Every stone on road is an engineer today
Dr. Sunil Pandey
Only a few are aggressive about the plight of engineering education. And one among them is Dr. Sunil Pandey, Director, Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering & Technology who unravels placement gimmick. He sees engineers trapped into slavery, “In pre-independence era, the British used to take Indians to Fiji, Mauritius for sugar farming. Now post modernization, Indians do software farming abroad.” Dr Pandey concludes the interview with Shiphony Pavithran Suri by analysing the two characters in the film ‘Three Idiots’. “In India – there are millions of Chatur Ramalingams but no Ranchos. And India needs Ranchos. Chatur can only be a slave of MNCs.”
Q. Ironically, some lakhs of students enrol for engineering institutes. But only a handful gets jobs. How long will this scenario continue?
A. It’s a slow cancer. You have to be clear about the country’s need. I feel vertical integration of technology should be stopped. It should be grass root development. Only a good foundation can erect a building. We are teaching high eyebrow subjects, but do we need such knowledge now. We should be first equipped with basics of engineering and later we can experiment. This is the reason why our students go into finance and management domains. Today every stone on the road is an engineer! B.Tech students are running grocery, cloth houses.
Q. Sant Longowal practises a unique engineering education model. Tell us about itâ¦
A. The model is a respite for both students and parents who worry about engineering career from the school itself. We are absorbing students from right after class 10. Students are free from all major engineering exams like JEE or GATE, a must to enter prestigious technical colleges at graduate and postgraduate level. We have introduced combined integrated degree model (2+2+3) which includes certificate, diploma and degree costs Rs. 10,000, Rs. 30,000 and Rs. 18,000 respectively. And our’s is the cheapest engineering college in the country. The model is flexible in the sense that students can either continue learning or enter and exit between programmes. This is the real model which government should adopt in all engineering colleges. Typically, parents start pressurising from class 10 to prepare for engineering competitive exams. We have introduced flexible, relaxing model – a student can kick off with certificate course soon after class 10 leading to other degrees.
Placement is really a gimmick. Many institutes have played with emotions of both parents and students. Initial job is good, but it becomes monotonous in the long-run
Q. Today more than education, the hype hovers around placement?
A. Placement is really a gimmick. Many companies, institutes have played with emotions of both parents and students. Students’ testimonies reveal that initial job is exciting, but it becomes monotonous in the long run. Some companies exploit students badly with shoddy jobs. Many students complain that they want to come back to actual engineering. It’s a funny situation - earlier the British used to take Indians to Fiji, Mauritius for sugar farming. Now after modernization, Indians do software farming abroad. Engineers are slaves today.
Q. What’s the major miss in engineering education?
A. I feel we must revive our curriculum. What we lack is that we do not develop technology from grass root levels. Internet-based learning is all good. But are we really thinking about scalability in real terms? A teacher will sit on Internet, he will download some curriculum emulating MIT or Stanford. We must go beyond virtual learning!
Only when a professor goes to the industry and simultaneously teaches in the class, can he deliver best knowledge to students. We can achieve when there is possibility of inter-changeability. Teachers must not teach downloadable stuff. We don’t have ground floor, and you speak of 10th floor. Teachers’ accountability is a must. We are introducing biometric attendance inside the classroom both for teacher sand students. This will allow us to know how many hours’ lectures have been taken.
Q. What sort of engineers do we need?
A. Have you watched Three Idiots? In our country – there are millions of Chaturs but no Ranchos. India needs a Rancho. Chatur can only be a slave of MNCs. Rancho will run the country!