I wrote a letter to my alma mater’s current director as an alumnus suggesting some steps we could take as an institution to ameliorate the grim standards of the engineering college. The letter I wrote is as follows –
A few months back while reading the newspaper I came across a report published by AITCE stating that “60% of engineering graduates are unemployed” sending a chill down my spine. It was disheartening to know that such a noble profession has deteriorated to such levels. I also happen to hear from one of my classmates who’s struggling to find a decent job after graduating this year. It’s been extremely hard for him to make ends meet.
Hence, I am writing to you as a proud and concerned alumnus of Inderprastha Engineering College and hope to see our college shine more radiantly and stand out as one of the leading engineering colleges. I see my alma mater as a place where budding engineers aspire to not just study but regard the institution as a breeding ground where students and other stakeholders can nurture themselves for the uncertain yet promising future. I wish to see my college as the space where students don’t just prepare for exams, but also a place where students have access to a creative and liberal space where they can prepare for life, which is waiting to challenge them at every step as they step outside this sacrosanct place and enter a world of brutal competition. It’s essential to building our institutions in a way that stimulates, challenges, builds and supports students’ capabilities and talents.
As you know, in today’s rapidly changing times, what is in demand today might not be relevant tomorrow. Therefore, it is extremely important to prepare students with the right set of skills. In order to achieve this, we will have to strengthen our institution by being more receptive towards the students’ needs by giving them a space for their thoughts to flourish and making suitable and strong academic interventions in these rapidly changing business ecosystems.
As a recent graduate and corporate professional, I’ve had the pleasure of viewing things from the academic as well as the market perspective.
Therefore, I am taking this opportunity to write a few recommendations and suggestions for your due consideration, that I believe we should incorporate within our college – or at least strive to work in that direction and set high standards of academic and professional excellence for the students.
Here are a few recommendations:
We should start an internship program in our college where few selected students will be appointed as interns to our college administrative staff where they will get an opportunity to learn about administrative work and will be entrusted with certain responsibilities in carrying out the various administrative functions of the institution. This will offer great exposure and inculcate professional competencies among students.
We should assign one research project to students on the social issue of their choice. Research projects can be carried out independently or under the guidance of teachers. Now, the question is – why should an engineering student research on a social issue? I have multiple answers for this.
Firstly, an engineer is someone who creates something that solves a problem for the society at large. An engineer’s job is to serve the society with their innovations by building products that help them live life a little better. Therefore, it’s important for an engineering student or any professional degree student to view social issues closely so that they can know about the prevailing problems and understand them better. It’s only after we understand the problems, can we get to finding solutions.
All research projects on social issues should be accompanied by the probable solutions to mitigate the problem and implement them at the end of the project. Without implementing solutions, the social project would be redundant and would yield no results. Therefore, I would request you to take this into serious consideration. Last but not the least, the college should provide credits to incentivise students’ efforts.
In college, students are given a lot of opportunities to read and write, but they aren’t given enough time and space to speak, to share their views on pertinent issues in the world. We, as an institution should offer our students with space where they can participate in conversations regularly that are important not just from an academic perspective but relevant for the society too. We should organize events where students can talk about complex issues like triple talaq or the Rohingya crisis, or issues of gender at large. These activities will make students more sensitive and respectful of each other’s views. Education is a tool to change society, and that cannot be done without teaching them how to question things and how to speak their minds.
From IITs, DTU to Delhi University, all premier colleges and universities have a dedicated student body or cells within their campus that groom students with necessary life skills like leadership, organizational building, ability to steer ideas and other crucial skills. On similar lines, we should establish a dedicated student cell in college which should be run and managed solely by students under the supervision of the concerned authority. The student cell should be entrusted with the responsibility of forming a direct link between the director and students wherein the student cell representative will report students’ grievances, ideas, and suggestions directly to the director. This will inculcate a sense of discipline and purpose within students as they will be representative of students’ concerns. This will also ensure close coordination between the student community and the director which is healthy for students and institution at large. It is only when we are shouldered with responsibility, we truly realise the value of our actions.
We, as a college, should leverage our power and help students with internships. In India, I have largely seen internship opportunities come to students as a result of contacts and references due to which a lot of people are left with no internships. Therefore, we should focus a lot on internship opportunities and give students all the necessary support we can provide as an institution. Internships are a gateway to placements and carry a lot of weight in one’s career if judiciously used.
We should organise a ‘Business Mela’ where students will be given a chance to show their entrepreneurial skills and get the chance to market things they’ve created. This will help students learn basic trade skills and will also motivate them to build their interests and hobbies. This will also invigorate entrepreneurial spirit within students. The mela should be solely organised, managed and run by students. This will also build the college’s reputation, and a visitor will recognise the college as a place where students are motivated to pursue their passions.
The college should actively take an interest in organising educational trips not just within the state but outside the state. This will not only build enthusiasm among students but will improve students’ learning curve immensely. Also, educational trips need not only be visiting plants, industries, companies but it should also be visiting government schools and NGOs where students can realise how privileged they are and how they can contribute to the society.
There should be frequent interaction between the alumni and students where they can share a myriad of experiences and help and guide and support each other.
I believe and hope that you will take my recommendation/suggestions diligently and deliberate on them. The onus of helping hundreds of students who have come to study at IPEC is on us.
Sir, I am sure you’ll work on the aforementioned suggestions soon and will take steps in this direction. I would also love to hear your feedback on this and let me know if I can help you in implementing these suggestions in our college.
Also, if in case, I unintentionally hurt you while writing this letter then I offer my apology to you, but in no way, did I mean to belittle you or this prestigious institution. I have high regards for you and for everyone who has been a part of this college.
Varun Kumar Singh
(your beloved student)