Careers360 in an interview with Prof. P.J. Narayanan, Director of IIIT Hyderabad brings some interesting observations on the state of engineering education. In this interview, Dr. Narayanan talks about major areas of achievement of IIIT Hyderabad along with the unique academic practices. He also shares career-oriented insights for aspirants.
Read the interview of IIIT Hyderabad Director to know what he says about the need for change in engineering curriculum.
Careers360: Which are the major areas of achievement for IIIT Hyderabad?Prof. P J Narayanan: IIIT, Hyderabad’s achievements have been in research areas such as Robotics, Computer Vision, Human Language Processing, Computational Sciences, etc. Training for research prepares students for greater challenges than training for a specific job. So we focus on research-based education.
Careers360: Could you share some of the unique academic practices at your institute? Prof. P J Narayanan: Enabling the UG students to participate in research is the most innovative and impactful practice at IIIT-H. A large number of our B.Tech students participate in research, publish papers in truly reputed forums, travel to conferences all over the world, etc. The dual degree programmes combine B.Tech with a research-oriented Master’s degree. This creates very highly trained students who are absorbed by universities and research labs worldwide.
Careers360: What do students need to keep in mind while looking for a career? Prof. P J Narayanan: Students have to acquire knowledge of the fundamentals and opt for challenging engagements. None should think of training for a job, however glamorous or lucrative. The computing sector is a fast changing one. More importantly, it is introducing disruptive changes to several other sectors. Students in this area should try to sit at the driver’s seat of such a change. That requires deep understanding and an innovative mindset. Focusing just on skills that are immediately useful to industry is a shortsighted approach.
Careers360: Why do a number of engineering institutions close down?Prof. P J Narayanan: Quality is the key in being able to survive. If an institution is not able to provide quality education of the subject, it should re-evaluate itself. The growth in engineering education was too rapid. Perhaps the larger society cannot sustain it in terms of well-trained faculty, labs, as well as motivated students.
Prof. P J Narayanan, Director, IIIT Hyderabad
When the whole world around us is changing and way students are approaching things we cannot have academic programmes that were rigid the way as it was in the ’60s and ’70s because these are the kids who are growing up in 2015
Careers360: Are the emerging engineering disciplines eclipsing traditional ones? Prof. P J Narayanan: Not exactly. However, change is natural and constant in all disciplines. The clamour for the latest discipline is not healthy. Buildings and construction will see tremendous growth in the future. How can the buildings serve its occupants well while being energy-efficient and environment-friendly? Those studying buildings will have to be aware of all these issues in the future.
Careers360: Is an interdisciplinary curriculum the way forward? Prof. P J Narayanan: Interdisciplinary training will be ever more important in the future. Designing and constructing future buildings will require the knowledge of structures, materials, sensors, human factors, sustainability, etc. There may be more electronic hardware and software in future buildings than cement or bricks! Similarly for other fields as well.
Careers360: Is there a need for changes in engineering curriculum? Prof. P J Narayanan: Curriculum should change with the times. Introducing more interdisciplinary is essential to future curriculum. Equally important is to introduce discovery of solutions to unstructured problems in terms of research. Educational institutions cannot impart all knowledge. They should train the students in the art of acquiring knowledge by themselves.
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