Insisting there is a huge gap between the expectations of the industry and the end products in academia, Dr. Vikram Bali, Director of IMS Engineering College, tells Education Post that emphasis must be on experiential education by involving students in real life projects to enhance employability.
Tell us about your vision for the growth of IMS Engineering College (IMSEC).
Over the years, IMSEC has been successful in taking diversified, proactive and crucial steps for the growth of engineering education, maintaining standards, and to keep the curricula current and relevant as per the industry. While much has been accomplished, continuously changing expectations of the industry, global society and the vast stakeholder community inspire us to welcome and embrace technology disruption, globalization and make changes from time to time accordingly.
Factors like technology and globalization have cultivated the seeds in communities to motivate and transform themselves into knowledge-driven thinkers and operators. So, our key endeavor is to develop a strong technology-driven and innovative mindset and simultaneously train students to apply engineering-prompted principles in real-world situations to solve complex problems.
We are committed to imbibe analytical, logical, soft skills and ethical values in students to make them sustainable human resources accepted on the global platform. IMSEC is determined to promote and strengthen R&D programs to combat real-life industrial challenges in this unprecedented technical era of revolution.
We are witnessing a drastic change in our pedagogy. Encouraging industry visits for faculty members for hands-on exposure to the latest technologies is vital. For this, we are connecting with the industry at large and associations are being done to leverage the target in mind.
Employment generation is very critical to a nation’s economic landscape. We are in the process of making our academic institute a hub for imparting quality education in developing technical and soft skills to directly contribute to employment.
Research-driven strategies and policies are undermined. Thus, our key focus is to establish project management cells in each engineering domain to trigger research-oriented acumen that ensure quick turnarounds, reduce cost and better collaborations across industry and academia.
What steps should be taken to build a connection between the industry and academia?
There is a huge gap between the expectations of the industry and the end products in academia. The time demands formulation of some strategies to bridge this vacuum earnestly and with immediate effect. Of course, there are several challenges because we the least pay heed to the industry demands and innovative research-based ideology. We have to cope with the rapid changes in the global business environment with the advent of advanced technological developments. Distinguished tools and techniques have been summarized to connect the temperament of higher educational institutions and corporate world.
We should encourage industry interactions for students by strengthening our training and placement division and creating a robust alumni network infrastructure. Emphasis must be on experiential education by involving students in real-life projects. Encourage finishing schools to enhance employability.
Execution of the concept of “learning factories” is of paramount importance. Combine didactical approaches and existing concepts with emerging topics of the industry is the need of the hour.
We have to ensure seamless coordination between academia and industry because both operate on entirely different pedestals. Thus, it is highly essential to invite industry experts to conduct guest lectures to understand the pulse of the students and report back to the industry with their feedback. It enables the industry to prepare its induction programs and corporate training programs accordingly. Besides, industries have to be encouraged to invite educators to understand expectations, and recruiters to visit campus to empathize with the challenges of educational institutions.
Last but not the least, students must understand that there is permanent employability, not permanent employment in the present world. Nevertheless, the torchbearers must be sensitive enough to feel that it is their foremost responsibility to make students employable and deployable in the corporate world.
How will the New Education Policy (NEP) impact the way the industry employs and trains new graduates?
Various surveys are testimony that freshers are not fully prepared for their professional life due to lack of industry-centric education. There is a vast gap between industry and academia. With the new policy coming into the limelight, college education will not only be seen as a facilitator of degree but it will portray itself as a medium to build a personality required in the industry to shape a better career ahead.
The New Education Policy is lucrative. Students will be awarded certificates for the completion of every academic year during graduation with the backing of a degree. Moreover, if the student leaves his course in between due to some issues, then after a gap also, he/she can continue the course right from the point where they had left and wrap up successfully without enrolling fresh. In a nutshell, the new policy seems to focus more on skill development catering to the needs of the corporate world.
Another blessing of New Education Policy is that the industry will witness a shift from summative assessment to regular and formative assessment, which is more based more on competency, one that promotes learning and development and tests higher-order skills such as analysis, logical thinking and clarity.
This multidisciplinary education is a progressive measure towards creating a high-potential workforce. Then, supporting the idea of making more institutions go autonomous gives the flexibility to decide the curriculum and pedagogy which will create world-class talents in India.
The decision of implementing “Choice Based Credit System – a multidisciplinary approach” will certainly inspire students and provide flexibility in choosing between programs of choice. Although this emerging idea needs mentorship and guidance to ensure that the given flexibility doesn’t distract them from their dream destination and boosts a flexible learning ecosystem to ignite the thought process of creating more resilient and self-driven workforce.
How can we ensure better administrative policies in India for the education sector?
The onus lies on the specific institution to optimize valuable resources and best utilization of their existing capacity for the best yield.
The major emphasis should be on employability of engineering graduates. Their deactivated or dormant skills should be honed right from day one to get them activated. Their mindset, perception and attitude should be groomed so that their productivity and efficiency get increased enormously.
Industry-academia partnership is one of the key areas that requires utmost attention to bridge the gap and the leverage must be encashed by the students.
Of course, with the unprecedented changes and advent of new technological developments, the educationists should foresee the emerging trends and demands for the future. This will help in navigating engineering education to combat the future needs and shape students’ future accordingly.
Higher education has evolved into a highly dynamic space. How have the teaching methods and curriculum changed over the years?
Changes are inevitable. Every day is a new dawn to welcome the latest technology. With the advent of the latest technology, we are compelled to switch gears. We have to prepare sustainable human resources to combat the challenges of today’s industrial world at the global platform. Therefore, transformation is the only new horizon we can look for. This can only be possible by revising and reviving our course curriculum. Churning of thoughts is mandatory. Evolution to the higher-level means, making the curriculum different in some way, to give a new position or direction. This often means alteration to its philosophy by way of its aims and objectives, reviewing the content included, revising its methods, industry demand, means re-strategizing the evaluation procedures to give it an all-new shape.
Moreover, teaching styles have changed significantly over the years. The traditional way that education was delivered was through recitation and memorization techniques. The modern way of doing things involves interactive methods that evoke critical thinking, problem-solving and decision-making skills. Nevertheless, modern learning encourages students to collaborate and therefore is more productive. We must appreciate and encourage new and innovative approaches to teach. Education reforms mean that learning is taught from a completely different angle. Progressive educational practices focus more on the individual student’s needs, rather than assuming all students are at the same level of understanding. The modern way of teaching is more activity-based, using questioning, explaining, demonstration and collaboration techniques.
Your message to students as the world begins to open up Post-COVID?
My experience says that phobia in imagination is more fatal than in real-world situations. Often, we make our living stressful because we underestimate our potential. Students should be promising to counter all sorts of challenges of life. Actually, all of us have diversified needs and different ways of coping with cumbersome situations. Few students have dealt well with restrictions and changing scenarios. For others, it is challenging to cope with all the changes and uncertainty. They are feeling some level of stress, anxiety, isolation and grief.
To succeed, they should believe that every problem has a solution. Students must cultivate and become matured to create empathy and understand limitations of others. Be flexible and generate authenticate sources of information. Identify the appropriate source to share the difficulties. Focus on feasible solutions and optimize after discussions with experts.