By Jodhbir Singh:
Every year in India, many engineering colleges compete with each other by spending huge amounts of money on advertisements to boast about the number of students placed in companies. The competition is not only tough for students to get into companies but it is also tough for swath of engineering colleges to attract companies and place as many engineers as possible. They hope that it should attract best talent for admission next year.
However, there is another way for the engineering colleges to escape from this intense competition and provide a disruptive solution. There are many ways through which our engineering schools can reform education which would encourage holistic learning of their students, instead of limiting them to engineering principles. Some of these initiatives can be:
1) Entrepreneurship Club: Small entrepreneurship groups or clubs can be created to provide a platform for young students to talk about their passion or dreams. The club can also connect with local or national entrepreneurs. This platform will provide students with resources that they will need to take the path of entrepreneurship as a viable career.
2) Competitions: E-club or the college can have competition such as elevator pitch, in which students can give a short pitch of their business idea, and/or business plan in which students can write complete business plans.
3) Brainstorming Sessions: Colleges can organize brainstorming session for students in which they try to find solutions for problems related to technology, society, them, etc. It involves active participation of students with individual ideas unique to each other.
4) Encourage Creativity: Colleges can start programs or additional courses which encourages creativity among students. They need to increase their tolerance for mistakes, because for creativity, there needs to be room for mistakes.
5) Diversity: India is a diverse country with many cultures and languages. Every year, thousands of students go out of state studies. Therefore, diversity events which encourage multiculturalism can be organized or a separate club/group can be created to encourage diversity on campuses.
6) Personality Development: Many colleges already organize personality development programs for students; however, most of those programs are for getting a job. Therefore, it is important to organize personality development programs that targets students’ actual personalities, and make them realize their best which may or may not be suitable to a particular job but true to them.
7) Writing: It is one the most important aspect of any profession. We need to create engineers who can not only perform better but also express better. Writing skills help one to present himself/herself before others, and also enables to think. Presently, many colleges do not focus on improving the writing skills of the students. Therefore, writing centers can be created where either professional can be hired or students can be employed who have excellent writing skills.
8 ) Humanities: In many engineering courses, there is very limited focus on the humanities. If there is something additional, it is usually about management courses. It is important that we not only create engineers who could be better managers but also who are socially conscious human beings. Therefore, discussion groups or events should be created that encourage students to talk about issues related to human development.
In all of the above mentioned initiatives the underlying thing is not to do something extra but to do something different. In a decade of academic inflation when many people are going to college, getting a job is becoming a challenge; it means we should not prepare our students for the future based on present methodologies. We need to bring something new into the system only then we can create a whole new field of competition- like how many companies will be started each year by students at an engineering college.
P.S: The above 8 points apply to all colleges, but we write in reference to engineering colleges since the engineering education is nearing a debacle in India.