Steam engines are passé. Bullet trains are in. So are artificial intelligence (AI), big data analytics and Internet of Things (IoT).
These latest technological advancements will be part of a revised engineering syllabus — to be introduced from the academic session starting next July — in an attempt to make Indian engineers more employable through practical learning and new courses.
The changed syllabus is aimed at addressing the problem of falling placements of fresh engineering graduates, said a top official of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the body that regulates technical education in the country.
India has more than 3,000 registered engineering institutes, which produce an estimated 7 lakh engineers every year, but barely half of them manage to get hired on campus. In 2015-16, out of a total of 7.58 lakh graduates, only 3.34 lakh got jobs through campus placements, according to data released by AICTE.
The AICTE has prepared the model engineering curriculum as per the recommendations of 11 subject committees it had set up for engineering and technical institutes, excluding the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and National Institutes of Technology (NITs). The human resource development ministry has already approved the curriculum, ministry sources said.
Under the revised curriculum, theoretical classes will be brought down from 30 to 20 every week. Mandatory courses such as environmental sciences, the Indian Constitution and “essence of traditional knowledge” will be included, though students will not get marks for them.
Officials said the new curriculum will ensure final-semester students are free to pursue project works to understand industry requirements. There will be mandatory internship in summer breaks in the second or third year.
“This is being done to take pressure off students who come to engineering institutes after undergoing board examinations and extensive coaching. We don’t want to drain them further. We want to capitalise on their creativity,” told MP Poonia, AICTE vice-chairman.
Another council official said the need to update the syllabus stemmed from rapid technological changes.
“Graduates are usually not aware of recent trends and their application in the real world. While we talk about bullet trains, students are learning about steam engines. Some of the institutes are teaching decades-old syllabi and using obsolete teaching tools,” said the official.
While AI deals with robotics and machines with artificial ‘brains’, IoT refers to connecting any device — even washing machines, refrigerators, lamps etc — to the Internet so that they can receive and exchange data.
Pradipta Banerji, a professor at IIT Bombay, said the changes were welcome but added that “education is not (only) about gaining skills”, it is also about broadening the minds. “We need to get our students to think independently, too,” he added.
Another official said the AICTE will also introduce exam reforms and has formed a committee to work out the modalities. An undergraduate student has to write 24 exams in four months and the regulator is looking to reduce it substantially, he said.
Note: News shared for public awareness with reference from the information provided at online news portals.