorbing the qualified skillset, seemed to be working on different planes. However, the economic boom and an increasing global competition has altered the situation for the better. Pune, an established hub for manufacturing, automotive, auto-components and infotech (IT) industries, couldn't have been an exception to this change that is reflected in the enhanced thrust on Industry Institute Interaction (ill) and Industry Institute Partnersnip (lIP).

Anil Sahasrabuddhe, director, College of Engineering Pune (CoEP) explains, "In true sense, the impetus to such interaction and partnership came from the Booze Allen survey report, released a few years ago. The report, commissioned by the National association of software and service company (Nasscom) was fIrst to raise a serious concern over the employ ability of engineering graduates."

The report set off a reaction by the industry to start working in close co-ordination with the institutes to ensure that the curricula was in tune with the requirements of the changing times, and the learning curve was brought down to the minimum. Pune has over 35 engineering colleges that generate a vast talent pooL

According to industrialist Naushad Forbes, who is on the Confederation of Indian mdustry's (CII) innovation panel, the industry-institute interaction (III) profile in Pune city was largely confIned to hiring graduates from engineering colleges. "Few institutes in Pune are actually doing research. A few others have started to do so but the research engagement is still on a smail scale," he said. The focus ought to be on ensuring quality faculties that would result in high quality research. The industry role in developing curricula too was largely dependent on someone taking the initiative, said Forbes.

Institutes like the CoEP, Vishwakarma Institute of Teclmology (VIT) and Maharashtra Institute of Technology (MIT) were quick to get off the block vis-a-vis interacting and partnering the ipdustry for research.

For instance, Sahasrabuddhe explained, the CoEP got into several MoDs with the industry in the last year. Engineering services fIrm Neilsoft tied up with CoEP to develop a 2OO-hour add on module, which is to be offered to engineering students over and above the normal curriculum. This includes soft skills, practical engineering practices, motivating lectures by successful engineers, problem solving abilities, challenges in engineering and new trends in engineering.

The Plumbing Association of India tied up with CoEP to set up a state-of-the-art plumbing lab at the college's civil engineering department. This will be the fIrst lab of its kind in Asia, said Sahasrabuddhe. "The idea is to make civil engineers aware of latest gadgets and equipment in the market, which they would have never seen till they go into industry," he said.

Larsen and Toubro (L&T) is assisting the CoEP in raising an electrical lab that will provide a fIrst hand feel of latest gadgets, lighting items, switchgears to enable students to understand the market trends. Similarly, CoEP faculties will be involved in offering six-month training to practising engineers from the Kirloskar Brothers Limited (KBL) in turbo-machinery and pumps.

The CoEP already has MOUs with many software and hardware fIrms including TCS, Wipro, IBM and Microsoft, to train its students in soft skills and its faculty in professional aspects.

Founder head of MIT Vishwanath Karad observed that nanotech, composite and smart materials would be the next buzzwords and much of the industry-institute joint effort would be focused in these areas.

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